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Newsshooter At CP+ Tokyo 2015- Get a Birds Eye Perspective With The IROD

By technical editor Matt Allard:

At CP+ in Japan, Lumica Corporation were showing the Birds iRod. The iRod is a long boom pole that allows you to attach a small sized camera in order to capture a perspective or view that is not otherwise possible to get. The whole idea is to place a small wifi or Bluetooth enabled camera such as a GoPro on top of the pole and control it remotely from a tablet or smartphone. For News or event shooters this device could come in very handy. With the advent of tougher restrictions placed on flying drones particularly in central city areas, this could allow crews to capture unique perspectives of events such as protests.

A GoPro on the iRod with a custom remote pan/tilt head

A GoPro on the iRod with a custom remote pan/tilt head

Event shooters or news crews could also use the device to live stream a unique perspective to the web or for broadcast through a third party device from a company like Teradek.

Control your camera via a smartphone to tablet app

Control your camera via a smartphone to tablet app

The iRod could also be used to get unique underwater perspectives by turning it upside down. Being able to send a camera down 7.5m while staying on a boat offers a lot of flexibility.

Three different heights are available: 3m, 4.5m and 7.5m

Three different heights are available: 3m, 4.5m and 7.5m

The iRod comes in three different sizes from 3m (9.84ft) all the way up to 7.5m (24.6ft). It was impressive to see that they had made a design where even the 7m high version folded down to just 165cm (5.4ft) and weighed only 2kg (4.4lb). The iRod can carry a camera load of up to 1kg (2.2lb).

The iRod is made out of a very strong but extremely light glass fibre and carbon material.

The iRod is made out of a very strong but extremely light glass fibre and carbon material.

The iRod is made out of a glass fibre that incorporates carbon and it features a tilt-able mounting plate at the end of the pole for attaching a camera. It also comes in a nice carry case with a shoulder strap for transporting.

The basic iRod unit prices are:

3m Version 13,000yen ($110 US)

4.5m Version 13,000yen ($110 US)

7.5m Version 23,100yen ($193 US)

A version with a light stand is also available

A version with a light stand is also available

Another version of the iRod that includes a light stand mount:

3m Version 18,600yen ($155 US)

4.5m Version 18,600yen ($155 US)

7.5m Version 30,100yen ($252 US)

The iRod looks to be an interesting piece of gear. My only concern would be just how stable the shots would be and how it would perform in windy conditions.

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Posted on March 1st, 2015 by Matthew Allard | Category: Action Cameras, Camera support systems, CP+ show | Permalink | Comments (0)

BVE 2015: Rode microphones NTG4 and 4+ comparison

By site editor Dan Chung:

At BVE in London this week the latest Rode NTG4 and 4+ microphones were on show. UK dealer Source Distribution let us hear the new NTG4+ shotgun mic and compare it with the older NTG2.

The NTG4+ can be charged via USB

The NTG4+ can be charged via USB

They told us the NTG4 and 4+ are positioned between the high end NTG3 and the older NTG 1 and 2.

For more info check out the Rode website.

Posted on March 1st, 2015 by Dan Chung | Category: Audio | Permalink | Comments (0)

BVE 2015: How accurate are your LED lights? Ex-BBC expert Alan Roberts has the surprising answers

By site editor Dan Chung:

Alan Roberts is the UK’s most respected camera tester and spent a career at the BBC evaluating and creating standards. Since his retirement from the BBC he has continued to test independently and you may well have come across one of his white papers while researching your camera purchase.

At BVE we had a chance to sit down with him and discuss some very significant testing that he has been doing on lights. Dissatisfied with the old CRI index which manufacturer’s commonly quote when talking about the accuracy of lights, he set out to create a better way to evaluate different light sources. Based on research done by old colleagues at the BBC, he has created a new way to test lights and compare them scientifically.

