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ADOBE CREATIVE CLOUD UPDATE page 12

YOUR GUIDE TO CREATING AND PUBLISHING GREAT VIDEO NOVEMBER 2014


14X vs.

23X

With JVCs 23X Zoom, your shots will take center stage.
Our new GY-HM600 is your ticket to amazing performances. With the new GY-HM600, JVC introduces the next
generation of handheld ProHD cameras. Light and easy to use, its equipped with a newly developed Fujinon 23X Wide Angle
(29mm667mm) Zoom lens, and delivers remarkable imagery. The GY-HM600 offers intuitive features that make it ideal for shooting
news, sports, and independent production. You can also count on superb low-light performance with excellent sensitivity (F11 @ 2000
lux). Heres some other great features:
Three 1/3-inch 12-bit CMOS sensors (1920 x 1080 x 3)
Produces ready-to-edit HD or SD files in multiple file formats: .MOV (Final Cut Pro), .MP4 (XDCAM EX), AVCHD
SDXC/SDHC memory card recording (2 slots for simultaneous or relay recording)

For more information on the GY-HM600 Series, talk to the Pros at JVC. Visit pro.jvc.com

DSLR

Mirrorless
Does it matter?

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2012 JVC. All trademarks and brand names are the property of their respective proprietors. Camera shown with optional shotgun microphone.

Innovation Without Compromise

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Unlock the Tools for Post-production Magic

Slow Motion. Animated Opens. Dust & Flickering Light. Exploding Logos. Loop Expressions. Day-for-Night.
Its all a part of the post-production magic at: videomaker.com/magic

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Contents

NOVEMBER 2014

www.videomaker.com

Features

22 DSLR or Mirrorless: Which is the Best


Choice for Video?

32 Why Your Tripod is Your Most Important


Purchase

Other than your camera, a tripod is the only piece of equipment you
own that will go to every shoot. The best filmmakers never underestimate the importance of having a great tripod.
By David G. Welton

With so many cameras available from so many manufacturers,


purchasing your first interchangeable lens camera can be a
daunting task. Your first question might be mirrorless or DSLR?
by Odin Lindblom

28 How to Decide What Lens to Use

Zoom in; zoom out; telephoto; wide. Which lens do you use
and what feeling does that lens give to your viewer? The
answer is as much an emotional decision as it is technical.
by JR Strickland

22
HEAR THIS

On the Cover
Nikon D810 vs. Panasonic DMC-GH4

At 140 decibels, the human ear is past the threshold of pain. Its like standing within 165 feet of a roaring jet engine.
But the all-new H5 Handy Recorder can take it. More than any other field recorder, the H5
allows you to capture audio louder, cleaner and closer than ever before.

32

40 The Rapid Evolution of the Consumer


Camcorder

In stark contrast to the giant VHS-cassette based cameras of the


1980s, todays camcorders are sleek, feature-filled and affordable.
By Russ Failey

54

Columns
2 Viewfinder
Shooting for Fun
by Matthew York

46 Basic Training

Ten Ways to Think Like a Pro


by Kyle Cassidy

Were Zoom. And Were For Creators.

50 Planning

A Plea for Pre-Production


by Odin Lindblom

On Sale November 25, 2014

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4
6
62

Whats On Videomaker.com
New Gear
Ad Index

Reviews
8 Panasonic DMC-GH4
4k Mirrorless Camera
By Chris Monlux

57 Audio

16 Kino Flo Celeb 400 DMX

60 Editing
contents

Departments

12 Adobe CC Update 2014

How to Use a Mixing Board


by Chris Monlux

How to Take Advantage of High Dynamic Range


Selective Color Correction
Camcorder Buyers Guide
The Anatomy of a Lens

57

54 Directing

Director: Hands Off the Camera


by Peter Biesterfield

Next Month

Volume 29 Number 05

Organizing the Timeline


by Chris Ace Gates

64 Production Tips

Getting Started With Adobe After Effects


by Russ Fairley

Professional Editing Software


By Chris Ace Gates
Professional LED light
By Ty Audronis

18 Libec Allex

Camera Support
By David G. Welton

Subscribe to
Videomaker & save
up to 76% off the
newsstand price!

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Try an issue risk-free at:


videomaker.com/subscription

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2014 Zoom Corporation

VI D EO MA K ER >>> N O VEMBER 20 14

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VIEWFINDER
by Matthew Y or k

Shooting For Fun

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As adult humans existing within a


Western culture, we live in a world
where most of our activities are
driven by obligation, expectations and
increasingly higher goals for improvement. For most of our waking lives,
the value of any activity in which we
engage is measured by its productivity
and profitability. By this standard of
measure, anything that can be accomplished with more efficiency, by taking
less time, or more economically, by requiring a lower investment of financial
assets, is deemed more worthwhile.
Many of us have been conditioned
to evaluate the ROI in regard to the
way we use our time and resources.
We are drawn then to evaluate the
comparative value of the activities
in which we choose to participate in
comparison to other activities that
might be judged as better uses of our
time and energy. As a result, we must
look for reasons to justify our hobbies
as worthwhile because there may be
some sort of measurable return that
might one day bring a payoff. And so
we systematize our relaxation and feel
pressure to strategically squeeze out
the maximum amount of enjoyment
from our limited windows of opportunity for leisure. We take something
that should be fun and we create stress
around it, making an activity that
might be replenishing instead depleting. It saps our joy. This is not how we
have always functioned, and it may not
be the best way to continue. What if we
stopped?
Children at play are not concerned
with time, cost or return. Theyre able
to participate in an activity purely for
the sake of enjoyment. Often, the only
measure of value attached to playtime
is the degree of fun that the child
experiences. As a result, children are
not stressed as they play, and they are
highly creative. It is no surprise that
fun and enjoyment lead to greater creativity. Creativity leads to satisfaction.
Adults attach fun to quality. Typically

Videomaker empowers people to make video in a way


that inspires, encourages and equips for success. We
do this by building a community of readers, web visitors,
viewers, attendees and marketers.

publisher/editor
associate publisher
director of content
associate editor
associate editor
associate editor
art director/photographer
contributing editors

our degree of enjoyment is attached


to a level of proficiency; so a person
who finds they are good at golf will
find enjoyment in participating in that
hobby. Kids do not do this naturally. A
child can take great pride in creating
a perfectly terrible painting. They can
enjoy the process apart from the result.
Many of us began making video
for pure enjoyment. Maybe you still
do. But, somewhere along the line, I
suspect that some have lost sight of
that joy. Maybe you have been caught
up in a cycle of pressure and deadlines
and demands and profitability that has
dampened your spirit and limited your
creativity. If so, let me encourage you
to step outside your routine and produce something made solely for your
enjoyment and purely for fun. There
is freedom in doing something that is
not attached to a deadline, not required
to deliver a return on investment and
not subject to critique. My hope is
that you re-discover a love for making
video that will spur you on to greater
creativity. You may find that by removing the pressure, you ultimately realize
that the greatest ROI is a deep sense of
satisfaction in the creative process.

Matthew York is Videomaker's Publisher/Editor.

For comments, email: editor@videomaker.com, use article


#17014 in the subject line.

director of advertising
advertising representative
telephone (530) 891-8410
account executive

Matthew York
Patrice York
Mike Wilhelm
Greg Olson
Jordan Claverie
Nicole LaJeunesse
Susan Schmierer
Kyle Cassidy
Chris Ace Gates
Mark Holder
Mark Levy
Terry ORourke

Olin Smith

director of
business development

Terra Yurkovic

marketing manager
marketing coordinator

Joseph Ayres
Jackson Wong

information systems
manager
web developer

Seth Hendrick
Jill Lutge

director of finance
accountant
customer service
/fulfillment coordinator

Hi-def digital video


deserves hi-def digital audio.

Stephen Awe
Jessica Anderson
Tiffany Harness

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P R INTED IN USA
V IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

Sound Focus

Isaac York

SYSTEM

CAMERA-MOUNT

DIGITAL 2.4 GHz HIGH-F IDELITY WIRELESS


Put the professional stamp on your video projects with Audio-Technicas new simple-to-use System 10 Camera-mount.
Operating in the 2.4 GHz range far from TV interference, this digital wireless system features advanced 24-bit operation
and three levels of diversity assurance to deliver the amazingly clear, natural audio your digital images demand.
Wherever your audio or video takes you, listen for more.

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audio-technica.com

Go Mobile

Reading on the go? Find Videomaker on your iPhone and iPad along with apps
that help video producers on location. Go to www.videomaker.com/r/676.

November 2014

Whats on Videomaker.com
Advice Wanted
Question:
Trav Baum: In the past I have dabbled
with video editing here and there via
a video game podcast I was a part of
for a few years. Ive recently started a
new job, but after the bosses discovering some video work Ive completed in
the past, Im officially their audio/video
director. Ive been doing video professionally for 2 months now.
I enjoy the videos I have finished for
the company fairly well, but Id love
some outside constructive advice regarding the work Ive wrapped to date.
Videos will be linked out below. I edit in
Adobe Premiere Pro CS6.
Thanks for the advice, in advance!
vimeo.com/102482409
Reply:
Jackson Wong: Very cool work Travis.
Nicely composed shots on the whole,
and I especially loved the flying shots
in the Wonder Works video. Seems
like you really like editing with music,
my personal taste is a little smoother
between VO and music. I had to do
a double take to match the VO with
Marshall, though I can imagine the constraints you had there. Across all your
videos Id take a close look at the focus
and white balance. In the cooking class
video, some of the food and skin tones
look a little unnatural.... See more at:
videomaker.com/r/021

Starting a Video Business: Advice


Starting your own business is a high risk, high
reward scenario that can seem like a daunting task. Those who have been in the trenches
have valuable insight into what it takes to be
successful.
videomaker.com/r/019

....

Entering the world of video


production is an exciting venture.
Knowing some of the fundamental
rules and techniques can help you
increase your production skills
while avoiding common pitfalls.
The editors at Videomaker have
created The Beginners Guide to
Professional Results, outlining the
things you need to know to get
presentable video right out of the
gate. Available in DVD and digital
downloadable formats.
Learn more and watch the preview video at: videomaker.com/
BestFoot

Starting a Video Business: Creating


a Business Plan
Whether you plan on being a solo act, or
youre going into business with partners, having a solid business plan will give you the best
chance of success.
www.videomaker.com/r/020

Some people go a bit beyond the norm and create


something that pretty much
redefines a genre. Jeff Frosts
ambitious Kickstarter-funded
project, Circle of Abstract
Ritual, is a time-lapse art
piece of epic proportion.
videomaker.com/r/022
Find us on Facebook

You have questions.


