Tag Archives: Video

F&V S80 Slider Review

 

F&F S80 SliderI first came across the F&V SA80 Slider when I say it at BVE 2013 a few months ago and nearly bought it then. I got to have a little play with it and was impressed for the price of £270. I have previously used an Ignus based slider but wasn’t that impressed  as once a bit of weight was added to it it would flex or wouldn’t run that well unless the centre of gravity was perfectly over the track. There are some great things about the Ignus sliders they are super quite and light to carry but the negative for me out weigh the positives

I came late to the whole slider thing and had an a project I though would benefit from some movement so I looked around for something that was good enough to do what I wanted but cheap enough to justify purchasing. As I was to shoot on a farm I needed something that would work both attached to a tripod and work on the ground, which I guessed would be very uneven so legs became a big factor to the decision making process. So looked around and  it came down to a choice of four, the Cinevate  Atlas 10, The Kessler Pocket DollyKonova K3 Slider and the F&V S80. Budget was also a factor so the Kessler was really out at this point in time as was the Cinevate. Kit for me has to pay for itself either longterm such as cameras or lenses or very quickly to be just used on two or three jobs, this was one of those times. This left the really choice between the Konova and the F&V sliders.

IMG_1179 (1)The Konova and the F&V are very similar in design but the F&V has what looked like more sturdy and adjustable feet, ideal for what I needed. Another difference is bow the roller bearings are kept clean, the Konova has little slides which required manually using to clear debris from the rails where as the F&V has bruises built into the slider carriage. The Konova does however have a larger stage for tripod head than the F&V one. A friend of mine recently bought the Konava version and I’ve seen it in action. It’s good, runs smoothly, doesn’t flex too much and is a little bit cheaper than the F&V one. But for me the choice came down to right tool for the right job and the feet and the flexibility they offered made all the difference. The other contributing factor to my choice was F&V themselves. I have two of their Z96 LED lights which I use a lot and got me out of main tricky situations.

Features

The sliders winning features for me were and are its legs and feet which are both incredibly adjustable and strong, ideal for almost any terrain. The spirit level on the slider carriage is also a handy to level out the slider.

So how is it in use?

Well, it seems quite sturdy and  doesn’t feel like it’s going to fall apart in the next five minutes but its not as smooth as I’d like and doesn’t run freely like I have seen other bearing based sliders. Like all new kit you are need to test it before taking it out on the road, so you know what is, and isn’t possible. As time was short I only got “play” with it for a few hours before taking it out on a shoot. I probably got a little too obsessed in using the slider for a good few hours on the first part of the shoot. Getting a fluid motion is hard. I have pushed a number of professional dollies in my time and they is much harder, probably due to lack on weight and inertia. Initially I am used a Manfrotto photographic ball head  with it which is great for using the slower in “tower mode” but doesn’t allow for pans and tilts. Since then I have purchased a Manfrotto MVH502HA video head which allows extra control as well as allowing me to use my Zacuto Mini Pase Plate and my follow focus. This has made a dramatic improvement in control and the additional weight has taken out some of the bumps.

Conclusion

It’s OK for the money. There is better out there but they cost more. So ultimately you get what you pay for. I’m sure that at some pointI’ll upgrade but right now its doing me fine. But like all kit my you use it the better you get using it, well that’s the theory.

The F&V S80 Slider is available from Cinegearpro

 

Fuji x10 Review

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This is probably my favourite camera right now and the one that is nearly always in my bag. I still probably use my iPhone to take more photos but this has replaced my Canon 5D on many occasions.

The things I absolutely love about this camera are, its size, it’s image, manual controls, build quality and it looks pretty cool in a retro way.

For the last three years I have hauled my Canon 5D around with me, professionally and personally. I love it and it still produces a better image that the x-10, especially in the low lights but its a lump to carry around and add a couple of lenses and you become your own packhorsealso its a pit conspicuous when you are on holiday and trying to fit in. Continue reading »

Getting Up Close and Saving Cash

Strawberry flowerWe all love seeing the world like no other, seeing things others don’t see. One way to go this is using macro photography, whether it be film or a still image there is something magical about seeing the world from a bugs persecutive. Over the last couple of years I have needed to shoot macro photography and every time I have planned to do so I find myself looking to picking up a macro lens for my Canon 5D. About thirty seconds later I head up stairs, not for my credit card but for my old Olympus OM kit.