The results of his tests are surprising and show a wide variation in the colour accuracy of different lights. His index clearly demonstrates that not all LED lights are created equal and that some well known brands don’t perform as well as expected. Watch the video above to hear Alan explain how his index works and how the rating affects the what your results look like. Fascinating stuff.

The Litepanels Astra

The Litepanels Astra

To find out how your own lights fares you check them out on Alan’s test results which can be found over on the Guild of Television cameramen’s website. You can download the full theory behind the tests from Zerb magazine here.

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Posted on February 27th, 2015 by Dan Chung | Category: LED lights, Lighting | Permalink | Comments (0)

Newsshooter at CP+ Tokyo 2015- Toast Technology Shows New Motion Time-Lapse Mount For Sliders

By technical editor Matt Allard:

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At CP+ in Japan, Toast Technology were showing their new TP-7 Motion Time-Lapse Mount that can be attached to a wide range of sliders. According to Toast Technology the TP-7 can be mounted on any companies mounting plate and you can then attach a timing belt to a slider to do motion time-lapses. By connecting your camera to the TP-7 using a special cable you can automate and control the movement of the camera and the shutter. By adding an optional TP-7 attachment you can also ad camera rotation (pan and tilt) to your time-lapse.

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The TP-7 was beautifully made and built like a tank. Being able to take the TP-7 and attach it to a wide variety of sliders makes this device very versatile. The belt length can be made to work on sliders of any length.

You can attach the belt to a wide selection of sliders regardless of length.

You can attach the belt to a wide selection of sliders regardless of length.

The TP-7 weighs in at 480grams and is expected to retail for around 100,000YEN ($838 US). There is no indication yet of a shipping date. It can be powered by any 5-12 volt DC source including various rechargeable batteries (Ni-MH battery) and low-cost yet high performance USB lithium ion batteries.

The new version of the TP-2

The new version of the TP-2

The company were also showing their updated TP-2 Version 3. The TP-2 is an advanced auto star tracking and motion time-lapse photography device in an all in one mount. Combining the TP-2 with the new Nikon D810A looks to be a very good solution for capturing stars and the night sky.

The new Nikon D810A

The new Nikon D810A

New Functions
The rotary switch lets you choose from 10 different modes of automatic star tracking photography, such as the STAR, SUN, or MOON mode. Select the STAR-LANDSCAPE mode and you can simultaneously photograph still images of the landscape and the stars.

The TP-2 utilises a simple interface

The TP-2 utilises a simple interface

The MOTION TIMELAPSE mode enables smooth camerawork during time-lapse shoots. TP-2 comes with the new worm wheel and a boost circuit that helps make high-level torque drive possible. It has also been designed to be compatible to various rechargeable batteries like the popular eneloop* (Ni-MH battery) and low-cost yet high performance USB lithium ion batteries. A battery warning feature will tell you the perfect time to change the your AA size or eneloop battery. Battery life will be up to 7-10 hrs at room temperature when used with four AA size Alkaline batteries.

By combining multiple units you can have full 360 degree movement

By combining multiple units you can have full 360 degree movement

Automatic Star Tracking Mount
TP-2 matches its own rotational shaft to the earth’s rotational axis to automatically track the stars in sync with the earth’s diurnal motion.
With this function, you can project stars in a point image during long exposure shooting. TP-2 can also mount digital cameras with a wide array of lenses from fish-eye lenses to super telephoto lenses. Shoot celestial images of the Milky Way, constellations, nebulae, clusters, comets, meteors, lunar and solar eclipses by long exposure.

According to Toast Technology With its excellent durability and portability, you can use TP-2 anywhere in the world to make high precision, automatic star tracking photography a reality.

TP-2 Motion Time-Lapse Function
TP-2 is also compatible for motion time-lapse during daytime and nighttime. By simply changing the set up, you can freely pan and tilt your camera during time-lapse photography. In addition to the six degrees (10゚/h, 30゚/h, 45゚/h, 90゚/h, 180゚/h, 360゚/h) of motion time-lapse, when you are shooting stars in the background you can use the auto star tracking mode (Star/Sun/Moon 15゚/h) or Star-Landscape mode (7.5゚/h). With this rich variation of speed you can select the most suitable mode for your image, depending where you are.

