Useful Information from VMI
Wireless lens control systems (WLCS for short) have changed enormously over the last 10 or so years and have evolved from being a luxury option on a kit list to becoming a necessity on virtually every shoot. This article aims to explore the question of how to choose between the various systems and to introduce the range of WLCS systems which VMI arguably considers the best in their field and explain why we think that they work very well in given scenarios.
The relentless squeezing of production budgets means that we are all keen to make the most of the money that we have and this article aims to offer some sensible advice.
Firstly, some good news - Broadcast equipment is getting cheaper, so the questions always asked by Production Companies are the following, which we will attempt to answer:
• How to compare rental prices from competing rental companies?
• What equipment to use?
• Whether to buy or hire?
• Or, if buying is considered, then when is the right time to buy?
Every now and again we come across items that radically change the way that productions are shot - like a presenter/interrotron device which puts inexperienced presentors feel more at ease ...
...and sometimes we come across items that work incredibly well and improve upon what people use already, like a robotic slider that fits in a travel bag.
Either way, Kevin considered that all of these items come into the heading of Stuff that you didn't know you needed and We liked Kevin's idea and name so much, that we have even given these products a special subcategory on the accessories heading on our website!
We all know that capturing linear images in a native codec does not give the same range of dynamic contrast as shooting in a Log format, or better still, a RAW format. However RAW files are so HUGE and the data is so unwieldy that until now, this hasn't really been practical, as only few high-end cameras, such as ARRI Alexa XT (and now also Alexa Mini with optional licence) were capable of on-board RAW acquisition and storage was pricey.
However, the Odyssey 7Q has changed all of this with the release of the new Titan HD extract firmware release to make a cost-effective RAW capture device compatible with the RAW outputs of many currently available 4K cameras. This article explains how the Odyssey 7Q/7Q+ with RAW option is able to record 10 and 12 bit RAW images from cameras including ARRI Alexa, Panasonic VLT, Canon C300 Mk II, Sony FS-7 and others are available, as well as other benefits of shooting RAW.
This article is the reproduction of some excerpts of a CML thread about HDR and monitoring HDR, which I have reproduced with permission from Geoff Boyle and Art Adams. it was really interesting and is about HDR from the DOP's perspective.
We all know the importance of the data and footage we shoot, either for yourself or for that important client.
Should the unthinkable happen and you lose your data, whether it be by deleting the wrong file or formatting the wrong card, seeing the dreaded 'card error' message, or worse still your card becomes corrupted and unreadable, it can be a stressful time.
This article gives some useful tips to prevent this from happening and to know what to do if you are unlucky enough to experience it.
A very useful chart including all current HD and 4K cameras in a table and compariring useful data including image size, latitude, pixel resolution power consumption etc.
Compiled by Tom Fletcher and Gary Adcock with information gathered from numerous conversations with various cinematographers, colorists, colleagues and manufacturers. and reproduced with kind permission from Tom Fletcher
A very useful chart including all current film zoom lenses in a table and compariring useful data including image coverage, front diameter, weight, min T stop etc.
Compiled by Tom Fletcher and Gary Adcock and reproduced with kind permission from Tom Fletcher
IATA Guidelines and FAQs on carrying batteries on aeroplanes Batteries Carried by Airline Passengers. ***updated July 2016
The rules have on air travel with Lithium-ion batteries have become much more restrictive recently and and you have to be aware of the new limitations. this article has been completely updated with the guidance of IATA in July to help make you aware of these new rules.
To summarise this document.
Lithium-ion cells and batteries sent as cargo are forbidden on passenger aircraft, as of 1 April 2016
Lithium-ion cells and batteries must be offered for transport as a state of charge (SoC) not exceeding 30% of their rated capacity.
Spare Lithium-ion batteries not exceeding 100HW are permitted in carry-on luggage.
A maximum of 2 x spare Lithium-ion battery exceeding 100WH but not exceeding 160WH are permitted in carry-on luggage allowance per passenger with the approval of the carrying airline.
If your crew is travelling as a group, then you can share your Lithium-ion allowance between the travelling crew to ensure the maximum Lithium-battery allowance within the limits mentioned above.