We have answers.
Send your video-related questions to us on
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or via editor@
videomaker.com and watch our weekly
responses at youtube.com/videomaker.

facebook.com/VideomakerOnline

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Talk to us online!
Love Videomaker? Tell the world! Share your videos, find extra content, talk to us! We want to know who you are.

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The only question is if its from


looks or performance.

Put Your Best


Foot Forward

Must-See Time-lapse
Video

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YOUR JAW WILL DROP.

With Thunderbolt 2 performance, these hard drives deliver extreme speed and immense capacity-equally beautiful specs designed to make 4K video editing and creative workflows run smoothly.
See them in all their glory at g-technology.com
*Shipping late 2014
Thunderbolt and the Thunderbolt logo are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and other countries.
Designed by G-Technology in California. G-SPEED, G-Technology and the G-Technology logo are registered trademarks of HGST, Inc. and its affiliates in the U.S. and other countries.
2014 G-Technology, a division of HGST, Inc. All rights reserved. R0 09/14

V IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

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NEW GEAR

b y Ru ss F a ir le y

Gear for the Power-Thirsty


Dell Announces New Precision Tower and Rack Workstations
Dell recently announced the arrival of new members of the
Precision series of workstations. Three new tower models
the 5810, 7810 and top-of-the-line 7910 as well as a rack
version of the 7910 landed in power-hungry production
offices as of September 9, 2014.
The new workstations have been updated across the board.
They are all powered by the latest Intel Xeon processors, up
to a terabyte of DDR4 memory, and top-level NVIDIA Quadro
and AMD FirePro graphic card options.
Also adding to the performance boost is the inclusion
of Thunderbolt 2 technology, which supports data transfer
speeds of up to 20Gb/s while allowing for simultaneous 4K
video file transfers.
Dell has also included the latest version of their innovative
Dell Precision Optimizer v2.0 (DPO) software. DPO runs in
the background and optimizes system settings, based on the
applications which are running. Playing around in After Ef-

fects? DPO will fiddle with system settings to get your


particle systems humming. Dell claims that industry standard
benchmark tests have proven that DPO increases application
performance by up to 121 percent.
Since the v2.0 update, Dell Precision Optimizer is now
optimized for Autodesk 3ds Max and Inventor, Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Media
Encoder), Autodesk (AutoCAD, Maya), Dassault Systmes
(CATIA, Solidworks), PTC Creo, and Siemens NX.

Sony Rolling out Alpha 5100 Mirrorless Camera with Pro XAVC Video Codec
With all of the buzz flying around the video industry about
the Sony a7S, another impressive mirrorless Sony cam
the Alpha 5100 (a5100) nearly flew under the
radar. The NEX-5Ts heir apparent brings some similar
technology and some new features to the table in a nice,
affordable package.
Similar to the NEX-5T, it replaces are a 24.3MP APS-C
ExmorCMOS sensor and BIONZ Ximage processor. The
big news for video enthusiasts is the inclusion of Sonys

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professional grade video codec, XAVC. XAVC is Sonys Ultra


High Definition codec; one designed to squeeze everything
possible out of MPEG4/H.264, including frame sizes up to
4K and frame rates up to 120 fps. The a5100 is capable of
shooting 1080p at 60, 30 and 24 frames per second using the
XAVC S codec, and there are additional shooting and format
options as well.
In other awesome video news, the Alpha 5100 also supports
uncompressed 8-bit 4:2:2 output via the HDMI output.
Theres more to the Alpha 5100 than just a sweet sensor
and cool video codecs. For those dark and stormy nights, the
Alpha 5100 is more sensitive than someone who just watched
"Les Misrables," capable up to ISO 25,600. Toss in manual
focus peaking, zebra, and wi-fi with NFC connectivity, and
the Alpha 5100 is a very capable addition to Sonys alreadystocked stable of mirrorless cameras.
Pricing for the Alpha 5100 will be around $550 for the body
only, or $700 with the 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens.

print

Lenses and accessories shown are not included

Introducing the worlds smallest and toughest


PL mount Super 35 digital film camera!
Now you can shoot Ultra HD TV or 4K feature films virtually anywhere with
the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K! You get a large Super 35 size imaging
sensor with global shutter, professional PL or EF lens mount, high quality
visually lossless Cinema DNG RAW and ProRes recording with the built in
SSD recorder, and an easy to use touchscreen for entering metadata, setting
camera options, and checking focus. Imagine shooting cinematic, feature
film quality video with the worlds most portable 4K digital film camera!

Portable Rugged Design


Precision engineered for quality and durability in an incredible
size! You get a beautifully crafted design featuring a machined
aluminum chassis, professional broadcast connections, internal
battery and high resolution LCD display. Now you can shoot native 4K video with
a professional digital film camera thats small enough to hold in your hand!
Workflow/Compatibility

Super 35 Sensor
The large Super 35 size sensor gives you 12 stops of dynamic
range for beautiful, film like images. The cameras PL or EF
compatible mount combined with the sensors minimal crop
factor means you get familiar framing, great depth of field, and beautiful wide
angle shots from the lenses you already own! And because the sensor features
a global shutter, youll get perfectly smooth pans and camera moves every time!

The Blackmagic Production Camera 4K includes a built in SSD


recorder that saves industry standard ProRes and compressed
CinemaDNG RAW files. That means you dont have to convert
files to start working on your video. Simply connect the SSD to your computer
and edit or color correct your shots in applications like Final Cut Pro X and
DaVinci Resolve 11 straight from the disk!

Ultra HD 4K
The future of broadcast television and Digital Cinema is 4K!
With its massive 3840 x 2160 pixel image, Ultra HD is 4
times the size of 1080HD and matches the resolution of traditional 35mm film..
The Blackmagic Production Camera 4K lets you shoot the most amazing
high resolution music videos, episodic television programs, commercials,
documentaries, and more!

www.blackmagicdesign.com

Blackmagic Production Camera 4K PL

2,995

Includes DaVinci Resolve Software

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V IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

REVIEWS

REVIEWS

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4

Panasonic
LUMIX DMC-GH4
MILC

TECH SPECS

Sensor Size/Type: MOS, 17.3x13.0


mm
Effective Megapixels: 16.05 Megapixel
Video Format: MOV, MP4, MPEG-4
AVCHD
Resolution/Frame Rate:
4096x2160p (24fps)
3840x2160p (24fps, 25fps, 30fps)
1920x1080p (24fps, 25fps, 30fps,
50fps, 60fps)
640x480p / (25fps, 30fps)

Compact 4K

b y C h ris M onl ux

ith so many different camera


options out there, manufacturers are getting resourceful in their fight
for your camera dollar. The Panasonic
DMC-GH4 is one heck of a camera and
its sure to capture a wallet or two. Its
a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera (MILC) and its claim to fame: 4K!
With an impressive range of recording
options and fast data rates, the resolution isnt the only thing that makes this
camera commendable. And lets not
forget that its also capable of shooting

Panasonic USA
www.Panasonic.com
STRENGTHS

Many Frame Rate Options


Flip out Screen
Fast Focus
Several Resolution Options
Bitrates up to 200Mbps
WEAKNESSES

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Lots of Noise at ISO 800 in 4K


Cropped Sensor
Audio Input/ Pre-Amp Could be stronger

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$1,700

stills, coming in at 16MP with fast 49


point auto focus. While shooting 4K is
certainly its key stand out feature, there
is so much, much more packed into
this small form factor.

Look, Feel, Attitude


The GH4 looks just like the GH3.
Other than the name on the body,
youd be hard pressed to find many
differences. Just like the GH3, it has a
great feel and is easily operated. The
weight distribution and its comfortable grip make shooting handheld a
breeze, and it feels stable and natural
when you hold it. The bodys front
and rear frame are made of die-cast
magnesium alloy. It feels really stout
and ready for professional use on a
daily basis. Its weather sealed and its
shutter is rated at 200,000 releases.
With a camera this size you
would have guessed it there are a
few drawbacks. It lacks quality audio
inputs and has weak audio meters and
video output capabilities. However,
with the LUMIX DMW-YAGH grip,
Panasonic addressed these issues,
making the GH4 something to be reckoned with. The grip integrates well
with the camera, and offers HD-SDI
BNC output, 2 XLR audio inputs and
easy-to-read audio meters. The GH4
V IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

with the grip challenges full blown


4k professional cameras with much
higher price tags. Although the grip
comes with a larger price tag than
the body itself, together, at a price of
MSRP $3,699.98, the I/O capabilities
rival cameras twice its price.
The GH4 has loads of resolution
options including DCI 4K (4096x2160)
for a 17:9 cinema aspect ratio, UHD
(3840x2160 ) for 16:9 4K television
and of course 1920x1080 all the way
down to 640x480 for standard definition. One important note is that 60
frames per second is supported up to
1920x1080 for frame accurate slow
motion in post. The Digital Live MOS
sensor has a fast signal speed which is
tech speak for reduced rolling shutter. This is a huge plus if you shoot
a lot of fast moving subjects. To the
delight of editors everywhere, it also
offers four different video formats:
MOV, MP4, MPEG-4 and AVCHD. In
addition, theres a huge array of frame
rates. In MOV/FHD/100 mode it offers
2fps, 12fps, 20fps, 22fps, 24fps, 26fps,
28fps, 36fps, 48fps, 60fps, 72fps, 84fps,
96fps. Another standout feature is bit
rate options that go up to 200Mbps,
which gives a lot of room to pack detail
into your shots. Couple that with the
flexibility to choose from so many dif-

ferent video formats, frame rates and a


slew of resolutions, its hard to believe
it comes up costing less than $1,700.
Its amazing how many DSLRs have
fixed rear mounted viewfinders; the
GH4s flip out monitor gives it a huge
advantage over others in its class.
When youre shooting, its always a
bummer to have to contort your body
just to monitor the shot because of
glare off the viewfinder. With the abilSlim body with a deep grip