Star-Landscape Mode
TP-2’s STAR-LANDSCAPE MODE will give you still images of the landscape and sky respectively. Many photographers have presented beautiful pieces of their work by using this mode, which was first equipped on TOAST TECHNOLOGY’s mobile equatorial mount. Other than the STAR LANDSCAPE MODE that can track stars at 0.5 x speed of fixed stars, there is the 10゚/h(0.67x speed)mode for motion time-lapse. These two choices of speed will let you make your photography work even more creative.

Posted on February 27th, 2015 by Matthew Allard | Category: CP+ show, Nikon, SIiders, Timelapse | Permalink | Comments (0)

BVE 2015 London: Teradek launch Live:Air video production studio in a suitcase + VidiU Mini streaming device

By site editor Dan Chung:

Teradek were at BVE in London this week showing their new Live:Air iOS production suite for the first time. This allows for live vision mixing, titling and graphics of several HD video sources connected wirelessly to an iOS device. Everything is controlled via an elegant touch interface and works best on the latest iPad Air 2. You can even use Live:Air with a single camera and still use it to apply effects and graphics.

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They also had their latest VidiU mini encoder that can encode video from a HDMI source like a GoPro or regular video camera to H.264, then stream it via wi-fi or Bluetooth to popular live video platforms. It has an internal battery that can power the device for several hours.

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At BVE they demonstrated Live:Air live mixing between several VidiU Mini equipped GoPros. Not only could you make straight cuts, you could also crossfade and adjust the audio levels on each source individually. Another impressive feature was the ability to zoom into the image and in effect create multiple live shots from the same image. Other Teradek encoders like the Cube can also be used to feed into Live:Air so if you have one already then you simply need to download the app to get started.

Various different Teradek encoders can be used with Live:Air

Various different Teradek encoders can be used with Live:Air

I can see numerous applications for this kind of technology. It would allow a single operator to easily create a multi-camera live show with basic tools. I can see many smaller news websites, and perhaps even some larger ones, using this technology to produce web series. It could even be used for events and sports coverage by local news websites.

The VidiU Mini will cost $499 US and Live:Air will be available as both a limited free download or a paid version on the Apple app store. You can learn more about both on the Teradek website.

Full disclosure: Teradek are a sponsor of Newsshooter.com

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Posted on February 27th, 2015 by Dan Chung | Category: GoPro, Transmission systems | Permalink | Comments (0)

ARRI ALEXA MINI: Hands-on and Q&A with product designer Michael Jonas

By site editor Dan Chung:

At the BVE show in London this week ARRI were showing the new ALEXA MINI publically for the first time. Newsshooter gained exclusive access to the camera and we were able to shoot with the prototype for a short time. Newsshooter team members Simon Glass, Elliot Smith and myself filmed handheld test shots in and around the EXCEL complex where the exhibition was being held.

Newsshooter's Simon Glass shooting with the ALEXA MINI

Newsshooter’s Simon Glass shooting with the ALEXA MINI

We also spoke in detail with ARRI’s Michael Jonas about the camera. He gives us a full run-through of the features and offers great insight into the decisions ARRI made when designing the camera:

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Q: What was ARRI’s rationale when creating this camera?
A: One of our customers’ primary requests was for a compact and lightweight camera that would complement the ALEXA camera system. These requests were mainly driven by workflow or grading issues when having to integrate footage from 3rd party cameras with the material shot on ALEXA, but also by the desire to have an equally easy-to-use and reliable camera as the ALEXA. In addition, operators of handheld gimbals and multicopters suggested to us that the majority of their customers would be interested in using an ALEXA on such rigs, which wasn’t really practical with our main unit cameras.