You must check the allowance for your airline prior to travelling, in case they have specific guidelines of their own.
This is a short article examining the most popular lighting fixtures and technologies concentrating on their advantages, limitations and applications. As with all such equipment the pace of change and development can sometimes disaffect the end user who will understandably stick to known and trusted tools rather than seeking out new fixtures and technology which are now available.
This article is split into 3 sections:
Section 1: Lighting Technology defines the 4 main categories of lighting technology (Tungsten, HMI, Fluorescent and& LED).
Section 2: Fixtures and Fittings then explore the differences between hard lighting vs. soft lighting; open face lamps vs fresnelFresnel lamps; Soft lights and beauty lights and accesoriesaccessories
Section 3: Common Lighting Setup Examples introduces some common interview lighting setups.
This guide has been written as an overview of HDR technology for TV as it stands in January 2016.
HDR makes pictures STUNNING and since the technology is very new and it still in development so take this guide as a snapshot of the current developments.
This technology is very new and it still in development so take this guide as a snapshot of the current developments. All major industry players are now on board and the standard has been established but we expect to see few more changes in the final stages of development of this exciting new technology.
Alexa Mini or Amira?
(or why I must have a Mini because it’s newer and better isn’t it?…no wait….)
This is a short article to highlight the differences and similarities between the two cameras in order to assist VMI clients in making sensible and informed choices about which system would be most suitable for a given project.
Sony have a habit of changing camera models every year and now we have the Sony PMW-F5 and FS-7 cameras, both of which are capable of high quality 4K recording and have the ability to be partnered with £50,000 or £500 lenses, so is the newer FS-7 better than the older and more expensive PMW-F5?
This is a short article to explore the merits of both cameras for modern production.
The Canon C300 has had a long and illustrious career as the camera of choice for mainstream UK TV for a few years and now with the release of the C300 Mark II, we investigate whether the fuss is at all justified. We think that it is and this short article explains why.
A very useful Prime Lens chart produced by Thomas Fletcher, detailing specific characteristics of the differing PL anamorphic prime lens sets and also where in the world you can hire them from.
Would you leave £200,000 (of anything) in an unattended vehicle?
Theft from vehicles and sets accounts for more than half of all equipment theft.
Theft is an Industry Epidemic and here are some guidelines to assist you to reduce this growing problem.
A new VMI guide with video, courtesy of Stephen Roach and Jermaine Allen of Merchant Cantos showing just how easy it is to create unique 'Bullet time 360" videos for the ultimate 'hero' selfie. No longer to you needed a fixed rig of perhaps 50 DSLR cameras in a circle to make this shot with a lot of crew, knowhow and data
This is definitely the time of the Gimbal. Ever since the incredibly stable images produced from the first MōVI 10 system went viral in 2013 from an operator doing his best to unseat the camera, the word Gimbal has entered into the vernacular of the filmmaker. Steadicams had been around for a long time but you had to have a trained operator – so if you couldn’t afford a Steadicam, then it was clear that you needed to hire a Gimbal. (You still need training to use and balance a Gimbal effectively but they are much quicker to master).
This article explains the benefits and limitations of using these Gimbal systems and provides essential information if you want to use one in production.
A short summary of the big IBC dilemma: adopt 4K now or wait for 8K (AKA UHD-1 or UHD-2).
DoP Duncan Telford shot a Weetabix commercial with Uncoated Cooke Mini S4s and describes in this new article what it is like to shoot with uncoated lenses and how this look varies between different types of lenses
Sony have been very busy with the release of their new version 3.0 firmware release for the F5, and F55, which brings a host of new features and new functionality for these increasingly versatile cameras.
With close to 30 new features, this is a major release and increases both the marketability and perception of the Sony digital motion picture cameras for PMW-F5, F55 and AXS-R external recorders.
A short article detailing the excellent slow motion capability of the Odyssey 7Q when used in conjunction with the Sony FS-700, Canon C500 and ARRI Alexa
What is the collective term for tripod tubes? We think that it is a pyramid! VMI has invested in a new range of rigid tripod tubes to replace the soft bags which house our Sachtler Video 18 and Video 20 tripod fleet. They are very lightweight, yet include wheels for easy transportation and are also aeroplane friendly too but offer much greater protection and look smart too!
