ChungMedia

The Go Creative Show talks Frame.io and collaboration – plus some gear chat with Matt Allard

By site editor Dan Chung:

GCS037 Communicate

This week’s Go Creative Show takes collaboration and communication as its theme. Host Ben Consoli talks Emery Wells, co-founder of Frame.io – a collaborative working app designed to help teams and clients work on projects remotely. Ben also talks to presentation and communication skills coach Andrew Hurteau. Our own Matt Allard is also on hand to update on all the latest industry news. Click below to listen in:

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Posted on July 27th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: Go Creative show | Permalink | Comments (0)

Amazing 5D mkIII aerials for ITN documentary on the World’s largest soccer academy – shot by SCP aerials using the DJI S1000

By site editor Dan Chung:

DRONE FILMING AT THE WORLD’S LARGEST FOOTBALL ACADEMY from Spontaneous Combustion on Vimeo.

Recently we have featured several articles by shooters using inexpensive DJI Phantom drones to get previously unattainable shots. But what happens when a major network needs to get shots over the world’s largest soccer academy? How do you ensure safety for children playing football below?

Instead of attempting to do it themselves ITN decided to call in the experts from SCP Aerials in Hong Kong to handle the aerial shooting. SCP fly larger drones capable of carrying cameras like the Canon 5D mkIII and Red Epic.

I asked Richard Kimber of SCP Aerials about the shoot and the challenges of shooting with drones professionally:

“My team at SCP Aerials has had more than its fair share of adventures over the past few years of playing with drones. 

We’ve shot ultra-marathons in the vast deserts of Inner Mongolia, luxury properties in the snowy mountains of Japan, yacht races in the middle of giant lakes in China, and car chases on huge green-screen movie sets in Hong Kong. We’ve even shot horse racing and beamed our drone camera’s images straight on to live TV. 

But in the midst of the recent World Cup fever we jumped at the chance to head to China and film the world’s largest soccer academy with ITN, one of the most respected news organisations in the world. The documentary was part of the new ‘On Assignment’ series that ITN makes for ITV, the main commercial channel in the UK. 

The SCP team at the Soccer Academy

The SCP team at the Soccer Academy

SCP Aerials has been operating for a few years now as a division of the Spontaneous Combustion Productions film company in Hong Kong. We first started flying drone cameras as a means of getting awesome action shots at the many adventure sport events that we cover. From the moment that we first started experimenting with the then untried and untested technology, we knew it was going to be a game-changer. Since then we have grown fast and have become the official production partner of DJI, the world’s biggest manufacturer of drone camera equipment. 

The ITN soccer documentary was a perfect fit for us. It was a very newsy subject matter with lots of human interest value, and it was a story that just couldn’t be properly told without some aerial shots to communicate the mammoth scale of the facilities at the academy. 

It can be tough working with a news crew as shooting schedules tend to be tight, shots need to be short, sharp and very precise, and the subject matter for filming may not always be pleased to see you! Fortunately the ITN crew had everything organised before we arrived… including the weather, which they somehow managed to manipulate to our advantage despite the dire forecast! 

Setting up the DJI S1000. Photo by Lucy Watson/ITN

Setting up the DJI S1000. Photo by Lucy Watson/ITN

Using the DJI S1000 with the Canon 5D mkIII enabled us to get a rich colour scheme even through the haze, and the rock solid gimbal gave us lots of control to sculpt an eye-catching opening shot that slowly revealed the size of the enormous facilities without giving it all away at the start. With its retractable arms and rotors we were also able to transport the S1000 around easily and set-up it up quickly, allowing us to film in multiple locations during the short time-frame available. 

We use a full-HD, zero-latency transmitter and a portable 24 inch HD monitor to help our clients see exactly what the camera is shooting while it is in the air.  This helps to make sure that we can get a winning shot with every flight and adjust the framing to exactly suit the client’s needs before starting our pre-planned filming path.  For a news crew this is especially important as it ensures they can get what they need and wrap the shoot on time. 