I loved my Olympus OM2n, I still do and would never sell it, I’m emotionally attached to it, and to be honest it probably has very little cash value anymore. I bought the OM2n to replace, and as an upgrade from my first camera an Olympus OM10 which I shot my A Level photography with. At university, a time before digital had really hit the main stream, I shot my degree worth with the OM2n. From that point onwards it’s lived most of its life in a flight case along with lenses, filters and extension barrels. Continue reading »

Bikini Ballet

I recently worked on this a promo for the Bikini Ballet with Director Harry Amies. Bikini Ballet is a new dance company who specialise in bringing dance to corporate events and shows.

We shot using two cameras, a Canon 6D which Harry shot with and my 5D which I shot with. We shot over two evenings, at two locations, a photographic studio and a rather pink village hall which we plugged into darkness and lit using three lights and a few chairs to disguise the  pink as much as we could. Harry edited it using Adobe Premier

Case Study: Stocks Farm – Getting The Brand Out

A project I am currently involved in is a series of videos for a small organic farm in Suffolk, Stocks Farm. The genesis for the project came from a conversation on how to increase awareness of the farms brand, products and where to buy them. The farm until this point had, had almost zero presence on the web and practically no marketing to speak of.

The first thing we did was create a Facebook page and Twitter profile for the farm along with a temporary website. Having worked with a few people from the word and mouth industry I realized the importance of interaction with people on the web as it’s a key tool in building up brand awareness as it’s a great way to get very targeted messages out to the right people. Continue reading »

Social Media Week 2012

Just over a month ago it was Social Media Week. SMW spans the globe with events in all over the word including London and L.A. As part of this Angelic Films was asked by 1000 Heads to record several events in  London and and L.A for key supporter, Nokia. I shot in London while Shane Daley shot in L.A. Both of us shooting using Canon 5D kits with dual system sound. As ever these events are full of people wanting to share and exchange knowledge  and well worth going to if you get the opportunity next year.

Making It Look Good.

Recently I shot a wedding for a friend and as part of it I found myself doing something that has become fairly rare for me, actually printing the photographs. I love prints, despite most images that I create now only ever seen only electronically there is still something far nicer than a print or set of prints. Try sharing and passing a stack of photos around a room with family or friends with only one computer screen or iPad. It’s not a social experience unlike a set for physically printed photographs. In the past I have got prints produced by dedicated photo printers in London but on this occasion I decided to try myself as I was only needing prints no bigger than A4. Continue reading »

Nokia Gift Machine at Cafe 1001, Shoreditch

A couple of weeks I edited the above video for Angelic Films about Nokia’s Gift Machine which they installed in Cafe 1001, Shoreditch, London. The Gift machine as more stamps in its passport than I do, being that it’s been to Spain the U.A.E and many other places. Created by 1001 Heads, the Nokia Gift Machine links up with Foursquare allowing people to win free stuff when they check into the gift machine where ever it is in the world and you don’t have to me a Nokia user to do it. The film was shot using a Canon 5d mk2 and edited on FCP7.

Nokia Lumia and the Steadicam Smoothee

Last year I worked on a project with Angelic Films for Nokia converting some Steadicam Smoothee’s for the Nokia N8. See here for details. Time has progressed in the mobile word and Nokia have now released the Lumia 800 into the world and again come back to us to see if we could again adapt the Steadicam Smoothie for their new phone. The phone’s camera is head and shouldered above Nokias previous N8 it terms of quality, ease of use and control. If I wasn’t so wedded into the Apple ecosystem this is the phone I would choose right now.

The Lumia 800 has a slightly larger form factor that the N8 but after testing it we found that it still fitsthe Quick Release Stedicam Smoothee Mount for iPhone 3GS, which was also the mount we previously modified for the Nokia N8. There was however on additional modification we had to make, milling down the top clip so it didn’t rest on one of the buttons.

We did this using a Dremel with a barrel sanding attachment. Without this modification the clip presses the button stopping the camera working and potentially turns the phone off as well. The sander actually heats up the plastic whilst it spins sometimes leaving a melted area on the edge which can easily removed by snapping it on once cold. When milling out the recess for the button it is important to have the Smoothie mounting plate does not move. I found the simplest way was to use my tripod as the Smoothie mounting plate actually has a 1/4 inch threaded hole in it’s base precisely to do this.