Recording Media: SD, SDHC, SDXC


Display Size/Resolution: 3" Touchscreen Swivel OLED (1,036,000)
Lens Mount: Micro Four Thirds
Included Lens: N/A
Audio In: 1/8"
Audio Out: 1/8" Headphone, AV
Video Out: HDMI D, AV
Shutter Range: 60 - 1/8000
ISO Range: 200-25,600 (Extended
Mode: 100-25,600)
Battery: 7.2VDC, 1860mAh

ity to flip and tilt the 3 inch rear LCD


monitor, the shooter is able to find a
comfortable viewing angle no matter
what the situation. Taking it one step
further, Panasonic made the rear viewfinder with a touch screen interface.
This along with other intuitive button
locations makes the GH4 a truly fun
camera to operate. The live viewfinder,
or LVF, has a contrast ratio of 10,000:1.
Plus, switching between the two viewfinders is simple it
does it automatically
with its eye sensor.
There are many updates with this camera, but just like with
the GH3, the GH4
offers Wi-Fi connectivity. Integrating NFC
for Wi-Fi connectivity
allows you to control
remote photo and
video shooting with
the Panasonic Image
App. It will also embed location information to your photos
after theyre taken;
now that's some cool
metadata!
As an editor, the
GH4 causes you to
VI D EO MA K ER >>> N O VEMBER 20 14

shoot differently, and on the other


side of the coin, as a shooter it causes
you to edit differently. Adding photo
styles used to be something considered during post, but with the built
in picture profiles, you can have
creative control in the camera that allows changing saturation, sharpness,
noise reduction and hue. The GH4
also offers pre-made styles: standard,
natural, vivid, monochrome, portrait,
scenery and one for your own custom settings.
One of the big things that stood out
to us was that a few photo options
that the GH4 offers are now weaker
than its predecessor. Now instead of
shooting 16.2 megapixels, it shoots
16.1MP. Its forgivable, since the
video options have been improved so
greatly, a little give makes sense. After
all, who wouldnt lose a few features
to be able to shoot in 4K? You also
lose image stabilization, however if
you have a lens with IS, then it's not
an issue. Lastly, although not directly
a photo option, the GH4 comes in
slightly heavier than the GH3 by 10g,
weighing 560g.
Many new cameras now offer improved focus control. Going with that
trend, Panasonic is now offering 49
focus points over the 23 on the GH3.
With better focusing comes faster
focusing with high speed autofocus.
Dubbed high-precision, The GH4's
Contrast Autofocus integrates DFD, or
Depth from Defocus, technology, allowing bursts of 12 frames per second
in AFS mode. 12fps is a huge increase
from the GH3, where its best was only
6fps. But more pictures faster means
your battery wont last as long. Touting 500 pictures per battery, take too
many pictures too fast, and youll be
scrambling to find a wall outlet.
Shutter, ISO and dynamic range
have all been upgraded as well. With
a maximum shutter of 1/8000s and
minimum of 60s the GH4 doubled the
max of the GH3. The ISO sensitivity
however has suffered with a max of

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REVIEWS
Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4

6,400 ISO over the 12,800 ISO from


its predecessor. Unless youre talking
about extended mode where the range
is ISO 100-25600.

4K: How well does it run the


race?

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When putting the camera through the


paces, one would expect a little learning curve. However, with an intuitive
menu, button layout and overall feel,
it was a cinch to get great looking video on the first attempt. The viewfinder
was easy to see and maneuver. For
this review the Panasonic Lumix G X
Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 Asph was used.
The first test was just shooting 4K in
natural light no supplemental lighting to see what it could do. We shot
a child watching his morning cartoons
in a room with a few windows. The
picture was sharp; however, at ISO 800
there was more image noise than we
would wish for. This is a bit concerning
because when shooting at ISO 800 on
similarly priced cameras (such as the
Canon 7D), noise isnt introduced until
ISO 1600 and above. Once we properly
lit the scene, the noise wasnt an issue.
The 4K is such a cool feature to use,
but whats the catch? The GH4 shoots
super whites, meaning the highlights
go to 110 IRE instead of 100, which is
an inconvenience that may result in
clipped bright spots in your video. The
Canon 5D Mark III, for example, offers
around one more stop of dynamic
range out of the box than the GH4,
and it wasnt hard to see the difference. To get the same result with the
GH4, you'll have to reduce the highlights in post.
To further test the dynamic range, we
shot the exterior of a home that had
both very bright, full sun areas and dark
areas with highnoon shadows. The exposure choice was made for the middle
areas that were neither in full shade nor
full sun. There was still plenty of information in the dark shadows, but the sky
and the roof of the home were overexposed. We also tested this by shooting a
subject inside the home, facing toward

10

Articulating LCD screen


the window with
the sun beaming
in. This is always
a tricky process
if the windows
arent tinted or
filtered and the
room doesnt have
an abundance of
natural light. There
just wasnt enough
dynamic range to
shoot the outside
in perfect exposure and not have
the inside dark or
have the inside
correctly exposed
and not have it look like heaven on the
other side of the glass.
To fight the complexity of the shot,
evening the exposure by illuminating
the inside helped a lot, but still didnt
do it completely. However one would
be hard pressed to find any camera that
did this well, as its a notoriously difficult shooting situation. Lastly, we shot
in a shaded area outside. The camera
performed brilliantly. With an abundance of diffused light, the shot came
out great. As a side note, the focus ring
on the 12-35mm f/2.8 was extremely
smooth and allowed for an easy rack focus. The focus assist came on automatically, leaving the shooter with no doubt
the scene was sharp and crisp.
Taking the 4K footage into an edit
system, it became very apparent how
nice it was to have the extra resolution at our fingertips. Shooting in MOV
mode, the video was easily imported
into Adobe Premiere CS6. Although
some formats tend to create dropped
frames in playback as it attempts
to keep up, the 4K MOV from the
GH4 previewed smooth and allowed
for a lot of flexibility. Posting in a
1920x1080 sequence, it was nice to
have the option of cropping a shot
to exclude something or allowing for
digitally zoomed in close up with no
resolution loss. This made it very easy
to create a dynamic cut without the

V IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

need for a wide, a medium and close


shot of the same subject. The footage
took color correction well, and in one
shot, adjustment of the white balance
did not affect the quality of the shot in
any way.

Finally, Some Results


For its price tag, shooting 4K, rugged
build quality, and ability to expand
using the DMW-YAGH grip interface,
the GH4 can truly be a full pro rig
for very little coin, especially if you
compare it to other cameras with
the same capability. All that and its
one killer photography camera, too.
If you, have a limited budget and its
options youre looking for, Panasonic
has you covered with its highly flexible and cost effective GH4.
SUMMARY

The GH4 is tiny, has loads of frame


rate options and shoots 4K. Panasonic outdid themselves. Dont kid
yourself, the GH4 is more than just an
MILC its a video behemoth with a
really nice still camera built-in.
Chris Monlux is the Creative Services Manager at an
NBC and CBS affiliate.
For comments, email: editor@videomaker.com, use article
#17112 in the subject line.

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REVIEWS

REVIEWS

Adobe CC Update 2014

Adobe CC
Update 2014
TECH SPECS

Up in a Cloud
b y C h ris Ac e G ates

his year, users of Adobe Creative Cloud learned more about


how Adobe is handling upgrades to
Creative Cloud applications. One of

Adobe Inc.
www.adobe.com
STRENGTHS

Tight integration of shared tasks


across applications
New tools in Premiere Pro CC to
decrease round-tripping and increase
efficiency
Kuler integration and mask effects in
After Effects CC
Upgraded user efficiencies in
SpeedGrade CC
WEAKNESSES

Response time of Dynamic Link on


older systems
No updates to 3D rendering or
integration

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Available to current Adobe CC


subscribers, new subscriptions
$50/month for a one-year subscription

12

the advantages of a Creative Cloud


subscription is that the user gains immediate access to updates as they are
rolled out. Updates are available at no
additional cost, and are released quite
frequently. The question that loomed
for many users was whether or not
there would be multiple versions of
the software. The answer is yes, there
will be versioning of the Creative
Cloud. On June 18, Adobe rolled out
the latest version of Creative Cloud,
Adobe Creative Cloud 2014. The 2014
update is filled with new tools and
workflow improvements across all of
the Creative Cloud applications.
The majority of Adobes updates
to the video apps revolve around the
use of Adobe Premiere Pro CC as the
central editing hub for the Adobe
video workflow. Adobe increased
the efficiency and reliability of the
dynamic link between Premiere Pro
and the other video applications, such
as Adobe After Effects CC and Adobe
SpeedGrade CC. New features and
increased functionality for common
tasks were added into Premiere Pro
CC to decrease the amount of roundtripping needed between Premiere
Pro and the other apps. Likewise, the
interoperability of tasks begun in PreV IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

miere Pro now carries over into other


programs, such as After Effects, to
increase the efficiency of specialized
tasks that can only be performed in a
particular program.

Premiere Pro Updates


Adobe put several new features into
Premiere Pro CC, allowing the video
editor to remain in Premiere Pro to
perform common, routine tasks that
previously had to be executed outside
of Premiere Pro. The first being new
Live Text templates from Adobe After
Effects CC projects. A Live Text template is set up in After Effects, with
designated text fields for use in Premiere Pro. A video editor can place an
After Effects composition as Live Text
template into a Premiere Pro timeline.
Then the editor can change the text
inside of Premiere Pro without having
to open the After Effects project. This
is highly beneficial for video editors
who work on productions that require
the frequent use of lower thirds and
title templates.
Another feature video editors will
find useful is the new Masking and
Tracking tools in Premiere Pro. Users
can make a selection with a mask and
have that mask track with the footage.

TESTED ON:
OS: Mac OS X 10.9.3
CPU: 2.93 GHz i7
RAM: 12 Gb 1333 MHz DDR3
Graphics / VRAM: ATI Radeon HD 5750
1024 MB
ADOBE CC 2014 SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS:
Creative Cloud desktop Apps: Microsoft Windows 7, 8 or 8.1, Mac OS X
v10.7, v10.8, or v10.9, internet connection required
FOR ADOBE AFTER EFFECTS CC AND
ADOBE PREMIERE PRO CC
Windows:
Intel Core2 Duo or AMD Phenom II processor with 64-bit support, Microsoft
Windows 7 with Service Pack 1, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1, 4 GB of RAM
(8 GB recommended), 5 GB of available
hard-disk space, Additional disk space
for disk cache (10 GB recommended),
1280 x 1080 display, OpenGL 2.0capable system, QuickTime 7.6.6 software
required for QuickTime features
Mac OS:
Multicore Intel processor with 64-bit
support, Mac OS X v10.8 or v10.9, 4 GB
of RAM (8 GB recommended), 5 GB of
available hard-disk space for installation,
Additional disk space for disk cache (10

New to the Adobe workflow is the ability to apply effects to the masked region
of the clip. This means users no longer
need to stack duplicate footage when
using masks and effects together. If a
video editor needs to perform greater
visual effects than what Premiere Pro

GB recommended), 1440 x 900 display,


OpenGL 2.0capable system, QuickTime
7.6.6 software required for QuickTime
features
FOR ADOBE SPEEDGRADE CC
Windows: Intel Core i5 or i7 processor with 64-bit support, Microsoft
Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 (64
bit), Windows 8, or Windows 8.1, 4GB of
RAM (8GB recommended), 1GB of available hard-disk space for installation,
1440x900 display required; 1920x1080
display and second professionally calibrated viewing display recommended,
OpenGL 2.0-capable system, Adobecertified GPU card with at least 1GB of
VRAM recommended),QuickTime 7.6.6
software required for QuickTime features
Mac OS:
Multicore Intel processor with 64-bit
support, Mac OS X v10.7, v10.8, or
v10.9, 4GB of RAM (8GB recommended),
1GB of available hard-disk space for
installation, 1440x900 display required;
1920x1080 display and second professionally calibrated viewing display
recommended, OpenGL 2.0-capable
system, Adobe-certified GPU card with
at least 1GB of VRAM recommended,
QuickTime 7.6.6 software required for
QuickTime features

can handle on a selected mask, the clip


and mask can be sent to After Effects
CC for more developed work.
The new Master Clip effect feature
allows the video editor to apply an
effect once to a master clip and that
effect will carry over to each instance
VI D EO MA K ER >>> N O VEMBER 20 14

of the clip in use throughout the editors timeline. Features such as this,
and the increased efficiency of the
direct link between Premiere Pro CC
and programs like SpeedGrade CC,
definitely give the video editor more
time to work on their projects as opposed to wrangling their tools.