Taking flight over the soccer academy

Taking flight over the soccer academy. Photo by Lucy Watson/ITN

The drone camera technology is evolving fast.  As DJI Phantoms become cheaper and easier to fly it is now possible for many budding filmmakers to add aerial Go Pro shots to their storyboards.  However my feeling is that operating bigger multi-rotor aircraft is still a job for professionals only.  Apart from cost considerations, bigger aircraft require a much greater depth of experience to be flown safely, and the maintenance is a lot more complicated. There is a significantly greater risk to be managed as well. Operators should be expected to have comprehensive third party liability insurance, and should be actively engaged with their local government or aviation department to ensure that they are submitting permission applications for their flights. Ideally they should have gone through a certified training programme as well. We sent our newest pilot to the UK to earn his stripes as there is currently no such qualification available in Asia. 

The industry will continue to expand and new regulation is inevitable. We are working closely with the Civil Aviation Department in Hong Kong to help build a community of aerial filmmakers in the hope that we can all help one another, rather than aggressively compete.  I believe that if we all play by the rules and fly responsibly, we can continue having fun with this fantastic technology for many years to come…  or at least until something new and even cooler arrives!”

You can find out more about SCP Aerials and their work at http://www.hotaerials.tv

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Posted on July 27th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: Canon EOS 5D MkIII, Drones | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Boda jib Kickstarter project – a crane that claims a 30 second set up and 25lbs payload

By site editor Dan Chung:

Boda Jib Kickstarter from Jeremy Sawatzky on Vimeo.

There are plenty of travel jibs around these days. Most will lift a DSLR or small camera, some will even take cameras like the FS700 or Red Epic. But the new Boda jib aims to carry even heavier loads – right up to 25 pounds (15 pounds at full extension).

The dream of Canadian machinist and engineer Jeremy Sawatzky, the Cinetech Industries Boda jib is designed to be incredibly simple in operation, yet highly portable. It weighs just 9 pounds and compacts to a mere 28 inches long. To achieve this Sawatzky has used carbon fibre and CNC cut aluminium. The unique fold out design has a claimed 30 second setup time, which if true will beat just about every other jib out there.

The Boda jib

The Boda jib

The camera can be attached via a cheese plate mount or an optional 75mm bowl mount. Sawatzky says motion control heads and gimbals can can also be attached.

The jib has a hollow construction to allow easy running of cables inside it. There are mounting points on the base of the jib to mount accessories such as monitor arms.

It has an optional fluid base which should allow for smooth pans without the need for a tripod head below the jib. This attaches to a half-ball or tripod head via a 3/8 screw mount. I’m slightly concerned that this might not be strong enough for large payloads but time will tell.

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Sawatzky has turned to Kickstarter to raise funding to put his jib into production. His estimated retail prices are certainly not inexpensive. The expected price for the basic model is $2500 CAD. Right now a pledge of $2099 CAD should reward you with the basic model without 75mm bowl adapter, fluid pan base, padded case or levelling weight. Step up to $2450 and the reward is a full kit with pan base, bag, weight bar, levelling weight and bowl adapter.

I spoke to Sawatzky to find out what inspired him to create the jib, how he got to where he is now, and why he turned to Kickstarter. This is what he had to say:

“My inspiration stemmed from a constant need to tinker and build my own equipment instead of paying for a finished product. I saw a picture of a camera crane, understood the basic principle behind it, and designed my first model in my parents garage using nothing but a drill press and a table saw. It was large, clumsy, heavy and hard to move around but functioned well. I built my second crane that I sold to a friend using a single hinge to fold the crane in half reducing its packed size. He took that crane to Israel, Africa and still uses it today. I took that hinge design and expanded on the idea, building more prototypes until I ended up where I am now. I have shot many small projects over the years, lots to do with cars and short films. I love dramatic sweeping shots and that is why I wanted a jib in the first place.

I built my first prototypes out of aluminum, removing as much unnecessary material as possible to maintain a light product. I could never achieve my lightness and weight capacity goal with aluminum so I decided that carbon fiber would be the perfect candidate. I use a high grade carbon fiber made in the United States. Carbon fiber is immune to the elements and will not rust or degrade. It is very lightweight and stiff. It is bonded to the other components using an extremely high grade epoxy that will not break down over time. It is a difficult material to work with and very expensive hence the high price but the benefits outweigh the downsides.