Next we created the aperture for the camera to look though. The Lunia unlike the N8 is flat which is a great thing for your pocket but also means that the camera lens sits a few mm’s back from front plate of that of the Smoothee mount. This means the hole needs to be slightly bigger that that of the previous N8 Modification. Drilling though the actual mount requires care because it is a sandwich of plastic and metal, the metal being in the middle. We found the best way was to first of all drill a small pilot hole using a 4mm HSS drill bit then using a 13mm HSS drill bit in a drill press. It is important the drill bits are sharp or the friction created with actually cause so much heat it will melt the plastic.  This won’t actuallybe big enough but it is the most efficient way of  doing it cheaply. To keep the metal heating up too much I spayed it with water whilst drilling.

The Steadicam mount is quite tricky to hold securely because of it’s shape and because it, being made mostly of plastic it flexes under presure. To get around these issues I used an old cork sanding block and cut a section out so the mount would grip around it. This solved the shape problem. to solve the flexing problem I added a small bit of MDF on top of the sanding block

This meant The mount could be clamped down securely onto the drill press.

Once the 13mm hole had been been drilled out it was time to move onto enlarging the hole. Initially we used the Dremel with metal cutting bit this is very quick and efficient but doesn’t always leave the prettiest of finishes. So to finish of the camera aperture I used a Rucko HSS step drill bit. As the hole needed to be approximately 18mm in diameter the step drill is ideal. The only minor problem using the step drill I used was that the actual steps were not deep enough as the Steadicam mount is about 5mm thick and the steps on the drill 4mm. Not insurmountable but worth being taking into consideration as it means tuning the mount over briefly to drill out the extra 1mm from the mount. All that was need next was a small bit of filing, a quick wash under the tap to get rid of any metal dust, and a permanent black marker pen to colour in the exposed metal. The reason for this is not just because it makes it look pretty but it also stops the metal reflecting light into the lens, preventing ugly flares which would spoil all the hard work. Job done!

 

 

A Very British Cult on Indiegogo

 

This week sees the launch of the Indiegogo campaign for  November Films “A Very British Cult.”   A Very British Cult is going to be a feature length documentary about the 1970’s and early 1980’s self help group Exegesis. A group that was  not short of controversy every resulting in questions in Parliament and a BBC program about it.

Louis Price our director grow up in the program with both his parents members of the organisation and is exploring what really went on and examining how it has effected his and the other members lives.

Most of the documentary will be shot digitally just like the above pitch video which we filmed main on my Canon 5D. However there is the intention is to shoot part of the documentary using dramatic re-enactment the on 16mm film, which will be more in keeping with media production of the time . This will probably be the last time I get to shoot on actual film which is both an exciting and yet sad prospect.

November films have a good track record in the documentary field having already produced Beyond Biba, and distributed several documentaries in the UK.

To learn more about the campaign or the film click here to take you to the Indiegogo campaign page

 

Ratan Tata – Asian Business Leaders Award – Asia House

A couple of months ago whilst working for York Smith Productions I was part of the team that filmed filmed the Asian Business Leaders Award for Asia House and the historic Banqueting House in Whitehall, London. We shot eh even using 2 Sony EX3’s in fixed positions and  Canon 5D which I operated, roaming around the venue and event. The small form factor of the Canon 5D is make sit an ideal for event work specially when space is at a premium.

Cooking test shoot

As the year is coming to an end and the nights are drawing in I am already planning projects for next year. One of which is to be a cooking series injunction with with brother-in-law Iain who as well as being a trained chef is now an organic farmer, with a farm on the Suffolk/Essex border. Currently they visit two farmers markets a week one in Stoke Newington on a Saturday and Queens Park Farmers Market on a Sunday. Here Iain not only sells the produce of the farm but often gives out cooking advice. Next year we intent to take this a little further and create a cooking video blog around the farm and the produce it sells integrated with recipe methods and ingredient lists.  Right now we are in the designing and testing stages before going into production sometime after Christmas, trying to establish a look and style along with the practicalities, which are numerous.

The video above was shot in that vain, to see how the lenses I currently own as well as how the Canon 5d mk2 would fair close up. So as christmas was coming I thought I’d try  shooting the making of a Christmas cake. Admittedly the cake in question was a Delia Smith kit from Waitrose. Lighting wise I did start out with practical available light and my 150w pepper until the bulb exploded and from there on it was just the kitchen and under counter lights. As the location we have in mind doesn’t currently have a mains electricity supply we will be looking low powered and battery powered lighting for the actual shoots. This is only one test we will need to undertake along with a set test and testing what are the best cooking equipment to use both in terms of best for filming, cooking and overall design look.

Weekend Warriors: Canis Belli.