After Effects Updates


Adobe After Effects CC 2014 received
several upgrades to improve performance and efficiency, as well as a
couple of new tools. Most notably is
the increased integration with Adobe
Premiere Pro CC. Users can now assign text layers to be Live Text fields
when imported into Premiere Pro.
Another new feature found in
Premiere Pro is one now also found in
After Effects. Users are able to assign
effects to masks on a piece of footage. In the past, users would layer up
duplicates of a single piece of footage,
create masks selecting specific regions
of the clip and then apply the effects
to only the masked layer. Now this
type of operation can be performed
on a single clip with multiple masks
and multiple effects. Moreover, a mask
generated in Premiere Pro can be
brought into After Effects for further
adjustments and additional effects
through the Premiere Pro interchange.
Visual effects artists receive some
new tools with new keying effects,
such as Key Cleaner and Advanced
Spill Suppressor. Key Cleaner helps to
fix problem areas when performing
a chroma key, especially in detailed
regions such as hair. The Advanced
Spill Suppressor works as one would
hope, removing chroma spill from a
chroma screen.
For some time, Adobe After Effects
was in need of a color swatch panel,
especially for motion graphic artists
working with type and shape layers.
After Effects CC 2014 now has that
with Kuler integration. This is accom-

13

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REVIEWS
Adobe CC Update 2014

plished through the new development


of HTML5 panels in After Effects.
Other updates include improvements to the popular Curves effects.
There is also TypeKit integration as
seen in many Adobe Creative Cloud
applications.

SpeedGrade Updates
As mentioned, Adobe SpeedGrade CC
2014 offers an improved Dynamic
Link with Adobe Premiere Pro CC.
In similar fashion, the SpeedGrade
upgrade includes the new Master Clip
effect, functioning just as it does in
Premiere Pro. This speeds the color
grading process along, especially
on long projects with multiple clips
pulled from a single master clip.
SpeedGrade also includes a new range
of SpeedLooks, preset color grading
looks which allow the editor to more
easily explore their creative options.
An important upgrade for video
editors is the enhanced video scopes,
as well as the new YUV Vectorscope.
These allow the editor to have a more
technically accurate reading of the
changes they make to footage through
the color correction process.

Performance Tests
The upgraded Adobe Creative Cloud
video applications were tested using
an older system. A 27 iMac with a
2.93GHz i7 processor, 12Gb of RAM
and running Mac OS X (10.9.3). Each
of the new features, as listed here,
were tested on various HD clips.
Everything worked as it should
without any hangups except for the
Dynamic Link between Premiere Pro
CC and After Effects CC when working with Live Text templates. The Live
Text templates feature did work and
was easy to understand, but it had a
tendency to lag whenever there was an
edit to the text. Rendering with the new
effects and features didnt create any
unexpected delays. In fact, timelines
rendered quickly as would be expected.
The Dynamic Link between Premiere
Pro CC and SpeedGrade CC was quick
and efficient. Tracking in Premiere Pro
CC was much faster and more accurate
than was expected, making it a nice efficiency for the video editor who needs
to blur out a face or color correct only
a small portion of a clip.
The new chroma key effects in After
Effects worked well in cleaning up a

Premiere Pro CC timeline

key of ProRes 422 HD footage. Traces


of loose hairs remained intact while
the green screen disappeared. The new
masking effects were easy to apply and
kept the timeline neat and orderly. The
integration with Kuler worked flawlessly and synced directly to the host
Adobe accounts Kuler profile.
SpeedGrade CC worked well with
Premiere Pro. The new Master Clips
effect allowed for a stylized look to be
applied in a couple of simple clicks,
saving lots of time.

Overall Impression
The Adobe Creative Cloud 2014 upgrade doesnt disappoint. Its a well
thought integration of the various
Adobe tools across their entire spectrum of applications. The new method
of versioning within Creative Cloud
answers many questions for users
concerned with interaction across multiple generations of workstations. The
strongest and most notable upgrades
of this release are present in Premiere
Pro CC. It appears the approach Adobe
is taking with their video apps is one
of a fully integrated suite, positioning
Premiere Pro CC as the central hub.
They continue to build upon their
base programs, Premiere Pro and After
Effects, while expanding their capabilities for specialized tasks, such as those
performed in SpeedGrade.
SUMMARY

The Adobe Creative Cloud video


applications received some significant new features, as well as
workflow improvements that are
beneficial to users of all skill levels.
The upgrades trend toward increased
efficiencies, especially for the video
editor who wears multiple hats.

contents

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contents

Chris Ace Gates is an Emmy Award-winning writer


and video producer.

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For comments, email: editor@videomaker.com, use article
#17604 in the subject line.

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14

V IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

print
2014 NewTek, Inc. All rights reserved. TriCaster and 3Play are trademarks of NewTek, Inc.

REVIEWS

REVIEWS

Kino Celeb 400

Kino Flo Celeb 400


LED Light

TECH SPECS

Input Voltage VAC: 100-240VAC,


50/60Hz, 210W,
Amperage VAC: 1.8A
Color Temperature Range: 27005500 Kelvin
Dimming Range: 100%-1%
Weight: 26lb.

Color Temperature Made Easy


b y T y A u d roni s

o be perfectly honest, this author


went into this review warning
Videomaker, You know, Ive never
been a fan of Kino. Its true. Videssence have always been my lights of
choice. Not only that, this author has
avoided an LED light panel like the
plague due to high-rate flicker causing
issues at certain frame rates. I tried. I
really, really tried not to like the Kino
Flo Celeb 400 DMX, but frankly; the
Celeb 400 is just... amazeballs!
This Kino Flo light panel generates
the equivalent to more than 1,000
watts of light, and in the tungsten

Kino Flo
www.kinoflo.com
STRENGTHS

Even light
Low power consumption
Variable color temperature
Variable dimming
WEAKNESSES

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Expensive for prosumer use


Need a heavy-duty light stand

$4,570

16

world, is known as a 1K light. But


unlike a tungsten light, you can use
it in rooms without a commercial air
conditioning system preventing the
temperature from skyrocketing and
turning your set into an Easy-Bake
Oven. You can also plug more than
two LED light panels into a single
circuit without blowing a breaker! In
reality, you could plug up to eight of
these into a single circuit, as theyre
only 1.8 Amps per fixture. Your typical tungsten 1K light is somewhere
between nine and 12 Amps.

Easy Color Temperature

ment of the color temperature on the


Celeb 400, get this, with an accuracy
down to 1K (thats Kelvin, not watts).
Theres a digital readout on the back
of the LED light panel that tells you
exactly what color temperature it is
emitting. There are also nifty preset
buttons along the back to instantly set
the light to your classic color temperature settings. But what does this really
mean? It means much easier green
screen lighting. It also means no more
white pieces of paper. Just dial in the
selected setting on your camera and
lights boom, youre white balanced.

You hear 5,600K, 3,300K whats


Soft and Beautiful
the color temperature of these lights?
No, its not a LOreal ad. Truly, this
Well, in short, the color temperature
Kino Flo light panel has a ton of
is up to you.
Rear controls and digital readout
Everything you
take into consideration when
lighting a shot is
variable with this
LED light panel.
And we dont just
mean the dimmer.
The same dial
youd use to dim
any Kino Flo light
also doubles as
a manual adjustV IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

Multipurpose dial

surface area 45-inches x 14-inches and there are zero hot or cold
spots. Perfectly even light over
that much surface means very soft
shadows with no need for umbrellas, filters or scrims. The Celeb 400
DMX does, however come with an
angled honeycomb (just in case).
The dimensions make for a perfect
studio light, but youd better have
a very strong stand in order to floor
mount it.
If you can afford the Celeb 400
DMX though, were pretty sure you
can snag a great stand or 10. The
cost of this light is exactly what

THE CELEB 400 COULD BE


THE MOST IMPORTANT PURCHASE YOU MAKE THIS YEAR.
youd expect for these features. At
just north of $4,500, investing in the
Celeb 400 DMX isnt for the faint of
heart. Think about it for a second
though. These are LED lights. That
means that bulbs last much longer,
gels wont burn up, power consumption is less no generators or hunting for multiple circuits and the
list goes on. In the end, if you have
this money anywhere in your budget,
the Celeb 400 could be the most important purchase you make this year.

What are the negatives?


Its true, nothing human-made is
perfect. So what might you find disappointing if you were to purchase
the Celeb 400? For starters, if youre
doing standard three-point lighting,
you probably wont like the $13,500
youd spend on three of these bad
boys. However, you could possibly
get away with one Celeb 400 DMX,
a reflector and a small LED backlight to achieve a similar effect. You
also may not like its need for a very
hefty stand. Although the light isnt
actually that heavy, its so large that
it can tip a stand over by leverage
alone. Its also so long that you need
a van or SUV with the seats down to
transport it.
On the price front, look for rental
options for the Celeb 400 DMX if
youre not ready to make the purchase. Theyre spectacular, and definitely worth renting at least once in
your career.
But be warned you wont want to
return it!
SUMMARY

The Kino Flo Celeb 400 DMX is


packed with features and delivers
outstanding, even light.
Ty Audronis is a high-end video professional. Hes
consulted on building multi-million dollar studios, and
studios on a beer budget alike.
For comments, email: editor@videomaker.com, use article
#17541 in the subject line.