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My price point is determined with simple math, how much does each unit cost to build and how much overhead do I have. I allow enough profit to expand the business and you have the purchase price. Provided I am successful with funding, there are plans for many versions to be built. Cheaper, more capacity, less capacity, shorter, longer, etc. I cannot afford to overwhelm myself with multiple versions. One step at a time. The Kickstarter funds will allow me to make the initial part and carbon fiber orders. Large bulk orders are necessary in order to maintain the price point of the jib.” 

As with all Kickstarter projects there is a the risk that the project runs into difficulties and rewards may be delayed – or in some cases never fulfilled. Head over to the Boda jib Kickstarter page for more info.

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Posted on July 26th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: Jibs and Cranes | Permalink | Comments (0)

Jem Schofield’s filmmaker’s intensive in Scotland aims to make you a better doc shooter

By site editor Dan Chung:

The Filmmaker’s Intensive 2014 from theC47 on Vimeo.

There are plenty of training courses that claim to turn you into a better shooter but there are not many well tailored to documentary shooters wanting to brush up on their lighting and shooting skills. Trainer and educator Jem Schofield’s latest intensive course starts in Scotland in just a few days. It focuses on shooting in the real world and places are limited to 20 so that everyone gets time with the instructors. If you are in or near the UK and can spare the time then it should be worth the price of admission.

To find out more head over to thefilmmakersintensive.com.

Jem is a long time friend of this site and really knows his stuff. He not only runs his own courses he is also produces many of the training resources for the Canon cinema camera series. Here are some examples:

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Posted on July 26th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: Training | Permalink | Comments (0)

Blackmagic Design add histogram and audio level meters to their 4K Production camera

By site editor Dan Chung:

bmd 4k display

Another week, another announcement from Blackmagic Design. This time it is exciting news for owner and prospective buyers of the 4K Production camera. The company’s new free 1.9 Camera update adds overlays for histogram, audio level meters and a recording time remaining indicator to the camera’s rear screen. This is something that Blackmagic camera owners have been crying out for for months.

These functions have not made it into the other cameras in the range in this release, but the company says it is working to make that happen in the next few weeks.

You can watch a video of Blackmagic Design CEO Grant Petty explaining the upgrade here.

Here is the full release from Blackmagic Design:

Fremont, CA – July 24, 2014 – Blackmagic Design today announced the immediate availability of Camera 1.9 software which includes new “heads up display” on screen metering that provides customers with histogram, peak audio meters and recording time remaining for the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K.

Camera 1.9 update is available now free of charge from the Blackmagic Design website.

Using these additional displays for the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K means that customers can easily and quickly check important camera settings such as exposure, audio level and the remaining space on their recording disk.

Using the histogram scope, customers can now easily and rapidly set exposure in a shot as the histogram shows the the distribution of luminance in their images and if highlights or shadows are being clipped. Images with clipped highlights or shadows make it much harder to color grade the shots in post production, so having the histogram feature helps DOP’s shoot with confidence. The histogram scope is real time so highlights and shadows can be adjusted interactively with the lens setting, ensuring images are not clipped and maximum detail in tonal ranges is preserved, critically important for allowing colorists to create amazing grading effects in post production using the full contrast range of the camera.

Camera 1.9 software update also includes a new audio metering with peak hold feature to allow setting audio levels for Channels 1 and 2 when using the built in microphone as well as externally connected audio sources. The audio meters make it fast to view audio levels and adjust camera audio gain so that audio is not clipped or distorted.

The new heads up display also includes a recording time remaining indicator that shows remaining space on the recording disk. The time remaining indicator is automatically re-calibrated to ensure an accurate time remaining value if the either the frame rate or codec are changed, and displays red when the disk is getting full.

This update is available to our Blackmagic Production Camera 4K customers free of charge. Customers can download this update now and install it onto their camera from either Mac or Windows computers using a simple USB cable connection to the camera. Once the update is complete, customers can view the new on screen menus by simply swiping their finger up from the bottom of the capacitative touch screen.

This new heads up display will be released for other models of Blackmagic Design cameras over the coming weeks, so an even wider range of Blackmagic Design camera customers can get the benefits of this new display.