Q: Who do you see as the potential users?
A: We expect the camera to be used by everybody who relies on ALEXA as a main camera but struggles with the form factor and weight for certain applications. Crews working on ALEXA-based productions will use the ALEXA Mini in tight environments, on cranes or special rigs, or as a handheld camera. Other users will include individuals working with gimbals and multicopters, or underwater, who want to take their craft to the next level and open up new opportunities on higher-end productions.

Q: What is the price-point of the camera?
A: Prices for the ALEXA Mini start at EUR 32,500 – body only. ARRIRAW and 4:3 capabilities will be available as license upgrades for EUR 2,950 each, following a software update later in 2015. The complete list of prices will be available through local ARRI partners when we start to accept orders in March.


Q: What viewfinder options are available? Can the Mini be controlled without an ARRI EVF?
A: There is a long list of options for controlling the camera: first of all the camera supports the MVF-1, which is known from the AMIRA and incorporates a flip-out screen that can be used to control and monitor the camera. For the ALEXA Mini we figured that people would have to plug and unplug the viewfinder cable quite often, so we incorporated a new military-grade connector on the camera, which is rugged and environmentally protected.

The button interface on the camera, together with an on-screen display on the SDI output, can be used to change operational parameters like fps, EI, NDs and white balance, so no viewfinder is needed and the camera can be operated just with an on-board monitor. With Transvideo we are working on an integration of the StarliteHD that will allow us to use the StarliteHD’s touch functionality to control the camera; we expect this to work very well as a quick and easy remote option or when the camera is operated on rigs where the button interface is not easily accessible.

The camera also supports control via built-in Wi-Fi, through a web application that works on a wide variety of web browsers and a broad range of iOS or Android devices like laptops, tablets and phones.

For operators who prefer physical buttons and rotary encoders we will provide a small control unit that attaches to the viewfinder connector and allows quick setup and framing without having to carry a viewfinder or monitor. The panel can also be connected in-between the camera and the viewfinder to allow for a right-side assistant control interface in addition to the viewfinder, not only for the ALEXA Mini but also for the AMIRA.

Last but not least, our WCU-4 wireless hand unit can be used to control the camera. The integration not only allows the control of up to three cforce lens motors directly attached to the L-Bus interface on the lightweight titanium lens mount – it also provides reliable remote control of all basic operational parameters of the camera, making the combination of ALEXA Mini, WCU-4 and cforce motors the ideal on-set configuration.


Q: What lens mounts are available?
A: For the ALEXA Mini we provide a super-lightweight titanium PL mount with an integrated L-Bus interface that allows the daisy-chaining of up to three cforce lens-motors directly from the camera, without any need for an external motor controller. In addition, all AMIRA lens mounts – the EF, B4 and steel PL mounts with Hirose connector – will work on the ALEXA Mini as well.



Q: What codecs and resolutions are available?
A: At release the camera will be able to record all the typical ARRI ProRes flavors, up to ProRes 4444 XQ in 16:9 HD, 2K Cine, 3.2K and 4K UHD. 4:3 with anamorphic de-squeeze as well as internal ARRIRAW recording to CFast 2.0 cards up to 30 fps and support for external recorders will become available through upgrades during 2015.

Q: Will it record 4K?
A: The ALEXA Mini will record in-camera ProRes 4444 4K UHD up to 60 fps to CFast 2.0 cards, based on the same ALEV III sensor that is used in ALEXA and AMIRA.

Q: Is ARRIRAW support possible in the future?
A: ARRIRAW recording is planned as a software license for EUR 2,950 and will be available later in 2015. It will enable internal recording of uncompressed ARRIRAW to CFast 2.0 cards at frame rates up to 30 fps. Not only is ARRI collaborating with CODEX to ensure the ARRIRAW workflow remains streamlined and straightforward, but also CODEX will offer a new external recorder that can record max. 120 fps of uncompressed 2.8K ARRIRAW per camera, up to a combined max. total of 360 fps from up to four ALEXA Minis.

