At the Teradek live show at NAB last week, I caught up with three esteemed cinematographers to ask them what were the stand out items they came across at the show. Bruce Logan ASC, Rodney Charters ASC and Jason Wingrove run me through their “Best of Show” picks. With more than 1700 exhibitors at NAB the amount of new products can be overwhelming. Bruce, Rodney and Jason use their years of experience and knowledge to show you some of the stand out products from the show.
On the Teradek live show at NAB last week, I catch up with Tobias and Alex from Sachtler and talk to them about their new bag collection. There is more than 40 different bags available in the collection to suit just about any need or application. Many readers will be familiar with the Petrol brand of bags and when they were acquired by Vitec, Sachtler took over the range. Sachtler have made very slight changes to the bags and improved several features including the zippers and handles.
Newsshooter contributor Simon Glass recently reviewed one of the new Sachtler back packs and you can see that review here
For more information you can head over to the Sachtler website. .
Newsshooter’s Rick Macomber talkes to Rotolight about their Neo on camera lighting solution. The Neo is targeted at ENG crews and Rotolight claim it is the brightest on camera light ever made, outputting 1077lux at 3ft. The Neo is fully dim-able and has a bi-colour output where you can set the colour temperature on an lcd display anywhere from 3150k up to 6300k.
The Neo is powered from 6 rechargable AA batteries that will keep the light going for up to 3.5 hours at full output. The light also has the ability to be power off either AC or a D-tap.
A fade to black function allows you to preset a time to enable the Neo to fade up or fade down from whatever output level you set. Other interesting features include the ability to tell the light what ISO and f stop your using on your camera and how far your subject is from the camera. The light then does the calculations for you and sets the output level to what it thinks is the correct level.
Another new feature of the Neo being shown at the show was what Rotolight are calling a “Cine SFX” mode where you can set the light to replicate lightning strikes, strobing and fire just to name a few. All of these effects are fully customizable and allow the operator to adjust the timing and strength of the effect chosen.
The Neo is available for $399 US or also as a 3 light kit that features a hard flight case, barn doors and lighting stands for $1945 US.
The Neo was shortlisted in the ‘Acquisition and Production’ category as a “Finalist for the International Association of Broadcast Manufacturers (IABM) Game Changer Awards 2015”. Neo, set for shipping later this month, has been identified by the expert-judging panel as one of the most innovative new products to be exhibited at the NAB Show 2015.
For more information head over to the Rotolight website.
On the Teradek live show at NAB last week, I caught up with fellow shooters Elliot Smith, Simon Glass, Slavik Boyechko and Matt Allard to discuss the challenges of working behind the camera today.
As well as being on Newsshooter crew each panelist is now working as freelance, having previously been staff at a major news organisation. Matt was formerly at the Aljazeera English news network, Simon began his career at Reuters, Smith worked on video at the Guardian website, and Boyechko was staff and is now freelance at PBS.
We discuss what it takes to survive as a freelancer and how each panel member is making a living in an ever more crowded market. All the panel members come from a news and documentary background and we discuss how those skills can help when doing corporate work. It seems that a lot of companies are now looking for a more documentary style feel to their projects, as opposed to the traditional corporate style that we are all familiar with.
Our panel also talks about the advantages of being flexible and how the changes in technology are impacting the industry.
VidiU Mini is a small HDMI encoder that can stream in full HD to any online video platform or to Teradek’s new Live:Air Production Suite. The device features an internal LI-ION battery with up to 3 hours of runtime, bluetooth for configuring the device, built-in dual band WiFi, and integration with popular Web streaming services, including Ustream, Livestream and YouTube Live. For multi-camera productions, multiple VidiU Mini encoders can be used as wireless video sources for the Live:Air application. VidU Mini retails for $499 US.
VidiU Pro brings all the same features of the VidiU family while adding more features. VidiU Pro features Enhanced WiFi capability, built-in recording to SD Card, and bonding over mixed sources including WiFi, Ethernet, and 4G LTE. New CDN partners such as DaCast, Ooyala, Akamai, and Azure bring the ability to customize your streaming options. Configuring the VidiU Pro can be done with the companion app, which saves on set up time. Bonding through ShareLink allows you to connect up to 4 smartphones for a reliable high quality stream from anywhere. The VidiU Pro retails for $999 US and will ship in a few months time.
The Live:Air Production Suite is an iOS application that helps create professional live content with and iOS devices and Teradek encoders. The software allows users to add visual effects and text and title overlays to live video sources and can be used to switch between multiple live video feeds and pre-recorded material, all with the ability to use transitions and fades.
Live:Air supports up to 4 live video sources at once, so users can connect multiple cameras equipped with Teradek encoders for real-time mixing. For single camera productions, the application can be used to overlay sports scores or titles, even if the only video source happens to be the iPad’s built-in camera. Live:Air Production Suite is available on the app store for $99 US.