“We are extremely excited that we have been able to provide yet another release for our camera customers ,” said Grant Petty, CEO of Blackmagic Design. “Having this new heads up display with on screen scopes will enable film makers to shoot the most amazing images with confidence that they will get incredible results in post production!”

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Posted on July 25th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: 4K, Blackmagic design | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rode release NT-USB studio mic for iPad, OSX and Windows

Guest post by Clinton Harn:

NT-USB three quarter - no popfilter

Rode have just released their new NT-USB studio mic. Connecting via USB to an iPad, OSX or Windows PC it focusses on convenience and quick turn around times – useful in broadcast scenarios and fast sound recording applications.

This mic isn’t a “re-hash” of their popular Podcaster. The capsule itself has been designed from the ground up, and manufactured to specifications as a Cardioid condenser, while the podcaster is a dynamic mic. This simply means that the NT-USB would be ideal for picking up more sound nuance and detail. 

There are subtle differences in application. I see the NT-USB performing a more versatile role and would consider it a go to “Bread & butter” microphone for more general applications.

NT-USB_Mac

The Podcaster has been around for a while now and is mainly for voice application, whereas the NT-USB is not only great for voice, but the condenser properties mean you can use the mic for a plethora of purposes such as instrument, foley on location and ambient recording.

You can pair the mic to an iPad via the Apple camera connection kit (or other suitable USB adapter). Similar to the iXY, the NT-USB works with the RØDE Rec app making it ideal for journalists and correspondents on the go.  

The USB to computer option allows you to use it with your mainstream audio based programs such as Logic, Protools, Garage Band, right down to direct voice overs on iMovie.

Front end computer audio devices & interfaces often suffer lag during data transfer, and are generally dependent on buffer rates. The NT-USB features a zero-latency stereo headphone monitoring (3.5mm) jack, which allows users to monitor the microphone input in realtime, along with dials to adjust the monitoring level .

Build and sound quality should typical of a RØDE mic – the company claim best in class performance. Really nice finishing touches included are a pop filter, a high-quality stand mount with industry standard 3/8” thread, desktop tripod and a pouch. 

Full disclosure: Rode is a sponsor of this site.

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Posted on July 25th, 2014 by Clinton Harn | Category: Uncategorized | Permalink | Comments (2)

Video review: The DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ that fell from the sky

Guest post by D J Clark:

After playing with a DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ in the park for the past month, I felt it was time to take it out on an assignment. 

The untreated footage, shot in standard auto mode with some adjustments while it was up in the sky, looks good on a mobile device but starts to show its limitations on a big screen. I sat down with Newsshooter.com to talk through my experience so far.

Video:
The Vision+ shoots 1080P at 25 or 30 FPS + 1080i & 720P at 50 or 60 FPS. It also has manual controls over ISO, white balance, exposure, sharpness & anti-flicker. All the above can be controlled during flight from the phone app.

In this demo I was shooting 1080P with sharpness set to standard. All the video is straight off the memory card unaltered.

Photos:
The Vision+ allows you to shoot JPEG or DNG RAW (4384 x 3288 px) and has the same manual controls as you have with video, also controllable in flight.

In this demo I was shooting RAW and the images shown here and in the video have had basic edits in Adobe Lightroom.

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Phantom 2 Vision+ versus the Phantom 2 with a GoPro on a gimbal:

As has been demonstrated in other tests online, the video from the GoPro Hero3+ outperforms the Vision+. However, bear in mind to get close to the same functionality as the Vision+ you will need to also buy and fit:


- a Zenmuse H3-3D 3-Axis Gimbal

- a wireless video link for FPV so you can send the video signal back to the controller

- 7″ FPV monitor with built-in receiver so you can see the video on a monitor attached to the controller

- iOSD superimposed flight data on video so you can use the monitor for helping you control the quadcopter
- plus a GoPro Hero 3+
- GoPro batteries

It almost doubles the price and is a lot less compact and easy to set up. You can almost start flying the Phantom 2 Vision+ out of the box and it syncs through an app to an iPhone or Android phone.

The fall from the Sky:
In the video above I describe how my Phantom 2 seemingly fell out of the sky for no reason. Since returning home I have been able to research the incident and found the following.