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17

VI D EO MA K ER >>> N O VEMBER 20 14
subALERT.indd 1

9/23/2014 2:00:08 PM

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REVIEWS

Libex ALLEX S
Kit Tripod/Slider
System
Silky-Smooth
b y D a v id G . W el ton

quality tripod is one piece of video


equipment that can last a lifetime
not something you can say about a
camera or computer. The Libex ALLEX
Camera Support System is one such
quality product that will support our
cameras today and into the foreseeable future. And theres more: a slider.
A slider is a sturdy device that allows a camera to smoothly glide along
a short track, often mounted atop a
tripod. Strategic, small camera movements can have a big payoff. Todays
sophisticated audience is accustomed
to more than pan, tilt and zoom camera
moves. The slide component of the ALLEX system offers a way to make your

Libec Sales of America


libecsales.com
STRENGTHS

Professional camera movements


Sturdy, durable design
Reasonable price
WEAKNESSES

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Slider resistance control has little range


Non-adjustable tilt drag

$980

18

videography look more like the pros, at


a cost that wont break the bank.
The ALLEX system includes three
pieces: ALLEX T tripod, ALLEX H head
and ALLEX S slider. Combining these
three components produces dynamic
camera movements. Lets look at each
part more closely.

Legs of Three
The 8.4 pound (including head) ALLEX
aluminum tripod sits on three grippy
rubber feet. The 2-inch round feet
allow a generous range of swivel to
conform to uneven surface variations
like the top of a granite boulder.
Twist the rubber feet and a metal
spike appears. Keep twisting if you
wish the tripod to
Convenient, folding legs
sit on 100 percent
spikes perfect
for the fairway of
the local disc golf
course. Twist a little less if you want
a rubber foot with
just a hint of spike
in the middle.
Sturdy plastic
knobs secure the
tripod at the desired height. Two
nesting leg segV IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

ments telescope to heights of about


25-inches to 59-inches, as measured
to the shoulder of the tripod where
the legs attach. The usable height of
the tripod increases after attaching
the head.
An adjustable mid-level spreader
assists with tripod stability. A knob on
each of the three spreader elements
allows for locking throughout the adjustment range. For maximum stability,
fully extend the spreader; this is essential when using the slider.
A clever locking clamp with a
handy strap holds the legs together for
transport. The folded length is about
26-inches and fits securely in the
included padded travel bag.

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REVIEWS
Libex ALLEX S

Two-stage, twist-lock legs

TECH SPECS

TRIPOD
Material: Aluminum and plastic
Weight (head attached): 8.4lb (3.8kg)
Height (head attached): 29-inches 65-inches (736mm - 1651mm)
Ball diameter: 75mm
Leg Sections: 2 stage
HEAD
Type: Fluid
Maximum Load: 9lb (4kg)
Drag Mode: Fixed
Tilt Angle: +90 / -80
Bubble Level: Illuminated

Head and Shoulder

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Smooth the word that describes the


number one requirement of a video
camera tripod head. Smooth is what
the ALLEX H head delivers. The fluid
head weighs about 3 pounds and supports up to a 9 pound load enough
for essentially all affordable cameras
including DSLRs.
The pan and tilt movements also
lock using knobs. Unfortunately, once
unlocked, pan and tilt drag effort is
not adjustable. This is a shortcoming,
but our tests revealed that the pre-set
pan drag level permitted smooth camera movement. When tilting, the head
has a propensity to return to the level
position when unlocked. The supplied
pan handle mounts on either side
of the head. When mounted on the
left, its possible for the pan handle to
interfere with the pan and tilt knobs
an easy fix with a little adjustment
of the handle.
The head attaches to the shoulder of the tripod with the adjustable
75mm ball that allows the videographer to find a perfect level. A 3/8-inch
screw mounted at the end of a special
handle does the attachment work. An
LED illuminated bubble balance confirms when the head is plumb.
A one-button quick-release mechanism makes fast work out of mounting and removing a camera. With the

20

Attachment: 3/8-inch screw or 75mm ball


Quick Release Plate Sliding Range: +/1.6" (40mm)
Camera Plate Attachment: 1/4" screw
with alignment pin
Weight: 2.9lb (1.3kg)
SLIDER
Material: Aluminum and plastic
Weight: 4lb (1.9kg)
Tabletop Payload: 33lb (15kg)
Head Attachment Screw: 3/8"
Rail Length: 32.5" (830mm)
Sliding Range: 28" (708mm)
release button activated, simply tilt
and lift the camera for removal. The
system moves fore and aft to achieve
perfect balance for a camera that
might be front or back heavy. A locking knob secures the mechanism once
equilibrium is found.
The camera mounts to the quick
release plate with a standard 1/4-inch
screw and a spring-tensioned alignment pin. Youll need a flat-blade
screwdriver or coin to attach the plate.
An extra 3/8-inch screw stores under
the locking plate.

Smooth Sliding
The 4 pound slider offers a silky
smooth range of 28-inches. The type
of professional camera movements
possible through this relatively short
distance is nothing short of amazing.
A clever design feature allows the
slider to attach directly to the tripod
via a 3/8-inch connection, freeing the
head to mount atop the slider. Adding
a second head directly to the tripod
increases the range of movement all
the way to 100 percent vertical. A
nice touch is a mount on both ends
of the slider for monitors and other
accessories.
Once removed from the tripod, the
slider uses its adjustable legs to sit on
any relatively horizontal surface. In
this configuration, the slider can acV IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

Transfer les at
Thunderbolt 2 speeds.
TM

commodate a 33 pound camera. This


set-up would produce a dramatic effect, for example, when placed on the
road surface of a busy highway.
The slider has its own bubble level,
but ignoring it can produce interesting
results. A tilted slider can help make
an otherwise boring product shot
come alive. Simply let go of the camera and let gravity smoothly glide the
camera down the slider. The results
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or

DSLR Mirrorless

Which is the best choice for video?

With so many cameras available from so many manufacturers, purchasing your first interchangeable lens camera can be a daunting task. Your first question might be mirrorless or DSLR?
BY ODIN LINDBLOM

here is a great debate as


to which type of camera
is better for shooting
video. Lets take a look at
the differences between
mirrorless and DSLRs,
as well as some of the
other significant factors in how these
cameras perform.

Size Matters

One of the major differences between


mirrorless and DSLR cameras is size. A
DSLR has a mirror in front of the image sensor, allowing the user to look
into an optical viewfinder and through
the lens. When the shutter is released
to take a still picture, the mirror drops
momentarily exposing the image sensor. When shooting video, the mirror
remains down, and the video can be
seen on the LCD screen in the same
way ason a mirrorless camera.
Because of the mirror mechanism,
DSLRs tend to be larger and heavier
than mirrorless cameras. DSLRs, at
their smallest, weigh around a pound
and a half and can fit in a small bag.
Mirrorless cameras can weigh as little
as half a pound and can be pocketsized with a small lens. If youre
shooting on a tripod or a shoulder
rig, the difference in size can be
insignificant.

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22

V IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

VI D EO MA K ER >>> N O VEMBER 20 14

Image Sensors

While most mirrorless cameras are


smaller in size than DSLRs, they often
have smaller image sensors as well.
There are many DSLRs with full-frame
(35mm) image sensors, but the Sony
A7 series cameras are some of the
only mirrorless cameras to have image sensors of that size. The sensors
in higher-end, mirrorless cameras are
usually APS-C (a 1.5x or 1.6x crop factor from 35mm) or Micro Four Thirds
(MFT) which is half the size of 35mm
(a 2x crop factor). With a full-frame
image sensor, its easy to get video
with a shallow depth of field, but that
shallow depth of field also makes it
harder to keep the camera in focus
while your subject is moving. Its also
important to note that full-frame sensors typically have sharper images
and less noise.

DSP

The digital signal processors (DSP) in


both DSLRs and mirrorless cameras
vary widely in capabilities. A slow processor not only affects the number of
stills per second you can take with the
camera, it also affects video performance. The frame rates, resolutions
and bit rates a camera can shoot are
all affected by the cameras processor.
Just because a camera is more expen-

23

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Which is the best choice for video?

DSLRs have the broadest selection of


lenses: from macro lenses to supertelephoto, to fully manual cinema
lenses. You can find a lens for almost
any application to fit your DSLRs
mount. While the selection of lenses
for mirrorless cameras is limited, the
lenses are smaller and lighter than
comparable DSLR lenses. You can
often find adapters for DSLR lenses to
work on the smaller lens mounts of
mirrorless cameras, but these adapters
vary in quality, and some lens functions such as autofocus and iris control
(aperture control) may not work.

Viewfinder

Many mirrorless cameras lack viewfinders. Those that have them use
electronic viewfinders, or EVFs, which
can make it difficult to see detail.
Fortunately, many come with the advantage of being able to digitally zoom
from within the EVF for focus assist.
When a DSLR is in video mode, the
optical viewfinder is disabled, and the
video is viewable on the LCD screen,
much like a mirrorless camera.

Autofocus

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Until recently, DSLRs and mirrorless


cameras only had contrast detection
autofocus in video mode. Contrast
detection looks for the areas of highest
contrast in a shot and then moves the
lens until these areas are sharp. This is
what gives you that drifting in and out
of focus in videos shot with some cameras. Today many mirrorless cameras
offer faster phase detection autofocus
for video. This technology is used by
DSLRs predominantly for stills. Some
cameras use a combination of both
systems and call it hybrid autofocus.

24

Mirrorless cameras and DSLRs both


record video with varying levels of
compression. It can be hard to get
past all the technical descriptions and
figure out what specs you need to
shoot your videos in. Simply put, the
more compression used on a video file
the smaller it is, and the more likely
you are to see a loss in image quality. Compression not only affects the
image quality of your video, it also
affects the changes you can make to
it in post-production such as color
correction and chroma keying. Highly
compressed video is difficult to alter
in post.
If all you need to do is shoot videos
and upload them to the web with no
color correction or effects, then any
camera that records highly compressed video might be a good option
for you. If you need to do mild color
correction and effects to your footage
or you want a better picture quality,
then a DSLR or a mirrorless camera
that records in higher bitrates (larger
files with less compression) would
be a better choice. If you need to do

a lot of effects work and heavy color


correction or want the highest image
quality, then using a camera that can
output an uncompressed signal to an
external recorder via an HDMI or SDI
output is the path for you.
When you look at the broad range
of mirrorless and DSLR cameras,
DSLRs do tend to have lower rates of
compression when recording video.
However, some higher-end mirrorless
cameras do offer low compression recording options. The types of productions you shoot will determine what
will work best for you.