For more information on Teradek products head over to their website.
Sony have today officially announced the replacements for two of their top end A-mount stills Zeiss-branded zooms. The 24-70mm f2.8 ZA SSM II and 16-35mm f2.8 ZA SSM II are said to have improved image quality and faster autofocus compared to their predecessors. The new lenses also gain weather sealing.
It isn’t clear, but it seems the overall optical design may not have been changed much; outwardly, the new lenses look almost identical to the originals.
The Sony SAL1635Z2
The original duo form the basis for my current Sony FS7 kit. Even though they need an adapter to work on E-mount cameras, regular followers of the blog will know that I prefer them to their E-mount sisters, or the Canon L zooms with a Metabones adapter. The reason is that they have a better manual focus ring and the option of manual iris control when used with a Novoflex MIN-AF to NEX adapter. You can also use them with the right Metabones Speedbooster and this too has a manual iris. If you want AF you can pair them with a Sony LA-EA4 or LA-EA2 and get a pretty usable system (although it has some quirks that limit maximum aperture and operation).
I find the optical quality and the build of the originals better than almost any other AF stills zooms I’ve used. Like most stills zooms they have some breathing and don’t hold focus 100% when zoomed, but they are very usable for news and documentary. The original 24-70mm f2.8 was included in our FS7 lens tests last year:
Until I get my hands on the new versions it will be hard to tell if it will be worth upgrading from the older ones. But if you are in the market for a pair of zooms for the FS7, then these are surely worth considering when they are available.
BeyondHD have now released a more detailed behind the scenes video where they talk to Luther DP John Conroy about his experiences with the Helix and L’Aigle Exos exoskeleton. We hear a lot about the newer brushless gimbal technologies, but rarely get a chance to see how they are actually deployed on set. Conroy gives us a peek inside a busy set and explains why he prefers operating the Letus setup himself versus using another operator and an alternative system.
The impending release of the ARRI Alexa Mini should allow even greater flexibility, by doing away with the Alexa M cord and the backpack that Conroy is shown shooting with in the video. I don’t think it will be long before you see this kind of technology used on high end factual productions as well.
3D Robotics were showing their new Solo Smart Drone at NAB. The Solo is an all-in-one personal drone designed with ease of use in mind. There is a computer-assisted Smart Shot flight feature which they claim allows even novice pilots to get cinematic results from day one.
As industry leader DJI moves increasingly towards using and building their own cameras, 3D Robotics have chosen to focus on GoPro integration instead. With the additional Solo GoPro gimbal the system offers unfettered in-flight access to the GoPro’s controls, as well as wireless HD streaming straight to mobile devices. The signal can also be output to HDMI for live transmission or use with goggles.
According to 3D Robotics the craft uses two Linux computers to offer computing power that is unmatched by rivals. One computer is on the quad itself and the other is in the controller. Watch the video above to get the full story.
Solo will start from $999 and will launch in over 400 Best Buy stores across the US, with in-store availability on May 31st.
Info from 3D Robotics: - The first drone with a brain, Solo is powered by twin computers
- Only drone to stream live HD video from GoPro® direct to iOS/Android devices
- Revolutionary, intuitive video game-style controller
- Take to the air in seconds with effortless pushbutton flight
- Powerful Smart Shot technology makes capturing incredible cinematic footage easy and automatic
- Unique safety features like pause and “safety net” mean you can fly with confidence
- First with in-flight GoPro® access: Start/stop recording and adjust camera settings from the ground (with Solo Gimbal)
- Full-featured app for iOS and Android puts total craft control at your fingertips
- Follow Me mode enables Solo to automatically track and film any subject
- Solo Gimbal (sold separately) delivers smooth footage, GoPro® power and control and HDMI video
- Future-proof accessory and gimbal bays make Solo ready for tomorrow’s technology
- Free software and feature updates ensure your Solo evolves at the pace of innovation
- The smart drone keeps getting smarter: LiDAR for super stable indoor flight; ballistic parachute system; flight rewind and more, all scheduled for release
- World-class customer support means we’ve always got your back: live seven-day-a-week phone support from qualified engineers; in-app service tickets; and a 30-day money-back guarantee
When we made Solo, we set out to create not just the best drone, but the best aerial photography experience imaginable. While this meant giving Solo smooth and powerful flight dynamics, it also demanded we make a smarter drone, one that could handle the flying so you can retake creative control and focus on getting great video. In the end, we know people really just want great shots: They want access to professional tools that enable them to get those shots easily and consistently, without the need to spend years becoming a professional drone pilot. Solo delivers this promise: You get the shot, every time.
The world’s first smart drone.
What makes it smart? Not only does Solo have the world’s most advanced Pixhawk 2 autopilot system, but it also runs two 1 GHz computers, one on the copter and one in the controller, connected via a powerful dedicated Wi-Fi signal carried by 3DR Link. This processing power enables Solo to do amazing things that no personal drone has ever been able to do.