The crash was most probably caused by the Vortex Ring State – an issue with the stability of multirotors. The DJI Phantom is prone to it when descending too quickly, or in strong winds. My natural action to throttle up, probably made it worse. There are no warnings in the manual related to this issue.

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 19.00.14

DJI issued a new firmware update in late April to counter this by restricting the descent speed. Although my unit was purchased in early May it appeared not to have the latest update. I would urge anyone with a Phantom 2 to check you are running the latest software.

I spoke to DJI support in the US and in China. Though sympathetic to my crash, both stated company policy is not to offer replacements to units damaged by this issue. Support in China did offer me 20% off a new unit.

Conclusion:
As I state in the video, even with the crash I still have come out with a positive experience using the Phantom. The video from the Vision+ isn’t as good as a GoPro Hero3+ but is so unique that everyone I have showed it to has missed its flaws while marveling at the smooth movements. The still images, once edited, are amazing.

The crash was disappointing as I still had another five flights planned. It was also an important reminder of the potential dangers of flying – especially when above people.


As I say in the video the shots above with the Phantom were done at the end of a network TV shoot I was on. I won’t get to edit the TV package for another couple of weeks and only then will be able to decide whether I can sneak one or two shots from the Vision+ in. It may be a stretch. But for online only, and learning to fly and shoot, I would recommend the Vision+. I am hoping DJI come out with a better camera or a better way to integrate the GoPro soon.

D J Clark is DP for Assignment Asia, a new current affairs program due to launch very soon. He also freelances for The Economist and teaches on the University of Bolton MA in Multimedia Journalism that runs in Beijing, China.

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Posted on July 24th, 2014 by D J Clark | Category: Drones, Journalism, quadcopters | Permalink | Comments (4)

Hoya’s new Antistatic EVO filters aim to banish dust from your lens front

By site editor Dan Chung:

Hoya are one of the world’s best known photographic filter makers. They have just launched a new range of Antistatic coated UV, protective and polarising filters. Designed to work in harsh environments they repel dust and should require less cleaning than regular filters. In addition these filters have a top-layer that is water repellent and easy to clean.

The Hoya EVO Antistatic filter

The Hoya EVO Antistatic filter

The specifications of these filters sound very similar to what Nikon recently did to the fronts of their top end Nikkor fluorine coated lenses. I’m not sure if the technology is the same but the claimed effects are certainly similar.

If these filters work as advertised I can see them becoming an instant hit with news shooters. It would be great if the same technology could make its way into the company’s ND filter lineup too.

hoya 2

This from Hoya:
Hoya engineers have developed a new ANTISTATIC coating that acts like a force field around the filter to repel dust. Perfect for environments where dust is common, these filters require less frequent cleaning and maintenance than traditional filters. Additionally, the hardened, antistatic top-layer is water repellent, stain and scratch resistant, and cleans easily when smudges or fingerprints are introduced to the surface. The filter’s UV properties filter unwanted ultra-violet rays, reducing haze and increasing clarity.

The new EVO ANTISTATIC professional filters are made in Japan using hand selected silicates that are carefully smelted and blended to yield high performance optical glass. Hoya then uses extreme care and precision to apply the Improved 16-layer Super Multi-coating formula which greatly reduces or eliminates reflections on the surface of the glass and yields a 99.8% light transmission rate. This means the filter has virtually no effect on the color balance, contrast, or clarity of the final image.

The filters features a lightweight, one-piece, low-profile aluminum frame to house the glass. This one-piece design allows the filter to maintain perfect parallel alignment to the sensor plane for maximum sharpness, while the low-profile form eliminates vignetting when used on ultra-wide-angle lenses.

• NEW Antistatic coating repels dust
• 99.8% Light Transmission
• Scratch resistant – Hardened coating protects against everyday wear
• Stain resistant – Protects against exposure to ink, markers etc.
• Water repellent – Water beads up and wipes away easily
• Fingerprints and smudges wipe away cleanly
• Filters unwanted UV light before it reaches the sensor
• Hoya’s Professional-grade optical glass
• Hoya exclusive one-piece, low-profile filter frame with front filter threads

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Posted on July 23rd, 2014 by admin | Category: Filters | Permalink | Comments (0)

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