PCM vs Compressed Audio

Many DSLRs and most mirrorless


cameras record compressed audio,
often using AAC compression. Much
like compressed video, you may not
always notice a difference listening to
compressed audio, but you can start
to have problems when you try to use
noise reduction, EQ or other effects.
Even having the audio re-compressed
when its uploaded to the web can
reduce the sound quality. Recording
audio in PCM (wav) format gives you

UNDERSTANDING CAMERA SENSOR SIZES


All of the terms used for the size of digital image sensors on cameras can be overwhelming, but you need to understand image sensor sizes in order to determine what
size lens youll want to use. Sensor sizes still relate to 35mm film, and a full-frame sensor
is said to be around the same size as a 35mm film frame. Smaller sensors are identified
by their crop factor from 35mm.
The more common sizes for video are:

Full-frame (1x Crop Factor)

APS-C (1.5x - 1.6x Crop Factor)

Micro Four Thirds or MFT (2x Crop Factor)

Nikon CX (2.7x Crop Factor)

2/3 inch (4x Crop Factor)
While the crop factors seem odd at first, it becomes useful when you try to figure the
effective focal length of a lens matched with a sensor. A 50mm lens used with a MFT
sensor with a 2X crop will have an effective focal length of 100mm; that is, its equivalent to using a 100mm lens with a full-frame sensor. If youre trying to match the view
angle of a 50mm lens used with a full-frame sensor and your camera has an APS-C 1.6x
Crop Factor, than a 30mm lens will give you a 48mm equivalency, which is pretty close.
There are websites and mobile apps that have calculators for focal length. By understanding how image sensor sizes alter effective focal length, its easier to figure out the
types of shot framing youll achieve with different lenses on various cameras.

V IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

more ability to alter the audio and


retain sound quality.

Functionality and I/O

One of the main advantages to mirrorless cameras is their small size,


but this factor also limits the number
of manual controls, and input and
output ports on the camera. The
same is true for many smaller DSLRs.
Many small cameras lack video outputs, audio outputs and even microphone inputs. While most controls
are accessible through the menu,
many controls on smaller cameras,
like audio levels, are not there at all.
Recording times vary greatly
among DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. This can be due to the type of
memory card used, the formatting
of the card or the compression used
on the video. If you need long record times on a camera with a clean
(free of the cameras UI) HDMI out,
pairing with an external recorder is
a good option. Because of size, the
battery life on smaller cameras is
also often limited.

Canon 5D Mark III DSLR

Lenses

Compression

Accessories

While some camera accessories are


fairly generic, like monitors and recorders, some are model specific, like
battery grips (these attach to the bottom of the camera and tend to carry
two camera batteries when the camera can only hold one). DSLRs have a
lot more accessories available to help
you shoot video. Some of these can be
used with mirrorless cameras, but the
options are limited.
Recorder/monitor combos like the
Atomos Ninja can help you get longer
record times and also speed up your
workflow by recording to a 2.5 SSD
or a hard drive that can be plugged
straight into an editing system. These
recorders can be used with any camera
that offers clean HDMI out.
Cinema-style follow focus units can
be helpful in pulling focus or controlling your zoom. They are difficult to use
on small lenses so they may not work
well with all mirrorless camera lenses.

Sony Alpha 7 Mirrorless

sive doesnt mean the processor will


work well for video. A cameras ability
to record in higher frame rates (like
60fps) and higher bit rates (25Mbps
or more) is a better indication of the
processors ability to produce high
quality video.

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VI D EO MA K ER >>> N O VEMBER 20 14

25

Cordless
Projector?

Which is the best choice for video?


Community Support

Being able to find answers to technical questions and creative challenges


regarding your camera online can be
very helpful. There are more online
resources to be found for video production with DSLRs from technical information to stylistic ideas and
guides. There are a few mirrorless
cameras like the Panasonic GH3 and
GH4 that have large online followings,
but resources are otherwise limited.

Whats Your Style?

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Panasonic Lumix GH4 Mirrorless

Nikon D4S DSLR

Do you need a camera thats super


compact and lightweight? If so, a small,
mirrorless camera like the Nikon 1
might be right for you. Are you looking
for a camera with a full-frame sensor
thats under $2000? Canons 6D DSLR
or Sonys mirrorless Alpha a7 are great
options. Do you have to shoot and post
online ASAP? Consider the mirrorless
Samsung Galaxy NX which runs Android 4.2.2 and has built in WiFi and 4G.
Do you want an affordable camera with
a huge variety of lenses and accessories? The Canon Rebel T5i DSLR should
be toward the top of your list.
Many of the newer models of
mirrorless and DSLR cameras share
similar features, making the difference
between these two types of cameras
minimal. Besides the mirror, the biggest difference is weight and size. On a
tripod that doesnt mean much. With
the camera handheld, more weight
and a larger body can make the camera easier to keep steady.
Focus on the features that are
important to you, rather than making your camera decision based on
mirrorless or DSLR. Think about what
youll be shooting and the environment youll be working in. Finding a
camera that has the right features for
the types of shoots you do is the first
step in selecting the best gear.

26

Odin Lindblom is an award-winning filmmaker who also


shoots commercial and corporate video.
For comments, email: editor@videomaker.com, use article
#17139 in the subject line.

V IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

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Visit ompt.org/cordlessprojectors to learn more.

How to Decide

What Lens To Use


Zoom in; zoom out; telephoto; wide. Which lens do you use and what feeling does that lens give to your viewer?

sing a long lens and using a


short lens convey two completely different emotions.
Once you understand what emotions
each lens gives off, you will be better prepared and more confident in
which lens to use and under what circumstance. Ive learned a lot of these
techniques from my film teacher, film
director Gary Sherman, and his class
Directing for Camera. Also, another
good resource is Hollywood Camera
Works. Now lets dive in.
In order to to understand why you
should choose a certain lens, we must
first know what our options are.

Zoom and Prime Lenses

There are two types of lenses, zoom


and fixed, also known as prime. Most
are familiar with zoom lenses; when
you press the zoom rocker marked t
on your traditional camcorder, you

zoom in, and when you press the w


you zoom out. With prime lenses, you
stay at one spot. You can not zoom in
or out.
The length of the lens is measured
in millimeters. For a zoom lens, you
may have the ability to go from, lets
say, 25mm by pressing the w as far
as it can go, to 200mm by pressing the
t as far as it can go. Different zoom
lenses have different ratios. With
prime lenses, again, they are set.
For this example, were going to use
three types of prime lenses, 25mm
(wide), 50mm and 85mm (telephoto
or long). So when you zoom out,
youre moving closer to the 25mm
end of focal-length, getting wider
while the lens is getting shorter, which
means we can see more. When you
zoom in, the lens is getting longer, the
field of view is narrowing and you can
see less.

BY JR STRICKLAND

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28

V IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

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29

How to Decide What Lens to Use


For now, well focus on when to use a wide,
middle and telephoto. Whether youre on a
prime lens or a zoom lens, the principles are
still the same, as long as you know roughly
what mm you are at and if you are on the wide
side, in the middle or on the telephoto.

50mm approximates what our eyes see.

When films are shot on 35mm, a 50mm lens


represents what our eyes see. Even if youre
shooting digital, if you have a 35mm sensor, or
adapter, keep the 50mm equals what our eyes
see as a rule of thumb. Now that we know that,
lets explore what happens when we go wider.

Why wide?

The wider we go and the more we get that


fisheye effect. We get to see more. More objects
are in focus. Also, the wider we go, the more
the image starts to distort and round off on
the sides. You may have seen that look with
a GoPro which uses an ultra wide angle lens.
Wide lenses are great for capturing a lot of the
environment. They are also good when there is
not a lot of room for a longer lens. That is why
GoPros use wide lenses.
In a narrative, wider lenses are great for giving off a surreal look because again, comparing
it to the human eye, we are wider. Our eyes
arent use to seeing that much information from
left to right without turning our heads. The
wider the lens, the more distorted the look, and

50mm

Approximates the human eye


Between wide and telephoto
Balanced depth of feild
Great for creating a sense of realism
Versatile

Wide

More objects in frame


More subjects in focus
Greater distortion
Great for surreal or environmental shots
Fits in smaller places

Telephoto

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30

Fewer objects in frame


Fewer objects in focus
Great for focusing attention
Shoot subjects from further away
Intimate shots

the more trippy and surreal that image looks. So


if youre going for the trippy feel, explore using a
wide lens.
Wider lenses also keep more subjects in focus.
That is why, when shooting establishing shots or
shots of nature where you want to include a lot
of information, wide lenses are awesome.

Why telephoto?

Lets zoom in, or move to a telephoto lens like an


85mm. Now the shot is tighter. We dont have as
much information from left to right. Weve also
dramatically decreased our depth of field, so fewer objects are in focus. In comparison to our eyes,
i.e., 50mm lens, with the 85mm we are more focused on a subject and less on the environment.
We also dont have that drastic distortion on the
edge of our frame. Everything is flatter.
The longer the lens, the more intimate the
shot. It is perfect for beauty shots such as headshots; for example, a shot of a leading lady or
alternating shots between a man and a woman
who are saying something important. With the
85mm, we feel physically closer to them, and we
want to relate with them.
For nature shots, these longer lenses are used
to show detail and focus our eye. A wide shot of a
plant gives us a lot to look at. A longer lens with
a shallow depth of field focuses our eyes on the
area thats sharp. Our eyes are drawn to whats
in focus. When everything is in focus, our eyes
wander. When a specific area is in focus, our eyes
are attracted to that area. Every time our eyes try
to wander, theyre pulled back to that area that is
in focus.

the background and you want it out of focus


but you like your framing, move the camera
back and use a longer lens or zoom in. Your
framing will stay the same, but the emotions
and the effects you desire are dependent on the
lens you choose.
Something to keep in mind, however, is that
while your framing may be the same across
lenses, the perspective of the lens changes. For
example if youre shooting a closeup with a
wide angle, the persons face will appear to have

THE EMOTIONS AND THE EFFECTS


YOU DESIRE ARE DEPENDENT ON
THE LENS YOU CHOOSE.
more depth, i.e., really big noses. On the contrary, the longer the lens, the flatter the subjects
face will appear. Again, to approximate the human eye, and therefore achieve a more realistic
looking shot, stick with the mid, or 50mm.

V IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

When looking at your favorite photographs or


while watching a movie or a video, try to guess.
Little distorted on the sides? How much is in
focus? Do you think the camera is far away or
close up? Is the image flat?
Think of what emotions these images give
you. Youll start to see a pattern. Youll also
notice why some images dont work. You may
notice that the intent was to create an intimate
feeling but the lens choice may have worked
against it. You may not know the exact length
of the lens, but just guessing wide, medium and
long should do the trick.
Now that you understand which lens does
what, apply it to your shoot and create the
emotions and mood that you want your
viewer to feel through the art of choosing the
right lens.
JR Strickland is an award-winning director, filmmaker and musician. He
specializes in strong, narrative storytelling.
For comments, email: editor@videomaker.com, use article #15214 in the
subject line.