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Many months ago I met up with filmmaker and blogger Robin Schimdt or as he is knows on Twitter  aka_elskid, at the London screening of  Zacutos Camera Shootout 2011. In the pub after the event he talked about an ambitious short film he had written set in the trenches of the first world war, Canis Belli. I told him if he needed a hand to give me a shout. Now when you usually hear about plans for short films of this scale you very rarely hear of them again. The ambition and scale usually halts any prospect of actually shooting them.

Fast forward almost five months and I get a message on Twitter from aka_skid to see if I was available as he was about to shoot the film along with co-director Gez Medinger, aka JerzyBondov. The film was to be shot over two and a half days on a permanent standing set just north of  Ipswich on Trench Farm. The set was been used from many major productions including Downton Abbey Continue reading »

Cannes Young Lions Winners

Following my previous post I can can now reveal the brief was to create a sixty second commercial for  the charity Global Angels and the winners are;

USA Hispanic Team win Golden Lion

South Africa win Silver Lion

USA win Bronze Lion

 

USA Hispanic team hard at work in the edit bay

Looking back through the paperwork I see that all the winners took full advantage of the equipment we hauled to Cannes and back which has the trip very satisfying.

 

 

Picture Profile’s

I only ever shoot photographs in RAW, that is unless I’m shooting a time lapse sequence to be turned into a video at which point I shoot Medium JPEG’s. Although I have been known to shoot time lapse in RAW then batch convert them to JPEG’S, but this is usually as a result of forgetting to change settings.

RAW is wonderful allowing me to manipulate the image at incredible depth by the use of Apple’s Aperture. Because of this when I am shooting photos I rarely even consider the Picture Profile button on the camera. After all you never had all this to consider when you shot on film did you?  Well you did kind of.  You and I choose film for certain qualities, Kodak, Fuji and Ilford each produce very individual looking film with differing qualities. We all had our favourite and knew what was best for each situation or the look we wanted in the end.
Continue reading »

moments in time

Moments in time from Christopher Hughes on Vimeo.

HDSLR cameras have amongst other things created a great resurgence in time lapse photography. The ease and simplicity can make for quite a addictive experience as you don’t always know what exactly you are going to capture.

Last week I too dipped, for the first time, my toe into these time lapse waters and above is the result. The film is created from seven sessions of between thirty minute and an hour and a half  shooting a frame every three or four seconds. QuickTime’s were created from the stills using Quicktime 7 and the whole thing edited using Final Cut Pro. which took quick some time because of the amount of rendering required because of the native size of each of the time lapse QuickTimes.

The music for the film is by the amazing Moby and was licensed from mobygratis.com a wonderful resource for non profit film makers, something I had heard about sometime ago but never looked into until now.

Kit used:
  • Canon 5d MK2
  • Canon EF 24-70mm 2.8f
  • Manfrotto 561 BDHV monopod
  • Yongnuo Timer Remote Controller
  • Zacuto Z-finder

Going Social

Chances are that if you are reading this you kind of have some grasp on what social media is and I’ll not bore you explaining to the converted. The exciting part of social media to me is not the technology but the content and how it spills in and out from the digital world.

The above video “Social Media Week Highlights: Random Acts of Kindness with #NOKIAConnects” shows how Nokia randomly gave away phones all over the world to people who responded to tweets on twitter. Nokia didn’t shout we’re giving phones away they just asked to meet a few people to talk about social media week and then gave them a phone. Which is very cool as there was no real expectation from the those who came to meet up. I think the reactions say it all and would imagine they probably told, blogged and tweeted all about it, expanding the impact of a simple act of kindness.

I shot some of the above London footage using my Canon 5D mk2 and a Canon 24-70mm L for AngelicDigital who compiled and organised the whole world wide media edit for their client 1000Heads, a top Word and Mouth Agency on behalf of Nokia.

Aussie Bloggers’ Christmas Markets

Aussie Bloggers’ Christmas Markets from 1000heads on Vimeo.

I edited this just before Christmas using Final Cut Pro at Angelic Films office in Pinewood Studios, whilst surrounded by snow.  Although not shot by me it was shot entirely using my Canon 5D mk2 and a Rode Videomic, over two days in December.

Shamaila Khan Album Cover

Last Friday Shahid Bawa, Shamaila Khan’s producer dropped by the office and gave me a copy of Shamaila Khans new CD with one of my photos adorning the front of it. As the Canon 5D is out on hire, I took this with my iPhone.

 

 

 

The album cover was shot whist we were shooting the video for her next single, Dum Se Dum at Greenford Studios in London. The video was shot on the Red camera and directed by Adam Coop of Angelic Films. Here are a few more images from the shoot.

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