The new generation lens adapters promise the range and convenience of shooting HD ENG lenses with large sensor cameras and Ian has tried them out. Here is his article on everything that you need to know about shooting with video-style lenses on large sensor cameras.
A series of EOS C300 Tutorial Series Videos from Canon
The ARRI arrived in the 2nd part of 2014. Smaller, lighter, shorter and less expensive than the ARRI Alexa but most unmistakably an ARRI nonetheless - only with Canon EF and B4 Broadcast lens compatibility, enter the ARRI AMIRA.. This is a brief introduction to the camera and its functionality.
VMI have recently and uniquely removed the coatings from a set of Zeiss distagon lenses in order to bring this very popular ‘vintage’ look into an affordable pricing sphere.
We believe that this may be the first set in the world to have been uncoated and as you can see from the examples, the effect can be as dramatic or subtle as required.
This article seeks to explore the effects that removing the lens coatings can have on an image
ARRI recently announced the introduction of a new Alexa camera series, the ‘XT’ which has a different on board recording module compared to the other established cameras in the series and will replace this range. As the Alexa range is now effectively a ‘fleet’, we at VMI feel at this stage a short précis of each camera’s parameters and functionality is appropriate in order to enable producers and production companies to target the correct package at an early stage of preparation.
An essay arguing the case for and against 4K.
1. What is 4K
2. Do we need 4K
3. When is 4K not 4K
4. Challenges of 4K acquisition
5. Viewing 4K
6. 4K delivery to end users
7. How long with penetration take
Sony's FS-700 will permit slow motion ramping in 4K and 2K to 240fps using RAW with IF5 interface and AXS-R5 external recorder (release date Summer 2013)
A Producer’s guide to the pros and cons of shooting in 4K
What is 4K?
What Shoots in 4K?
4K options currently
4K External Recorders
DoPs will tell you that lenses are what really count in a quality production to influence not only the look and depth of field of the programme but how different designs of lenses can also influence close focus shooting as well. A short synopsis to explain just why MasterPrimes are so good.
It has never been so easy to stream directly to the internet from a live video source. This article will explain in easy steps the equipment and applications needed in order to arrange a live webcast and what to expect when you do this for the first time.
Video Bitrate Calculator
VMI are always following trends in technologies of TV production techniques and the field of lighting hire is no exception.
Conventional inefficient lighting technologies use large quantities of power which are beyond the conventional 13A ring mains, so generators, bigger trucks and specialised sparks, etc are required with the inevitable effect on budget and new generation LED lights and cool lights reduce the physical size and also power requirements.
VMI recognise that it you can plus all lights into 13A plugs, then this will have a dramatic effect on cost, by doing without a generator and really big truck! The BBC has already thought about this and this white paper is brought to you here for your convenience.
The Apple ProRes format comes in five versions: Apple ProRes 4444, Apple ProRes 422 (HQ), Apple ProRes 422, Apple ProRes 422 (LT), and Apple ProRes 422 (Proxy). This is an overview of their specifications
There is such a selection of large screen cameras now, all promising to achieve the elusive ‘film look’, that it can be hard for film makers to make an informed choice in the selection of choosing the right combination of camera and lenses.
This short article aims to illustrate the main differences between the current range of cameras in order to help you make that choice!
Both are made by RED sharing the same impressive 5K Super-35 sensor but the Epic costs twice as much. This article explains the differences between them and their best environments for production
The VMI app is a must have for programme makers in the UK. It is an app for creating Broadcast HD shooting packages for rental in London and allows you to download and browse the entire VMI equipment database remotely, share shooting packages with other users on iPhone and over the web and lots more!
ACQUISITION: THE EMULATION OF THE PHYSICAL AND CREATIVE CHARACTERISTICS OF 35MM FILM IN THE DIGITAL DOMAIN.