Your data is the most critical


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Our mission is to support
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Review

The general rule of thumb is this: If we want to


draw specific attention to something or create a
more intimate shot, we go with a longer lens or
telephoto. If we want to show off more of the environment, give the viewer more breathing room,
and let the eyes wander more, we go with a wider
lens. And if we want to recreate exactly what the
human eye sees, we stick with the 50mm.
Now, your framing may be the same when
using different lenses, but the effect and mood
will be the different depending on the lens. For
instance, a closeup is a closeup, no matter what
lens you use. If its a person, youre still framing
mainly the head. If you use a wide lens, you will
have to move the camera closer to the subject to
keep just the head in frame. The longer the lens,
the further you would have to move back to
keep the head in frame. So with a headshot or a
beauty shot, youre focusing on the face, not the
background. If youre getting too much detail in

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31

Reasons Why
a Tripod is Your
Most Important
Purchase

The versatility of tripods is incredible.

Other than your camera, a tripod is the only piece of equipment you own that will go to
every shoot. Despite all the talk of the latest 3-axis gimbals or drones, you should never
underestimate the importance of having a great tripod.

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BY DAVID G. WELTON

32

onsider this scenario.


A proud parent stands
on a chair in the back
of the school auditorium. At full zoom,
he valiantly tries to
capture a 45-minute dance recital. As
fatigue spreads to fingers, hand, arm
and shoulder the video starts looking
like San Francisco earthquake footage
not good.
V IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

The solution is a tripod. Tripods


were conceived when cameras were
roughly the size and weight of a small
refrigerator. No human could hoist
one of these cinematic dinosaurs onto
a shoulder. Today, cameras are so
small that they can fit into a wristwatch. Have tripods become obsolete?
Absolutely not.
In this article, well endeavor to convince you that the stabilizing power

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33

Reasons Why a Tripod is Your Most Important Purchase

of these three-legged creatures easily overshadows the minimal effort required in hauling one
around. Well meet five videographers challenged by very different filmmaking scenarios
where a tripod becomes their best friend.

Heads Above the Rest

Lets explore the dance recital scenario described at the beginning of the article. The
biggest challenge to overcome is distance the
space between the camera and the stage. A tight
shot is necessary in order to see the expression
on a young dancers face. To get a tight shot
from the back of an auditorium, the magnifying
magic of a zoom lens is necessary.
At high zoom settings, the lens will accentuate even the tiniest twitch and bob. No human
can hold a camera steady for an extended time
even with image stabilization technology.
Solution: Use a tripod with a good quality head.
The head is the single most important
mechanism on a tripod. It must offer silky
smooth video camera movement anything
less is intolerable. Tripod heads designed for
still cameras are typically not smooth enough
for video use.
A good tripod head offers dependably consistent resistance to movement. That movement
can take the form of a pan (side-to-side movement) or tilt (up and down movement). The
steady resistance allows the operator to execute
controlled movements like smoothly following
The fluid drag
on a video tripod head, like
this Manfrotto
502, is what
separates
video from
photo tripods.

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34

a child pirouette across the stage. Control knobs


located on the head adjust pan and tilt drag or
allow the head to lock completely.
The smoothest tripod head uses an oil-type
fluid to dampen and control camera movement.
Ball-and-socket and other friction type heads
dont typically offer acceptably smooth camera
movements. Four manufacturers of fluid heads
are Manfrotto, Sachtler, Miller and Libec you
can even buy legs and heads separately to get just
the right combination for the size and weight of
your camera.

Breathing Life into Old Photos

The next scenario involves a woman with a box of


old photos. Only her 94-year-old aunt can identify
the people and places. Time to get busy capturing
some family history. Why not convert that unruly
box of images into a folder of digital files.
You dont need to send your photos off to a
pricey service that digitizes images. You dont
even need a scanner although that could get
the job done. All you need is a decent digital camera and a tripod.
First, find a way to securely hold the photos
in a vertical position. The perfect solution is a
music stand or easel, but with a little improvising, you can turn a clipboard resting against a
wall into just what you need. Even magnets on
the fridge will hold photos still.
The magic begins once the images are stationary. Use the cameras pan, tilt and zoom features
to bring movement and interest to a still photograph. A good tripod makes it possible.
For example, a tripod can help animate a
historic still photo of a childs birthday party.
First, establish the scene by showing the entire
image. Next, zoom in and begin smoothly panning across the guests faces. Finally, slowly zoom
into the glowing candles on the cake. The scene
comes alive. Dont attempt this sans tripod you
wont be happy with the result.
In order to achieve professional results with
historic images, a level tripod is necessary. Some
tripods feature a bubble-type balance allowing
filmmakers to achieve a plumb tripod by telescoping individual legs up or down. A locking
device secures the telescoping legs in position
typically a ring that tightens or a lever that snaps
into a locked position.
Another leveling solution is a cellphone app.
Built into iOS 7 for iPhone is a leveling feature
in the Compass app. Also available are free
leveling apps for other iPhones and the Android
operating system.

V IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

Rock Climbing Challenge

Lets follow the adventure of a young filmmaker


setting out to document the sport of rock climbing. With little budget, the filmmaker elects to
use his iPhone 5 camera. Is this camera choice a
fatal mistake? No. An iPhone captures HD quality
1080p video. But can you attach an iPhone to a
tripod? Yes.
There are multitudes of universal and model
specific accessories that make mounting cell
phones and tablets to tripods a snap. Our young
filmmaker could also add an accessory lens to
the iPhone to bring the action closer.
Theres nothing level about the surface of
granite boulders, the location where the young
filmmaker sets up his tripod. Fortunately, he
packed a tripod with a bubble-type balance that
will allow him to achieve a level tripod by telescoping individual legs.
But what if two legs are on rock and the third
is on dirt? No problem. Many tripods have feet
that transform between a spike and a rubber
pad. The retractable metal spikes are particularly

Most tripods
have a bubblelevel, but due
to positioning,
visibility can
be an issue.
In the case of
this Miller Air
head, thats
not the case.

useful on grass or dirt surfaces where they bite


into the terrain.
For stability, a tripod has three legs. This
configuration creates a stable triangular de-

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VI D EO MA K ER >>> N O VEMBER 20 14

35

Reasons Why a Tripod is Your Most Important Purchase

sign. The geometry was even steady enough


for an unfortunate dog named Tripod owned
by famous American photographer Edward
Steichen (1879-1973). The scrappy Beagle was
missing a leg.
Rock climbers use aluminum for the same
reason videographers do. The aluminum carabiner is an essential fastening device used in
rock climbing. The strongest ones, made from
high-grade aluminum, can safely support a small
car yet weigh only a few ounces. Aluminum affords the same lightweight strength, safety and
durability for tripods.
Strong as it is, make sure all controls are
locked before walking away from a tripod. With
legs fully extended, especially in windy situations, anchor a tripod with a sandbag or other
weight. Better yet, in adverse conditions, dont
leave a precious camera unattended.

Hello Dolly

We meet our next filmmaker as she prepares


to shoot a scene for an episode of her YouTube
web series. The scene calls for a tracking shot
that follows the star walking from kitchen to
living room. The script demands a rock steady
shot, so letting her DSLR camera go handheld is
not an option.
One solution is a dolly a wheel and support system attached to the foot of each tripod
leg. If the kitchen and living room share, for
instance, the same smooth wood laminate
flooring, the dolly will roll smoothly across the
floor, giving the filmmaker the desired steady
shot. Dolly manufacturers include Manfrotto,
Sachtler, Miller and Libec.

Being able to
remove the
tripods head
means you can
attach sliders
or other
advanced
support
systems.

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36

Before pressing the record button, make sure


all three wheels are pointed in the desired direction of travel. For best results set the camera lens
to wide angle to lessen the intensity of bumps
and jiggles.
What if the living room has deep plush carpet?
The dollys wheels would certainly thump when
making the transition from wood to carpet. The
solution is to place the tripod on a specially designed track similar to a roller coaster. This system offers a fluid solution to following the action
over varied surfaces. Tracking rails can get pricey,
but the resulting silky-smooth camera movement
may be worth the cost. One source for tracking
rails is Libec.

The Product Shot

Our final videographers task is to shoot a video


commercial for a new yo-yo. The client wants
movement and excitement in a shot of a yo-yo
sitting on a table. Sounds like a challenge! The
excitement-generating solution is a slider.
The slider is an accessory that attaches to
a sturdy tripod and allows a video camera to
smoothly slide along a short track. The setup can
even be used between two tripods. The slider
offers just enough camera movement to result in
an engaging yo-yo image destined to catch the
eye of the audience. Libec is one company that
manufactures sliders.
A round knurled ring attached to a bolt typically secures the slider, or a camera, to the tripod head. Some tripods include a quick release
mechanism allowing for easy attachments. A
plate attaches via the threaded tripod socket
and mates with a locking mechanism on the
tripod head.
The best quick release mechanisms offer feedback that docking is complete with a reassuring
click. If the mounting system doesnt give this
feedback, physically check the camera to ensure
its secure anything less could lead to picking
up camera pieces off the ground. Ouch.
Sure, the type of shaky handheld shots made
famous by mockumentaries like The Office and
Modern Family are popular. But, no matter what
the production, theres always a place for the
steadiness offered by a sturdy tripod. Its time to
take your dusty tripod out of the closet and let it
prove its place in your gear bag.
David G. Welton is a professor of Media Studies .
For comments, email: editor@videomaker.com, use article #17131 in the
subject line.

V IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

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Page 1

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Page22
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Canon2.91MP
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Canon
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MemoryCard
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joystick

Color
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Supports
Capturestill
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Three 1/3 Exmor CMOS sensors, with a ClearVid array


Capture uses Memory Stick PRO Duo /
SDHC Cards, with relay record
capability (optional HXR-FMU128
flash memory unit)
20x wide G series lens
HD-SDI & HDMI output, SMPTE
Time Code in/out, Dual XLR inputs
Built-in GPS system
3.2 Xtra Fine LCD

Record HD 1080/720 onto


Compact Flash cards
50Mbps MPEG-2 4:2:2 recording
3 1/3" 2.37Mp CMOS sensors
18x Canon HD L series lens
DIGIC DV III image processor
4" 1.23 Mp LCD monitor
1.55 Mp Color EVF
Over and under crank

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AG-AC130A / AG-AC160A

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contents
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THE

RAPID
EVOLUTION
OF
THE

CONSUMER
CAMCORDER
BY RUSS FAIRLEY

hink back, long before the


dawn of smartphones with
cameras, DSLRs, point-andshoots and mirrorless cameras, and
remember a time when affordable
home video production had but one
option: the noble camcorder. These
days, lots of devices can shoot video,
but unlike the aforementioned options, a camcorder is one device with
video capture as the primary function. Some camcorders might shoot
stills, others could have simple editing
features; but with a camcorder, job
number one is shooting video.
Modern camcorders have gotten
smaller, with higher resolution and
more features than ever, but they
werent always so svelte.