Q: What are the slow motion frame rates on offer?
A: The camera will support shooting at 200 fps in HD and 2K Cine up to ProRes 4444. With the external CODEX recorder the camera will be able to record up to 120 fps uncompressed ARRIRAW 2.8K.



Q: Which sensor is being used?
A: The sensor of the ALEXA Mini is the same ALEV III sensor used in other ALEXA models and in the AMIRA. It offers the same frame rates as the AMIRA sensor but also supports a 4:3 recording mode, like ALEXA.



Q: What is the power draw and battery system that needs to be used?
A: At regular speeds the power draw of the camera is below 50 W and increases to around 70 W depending on environmental conditions, codec and frame rate.



Q: What are the audio features – can XLR and Phantom power be used?
A: The camera has a stereo symmetric line-level input. It uses a Lemo connector due to the size and does not supply Phantom power.

Q: What is included and what are optional extras?
A: The camera can be purchased body-only. Optional extras are the MVF-1 viewfinder, LCD control panel, base plate adapters, cage, cforce lens motors and WCU-4 hand unit.



Q: What is the weight of the camera?
A: The weight of the camera is around 2.3 kg (5 lbs) including lens mount and built-in motorized ND filters.

Q: Does the ALEXA Mini replace the ALEXA M?
A: ARRI will continue to offer the ALEXA XT M as it may still be preferable over the Mini to some users due to the higher ARRIRAW frame rates, or in situations (e.g. aerial shoots) when the capacity of the Mini’s internal CFast 2.0 cards is too limiting.

Q: How does the ALEXA Mini compare to the ALEXA XT?
A: The ALEXA Mini’s design is focused on a compact and lightweight form factor, which is in many respects a compromise compared to our main unit cameras. Our goal for the ALEXA Mini was to provide a very flexible companion camera that will work well alongside our bigger cameras and complement them. The ALEXA XT still has many advantages over the ALEXA Mini and remains the preferred choice for a main unit camera in our view.

Q: How does the ALEXA Mini compare to the AMIRA?
A: The AMIRA is optimized in ergonomics and functionality for single operators or small crews working on all kinds of documentary-style productions. The ALEXA Mini is ideal for applications where size, weight and flexible rigging are crucial, but other functions like audio recording are less important.

Posted on February 26th, 2015 by Dan Chung | Category: Arri Amira | Permalink | Comments (0)

Color Finale- Advanced grading within FCPX

By technical editor Matt Allard:

Color Finale is a new plug in for Final Cut Pro X that allows you to colour grade within FCPX itself. Features include the ability to adjust curves, use colour wheels, apply LUTs, and use vectors. I am still very much a novice when it comes to using programs like DaVinci Resolve and for the sort of work I normally do I prefer to do basic colour correction within FCPX. This is all great, but what you can do within FCPX itself is a little limiting. Color Finale offers a lot more adjustment and allows you to use industry standard colour wheels. This is far easier for doing colour adjustments than having to use the strange colour adjustments in FCPX.

FCPX tried to turn the colour wheel into a colour square

FCPX tried to turn the colour wheel into a colour square

As much as it sounds lazy, I prefer to grade within FCPX and not have to go back and forth between programs. While Color Finale looks to offer a lot of great features it certainly isn’t a DaVinci Resolve substitute. Colour Finale do plan to introduce features such as masks and tracking in a forthcoming ‘Pro’ version. If you only need to do basic grading and don’t require more complex features like tracking then it may well suit your needs.

Minimum system requirements
Apple Mac (2011+)

OS X 10.10 “Yosemite” officially supported

OpenCL 1.2 support. For a list of OpenCL 1.2 cards go to the website

Final Cut Pro X 10.1 or later

4 GB of RAM

Note: “Mavericks” 10.9 is not officially supported

It is still quite a hard sell to convince users to fork out $99 US when programs like Davinci Resolve Lite are free. You can download a free trial version for 7 days to see if it works for your needs.