Helpful brain science-y analogy:
You can think of these computers as Solo’s “frontal cortex”—the most advanced part of the brain. They handle all of Solo’s high-level functions, like Smart Shots, HD video transmission and exclusive GoPro control features. The autopilot—traditionally a drone’s only nerve center—now works sort of like Solo’s “brain stem,” responsible solely for the basic rudiments of flight. By splitting up the work like this, Solo dramatically reduces the likelihood of mechanical failure in flight and opens up a world of possibility for adding advanced capabilities and features.
What are its advanced capabilities?
Solo’s intelligence makes it possible for beginners and pros alike to capture professional-grade shots from day one. Its powerful and one-of-a-kind computer-assisted Smart Shots allow you to set up the exact shot you want, then let Solo execute the shot with the precision of a seasoned cinematographer; and with a list of Smart Shots to choose from, the perfect shot is always just a few taps away. Solo is also the first all-in-one drone to offer live streaming of HD video from your GoPro directly to your mobile device, as well as built-in HDMI for live broadcast in HD.
Cablecam: Lock Solo onto a virtual cable between any two points in space. Now you can freely pan and tilt the camera on your known-safe flight path, or let Solo memorize your first and last frames and smoothly pan the camera between them for you—all you have to do is tap “play.” Orbit: Solo can automatically circle any subject of your choosing, keeping it perfectly framed to capture an iconic “wrap-around” shot. Adjust the circle’s radius to get the exact shot you want, even midflight. Selfie: With one touch Solo will fly up and away from you, keeping the camera centered on you so the scenery around you expands in a dramatic aerial pullout shot. Then Solo will reverse that shot as it comes back to you, landing right where it took off.
Go completely hands-free! Solo can follow wherever you go, automatically keeping the camera on you to capture your every move.
Any other cool features?
A new ergonomic controller built specifically for aerial photography. Its video game-style design breaks from the clunky and complicated RC tradition, so it feels familiar to even new pilots. And in keeping with the video game theme, we even gave the controller a pause button—an airbrake you can hit at any time to stop Solo midflight.
A full-featured mobile app for both iOS and Android. Choose between a live view from the camera or a satellite view of your selected shot, control your GoPro, and even change how the controller responds to commands.
Add the Solo Gimbal and get stabilized cinematic video; full access to GoPro controls; stream HD video to your mobile device; even power your GoPro while you fly.
Solo is built to evolve: gimbal bay, accessory bay and swappable motor pods for easily integrating new technology and features as they’re invented. Your Solo won’t be obsolete in a year.
What new technology? Everything from new flight modes and features to first-party accessories, third-party accessories, and new gimbals and accessories.
I’ve never flown a drone:.
Solo’s computers make flying easy for beginners and pros alike. Smooth and powerful satellite-guided flight ensures Solo’s position is always accurate, and Smart Shot modes keep Solo locked onto predetermined flight paths. It’s also got that great new video game-style controller for a feel that’s reassuring to any user. Plus the controller features one-button flight controls: Take off, land and return home automatically. And if you panic, don’t worry: There’s the pause button.
Can it carry a GoPro?
Solo is built to maximize the GoPro experience. We work closely with GoPro in order to give you the best aerial photography experience imaginable. Together we came up with the world’s first gimbal that offers direct in-flight access to the GoPro controls: With just a click of a button on the controller, you can now start and stop recording and snap the exact photos you want during your flight—or change the GoPro settings from within our mobile app. Additionally, Solo is the world’s first drone that offers plug-and-play live streaming HD video from your GoPro directly to your mobile device. Solo even comes with The Frame from GoPro, pre-installed with vibration isolation, so you can get a beautiful HD video stream hassle-free, right out of the box.
I’m worried about flyaways:
I’ve read a bunch of these stories, and they never end well.
Even though we’ve spent all of our efforts ensuring every Solo owner has the best possible user experience, we have to acknowledge that these things could happen. But don’t worry: Because Solo has built-in computers it can constantly monitor your flight. If you crash or lose connection, the app will prompt you to instantly create a service ticket, which you can submit instantly through your mobile device’s internet connection, wherever you’re flying. If the flight log shows that a system malfunction caused the loss of your copter—the dreaded “flyaway”—3DR will replace the copter and the gimbal if one was installed, and we’ll even give you credit to buy a new GoPro.
- Flight time: up to 25 min without payload, or up to 20 min with GoPro and Solo Gimbal
- Controller battery life of up to 4 hours; built-in rechargeable battery (8 hours with optional extended battery)
- Weight: 1500 g; 1800 g with Solo Gimbal and GoPro
- Autopilot: Pixhawk 2
- Video latency: 180 ms
- Wifi range: up to half a mile, depending on environment