Usually at VMI, we make articles really easy for people to read but the inclusion of this essay this makes no apology for being a Master's level exploration about the aesthetic merit of film vs digital cinema! This essay is reproduced here by permission from VMI's own Ian Jackson (Assoc. BSC) as his master's thesis for which he was graded with distinction - well done Ian!
An introduction to HD Recorders, their advantages, specifications and overview.
Discussion to help to decide on which HD recorder is appropriate for a given production.
This article describes how modern DSLR Cameras are now a practical consideration for shooting productions with excellent results on a low budget.
A shallow Depth of Field can reduce the bandwidth requirement of video, which is good for the internet.
We wanted to test this theory and this article explores this idea and concludes that you can save around 10% bandwidth by shooting with a large sensor camera compared with a small sensor camera, as the shallow depth of field means that you capture only the bits that you want in fine detail and as background is defocused.
All modern cameras shoot on removeable media these days and you need to be prepared to adopt best practise for acquisition, data workflow and post production to get the most of your programme, whilst maintaining media security.
RED Links and Resources
VMI RED Equipment for rental
VMI RED DIT Training Coursese
OFFICIAL RED CAMERA USER FORUM
DISCUSSION OF REDCODE COMPRESSION AND ARTIFACTS
REDCODE 28 vs 36
4K 16:9 vs 4K 2:1 vs 4K HD
DATA TRANSFER WITH AND WITHOUT CHECKSUMS
MONITOR OUT COLOUR INACCURACIES
CAMERA WON'T RECOGNISE DRIVE
STROBING WHEN PANNING
P2 and AVCCAM contents manager software and drivers.
Panasonic's AVC Intra codec works with the Panasonic HPX250, HPX-3000, HPX-3100, HPX-2700 and HPX-3700 and the quality compares with the Panavision Genesis and HDCAM SR, which makes it the best format for chroma key around – this explains why
A no-nonsense guide to using the fab new RED One Camera
Useful RED Information
1. Role of the D.I.T
2. IR and RED
3. Good Red Practice
How modern 35mm adapters have enabled a new range of 35mm optics to be used on popular consumer and prosumer camcorders to very good effect.
An outline guide to HD and film lenses
HD Tapeless Workflow Seminar presented by VMI Managing Director, Barry Bassett at the London Broadcast and Video Expo Thursday 19 Feb 2009.
Helping you to choose a digital format – completely revised Dec 08
Outline of the popular DVCPro HD format and HDX-900 Camera
FAQ from clients about using P2:
I have to say, that on shoots where we don't have a data wrangler (all of them), I've found working with XDCAM discs infinitely better than p2 cards. Offloading several 100mbs p2 cards at the end of the shoot has added sometimes 3hrs to the day. We need to find a better workflow!
I understand this BUT it is different now. This is because P2 is traditionally 100Mb/second but shooting on AVC Intra 50Mb/s is the same data size as XDCAM HD ((50Mb/second), so the data is the same size.
Modern transfer tools such as Nexto DI http://vmi.tv/equipment/8/accessories/512/nexto-di-nvs-2525-standard-video-storage-pro-hard-diskarchive-unit , work at eSATA speeds and take all of the pain out of the transfer.
You won't suffer any of the problems of close focus of the XF-305 and you won't need an external recorder either.
The BBC's passing of the HPX-250 will make an easier camera available and the new data workflow makes it practical too!
Everything you ever wanted to know about P2… but were too afraid to ask!
Outline of the popular HDCAM format and camera range
XDCAM HD Camera System and file-based workflow
Everything that you need to know about Sony's new file-based memory stick format to compete with Panasonic's P2 format
Sony XDCAM-EX Software Drivers and Browsers for Mac and PC (all models)
Infrared cinematography opens up a whole new spectrum of light not visible to the unaided eye. This has the potential to give otherwise ordinary scenes a surreal and dream-like appearance and can really affect the look of the images. In this article by RED.com, several of the unique applications and technical hurdles are explored.
XDCAM HD and XDCAM EX post workflow using AVID (pdf)
Tapeless Acquisition Seminar 19 Feb 09 (pdf)
as given by VMI MD Barry Bassett at the Broadcast Live Expo.