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Posted on February 25th, 2015 by Matthew Allard | Category: Grading | Permalink | Comments (1)

Hands On With the Nebtek Odyssey 7/7Q/7Q+ Power Bracket

By technical editor Matt Allard:

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The Convergent Design Odyssey 7/7Q/7Q+ are fantastic monitor/recorders but they do lack one fundamental thing-a battery plate. I usually power my 7Q+ off a power distribution box when I am using it on larger cameras like the Sony F55, but what about when I want to use it on a Sony a7S or a GH4? I have been looking for an affordable, well made power solution that allows me to use existing smaller batteries that I already own. During my research I came across the Power Bracket from American company Nebtek.

The bracket features a lot of mounting options

The bracket features a lot of mounting options

This versatile system features an all aluminum cage that has 1/4″-20 and 3/8″-16 threaded holes located along the bottom and on both sides to give you a wide range of mounting possibilities, including being able to mount parts for camera rods made my Redrock Micro, Wooden Camera and Zacuto. The top mount attaches to the battery plate and allows you to undersling the Odyssey or attach accessories. For use with higher profile batteries you can simply remove the “L” mounting bracket using a Philips screwdriver.

A variety of battery plate options are available

A variety of battery plate options are available

The aluminum Odyssey Power Plate slides into the cage and allows you to power the Odyssey with (1) or (2) Sony, JVC, Canon, or Panasonic style camcorder lithium-ion batteries OR attach Anton Bauer or IDX Style V-Mount batteries. This large choice of battery plates allows for you to use older legacy batteries that you may have just laying around at home.

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The Odyssey7 Power Bracket includes a Power Cage, Handles, and Desk Stand with built-in light stand mount. The design is very modular and you can easily ad or remove the side handles with a thumb screw. I like the fact that the unit has been made to be very modular and you can separate all the components and only use what you need at the time.

You can easily attach the Power Bracket to a light stand

You can easily attach the Power Bracket to a light stand

The stand features a 5/8″ receiver and non-slip base and it too can be removed using a screwdriver. This allows for you to mount the Power Bracket on all sorts of light stands and other rigging equipment.

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You can also buy optional BNC cables and BNC bulkhead connectors to allow for routing cables out of the back of the stand. Full size BNC connectors will fit. Connectors with boots will be a bit tight.

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The bracket itself is very well made and lightweight but it doesn’t wrap around the front of the 7Q and offer any sort of protection to the screen. For me this is not an issue but some users may be wanting something that protects the screen. I would of liked to have seen a HDMI port protector included as well.

Using the Power Bracket with Sony NP batteries on the JVC GY-LS300

Using the Power Bracket with Sony NP batteries on the JVC GY-LS300

I primaraly just use the bracket and the Sony NP duel battery plate most of the time as this keeps the unit light enough to mount on cameras like the a7S and JVC GY-LS300. On the Sony NP battery plate there is a little switch you can push down on that gives you a battery level indication on the side of the plate. This is a very nice feature as Sony NP batteries do not have a battery indicator level on them. I would of liked to have seen a D-tap power outlet on the plate though as it would be handy to power accessories like a wireless HD receiver. The battery plate sits underneath the bracket and this clever design means the plate gets pushed away from the body of the 7Q and allows for heat to escape.

The battery indicator is a nice feature

The battery indicator is a nice feature

With the desk stand

With the desk stand

For using the Power Bracket as a directors monitor or for remote monitoring on set, you can sit it flat on a desk or attach it to a light stand. The handles are easy to hold onto and there are plenty of holes to run a strap through if you would prefer to put it around your neck.

With a V lock battery plate

With a V lock battery plate

The Nebtek Power Bracket is certainly one of the better options I have come across on the market if your looking for a lightweight solution for running batteries on the 7Q. It provides a lot of flexibility, is well made and a lot of thought has gone into the design.

The Power Bracket kit is available for $449 US.

Posted on February 25th, 2015 by Matthew Allard | Category: External recorders, Monitors, Rigs | Permalink | Comments (0)

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