Rewinding

Back before we were mounting action cameras to our heads, cameras


were used primarily for feature films
and broadcast, and the home user
had few options for making their
own masterpieces.

By 1965, however, the release of


handheld Super 8 and 16mm film
cameras freed up the enthusiast
crowd to create motion pictures and
play back their results by film projector. While still a true luxury item, the
market grew relatively quickly to give
burgeoning Deakins and de Bonts
more options and formats to shoot
in, but ease of use and elegance were
lacking.
The big change came when broadcast had a need to make their outof-studio setups totally portable, and
some major manufacturers created
videocassette based systems for the
broadcasting teams. Prior to this system, broadcasters had to use remote
recording systems to capture the footage they shot.
This switch to cassette inspired the
truly portable camcorder as we now
know it. Well, bigger, uglier and clunkier, but basically as we now know it.
Betamax and VHS-based camcorders came trundling along in 1975 and
1976 respectively and quickly went to

work fighting for an audience. They


were relatively easy to use, and, if you
had a sturdy shoulder and back, quite
portable. Unfortunately, the early
camcorders were really expensive and
it took a number of years and a
plummeting entry price for them to
really catch on.
These two popular home video
formats did battle in the camera stores
as well as on the video rental shelves.
Both formats, with their large, overthe-shoulder design could produce
nice stable footage. Eventually VHS
won the war, with the format controlling 60 percent of the North American
market by 1980, and Betamax faded
out over the course of the 80s. While
the consumer format died off, Beta
still lives on in an updated broadcast
version called Betacam.
The videocassette format progressed, mostly becoming smaller
with more storage, evolving into the
form of Hi 8, Mini DVD and ultimately
in a variety of formats for the DV
video standard.

In stark contrast to the giant VHS-cassette based cameras of the 1980s,


todays camcorders are sleek, feature-filled and some are being suction
cupped to jet skis as this very moment.

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40

V IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

VI D EO MA K ER >>> N O VEMBER 20 14

41

800-323-2325
THE RAPID EVOLUTION OF
THE CONSUMER CAMCORDER
Whats DV?

DV, or Digital Video, is a standard


introduced by a cooperating conglomerate of the worlds leading video recording companies to help reduce the
growing variations in digital formats.
The DV format specifies a number of
features to be standardized for digital
video recorders.

resolution comes a few challenges, including the need for more storage, and
cheaper storage. Today, camcorders
rely on digital storage using memory
cards and solid state drives to hold the
large footage being shot. This shift to
readily available and inexpensive storage has lowered the cost and simplified the workflow of modern cameras.

Resolution Revolution

Going Pro at Home

During the 1990s and early 2000s,


the camcorder industry also underwent the major shift from standard
definition to high definition. Standard
definition, which in North America
refers to footage with 480 or fewer
pixels in horizontal resolution, began
to give way to interlaced footage 1080
pixels in width or progressive footage at 720 pixels in width. Storage
methods, pixel aspect ratios and
consistency across camera standards
varied widely, but the trend continued
to be toward bigger, better footage and
high-end specs trickling down to the
consumer level.
Today we see the shift to higher resolution continuing with mainstream
consumer cameras shooting up to 4K,
which is, depending on the standard,
either just less than or greater than
4,000 pixels in horizontal resolution.
Camcorders have certainly come
a long way from the old film and
cassette cameras. Along with higher

A great example of the evolution of


camcorders is the GoPro Hero series
cameras. From their initial release
in the early 2000s, each iteration of
the GoPro Hero camera has had the
ability to shoot multiple frame sizes at
different frame rates with a fixed wide
angle lens onto a cheap memory card.
Their exo-skeletal cases come in waterproof varieties, and as they evolve
the frame rates get faster and faster, at
larger resolutions. The current generation GoPro Hero3+ can shoot 4K footage at 15 frames per second, 1080p at
60 frames per second and 720p at 120
frames per second. It also shoots less
conventional frame sizes and rates
such as 2.7K at 30 frames per second,
1440p at 48 frames per second, and
960p at 100 frames per second. With
the ability to choose how wide the
field of vision is, a port to plug in a
professional microphone, waterproof
cases, being small enough to toss into
a pocket and nearly-infinite mounting

options, the GoPro succinctly showcases the evolution of todays consumer camcorder.
All of the cool factors going into
the Hero over the years have made
them wildly popular, and the action
camera market has seen explosive
growth as a result. This past March,
the company went public and has a
current valuation in the neighborhood of 3 billion dollars.

Fixed-Lens Cameras

GoPro isnt the only game in town for


camcorders. All of the usual suspects
(Sony, Canon, JVC, Panasonic) are still
creating incredibly capable cameras
for the consumer market. Powerful
optical and digital zooming, vibrant
color touchscreens, larger bodies
housing great image stabilization
and autofocus systems and space for
external controls make traditional
camcorders an excellent choice for
many shooters.
These consumer camcorders are
good enough for more than just home
movies, too. Motion pictures such as
Paranormal Activity, [REC] and
Cloverfield were all shot on consumer or similarly-chipped prosumer
camcorders. Additionally, hundreds
of documentaries and independent
films have been filmed on the same
camcorders sold at Best Buy locations
across the nation.
This is the magic of a camcorder.
The simplicity of a device designed
specifically to make shooting video
easy means everybody from a documentary filmmaker to an 8-year-old
child can focus entirely on what
theyre capturing.

Interchangeable-Lenses

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DSLRs and the latest wave of mirrorless cameras, while not specifically
camcorders, all take advantage of the
large photo sensor theyre packed with
to shoot video. This larger sensor can
make for some brilliant image quality. They are a good and inexpensive
option for video, though moving from
a camcorder to an interchangeable lens
camera will involve a learning curve, but
can yield some really dramatic results.

A snapshot from
Videomakers
camcorder buyers
guide from 1989.

print

42

V IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

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A complete HD multi-camera video production studio that enables anyone to
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G-DOCK ev s the hub and it ships with two 1TB removable


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THE RAPID EVOLUTION OF


THE CONSUMER CAMCORDER
Action cams, smartphones and DSLRs form
the veritable trifecta of
entry-level camcorders
today.

New cases and mounts transform smartphones and tablets into legitimate
camcorders.

Get Smart
TAKE SHOOTING WITH A CONSUMER CAMCORDER TO THE NEXT LEVEL
Consumer camcorders are great for
shooting video. Many include options
for stabilizing the picture, continuous
autofocus, automatic exposure settings, beautiful bright screens for monitoring a shot, and many other great
options. Even with all of those tools
available, there are some conditions
which can leave a camcorder wanting.
Fortunately, there are tools to complement a camcorders drawbacks and
take them to the next level. Here are a
few popular choices:
Stabilization - Wait a sec. We just
finished saying that camcorders often
have stabilization options built in.
While many image stabilizing features
help a shot tremendously, theres no
replacement for a truly stable shot.
Some options to add usability and
stability to a camcorder are tripods
and stabilizing systems. Tripods are
the standard go-to for video pros and
enthusiasts alike. They can be placed,
adjusted for height and angle, and
can provide panning and tilting shots
as well as locked off shots without any
of the shake associated with handheld shooting. Stabilizing systems can
be as simple as a hanging counterweight below a camera to smooth out
shake, or as complicated as a near
exoskeleton full-body system which
can mount lights, monitors and other
peripherals. For getting started, a
tripod or simple stabilizing system will
do the trick. Start with durable options
from Manfrotto or Sachtler and work
from there.

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44

Lighting - Cameras and action wouldnt


be the same without some lights leading
the charge. Even with growing image
sensors adding good low-light capabilities to cameras there can always be
more light or maybe better light is
the right way to put it. Some cameras
offer a small continuous light, which can
help a bit, but playing with the available
light and augmenting it if possible
can make all of the difference between
a lack-lustre shot and a fine one. Light
can add drama to a scene or shot, or it
can help illuminate a subject who might
be silhouetted by a strong light source
behind them. Lights can mean something as simple as moving lamps around
a room to better highlight the subject
of the shot. Alternatively, there are low
cost LEDs which can be mounted onto
a camera. Even cheap LEDs from the
dollar store or camping outfitter can be
placed around a room to balance lighting without taking the balance out of
your budget. Take a look at Lumahawk
for some cool on-camera options.
Microphones - While most consumer
cameras have a microphone of some
sort, its not going to cut it if the audio
of a shot is even slightly important. The
problem is that the integrated microphone is usually not terribly sensitive;
its mounted inside of a camera containing moving (and humming and buzzing)
parts, and its closer to the camera
operator than the subject of the shot.
External microphones can be positioned
closer to a subject, even on them, and
can capture high quality audio directly
from the video subject. Options include

V IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

shotgun microphones on long poles,


wired or wireless lapel or lavaliere microphones, which clip onto
shirts, lapels or nearly anything else,
and there are cardioid microphones,
which are most often hand-held by
someone on camera. Shure and
Audio-Technica offer great options to
start with.
With all of these add-ons there are
additional costs, and these cameras
are often used in shoots with no
budgets, like home movies and family
event videos. Look at what the pros
use and take note of what factors
make them good options. Weight,
light output, stability, multiple wireless
channels and a lot of other factors
make for great gear, but there are
many inexpensive options which may
not have been intended for video
originally. Work lights can take the
place of pro lights in some cases.
Music stores may have less expensive microphone options than the
local video store, and tripods come
in shapes and prices for all budgets.
Cameras can balance in a lot of
places, depending on how risk averse
the operator is.
Pro gear is usually the best, and
will typically last longer and cost less
over the long haul than replacing
cheap gear, but the goal is to get out
and shoot. If that means balancing a
camcorder on a table, using a cheap
vocal microphone and a rusty old
reading lamp, thats just fine; whatever works, works.

Current smartphones and tablets offer


the ability to shoot decent quality video
as well. Depending on the phone, features can vary widely. For example, Sonys Experia Z2 can shoot 4K video, and
Nokias high-end Lumias offer optical
image stabilization that gives prosumer
cameras a run for their money.
With various apps extending the
functionality of the smartphones
integrated camera, smartphone filmmaking is taking off as well. Devices
such as the iOgrapher take iPhones

and iPads and extend their usability


by adding mounts for lenses, microphones and tripods.

Conclusion

So do all of these types of cameras


flooding the market spell the end for
dedicated camcorders for consumers?
Cheap options like entry-level DSLRs
and options we already carry around
like our smartphones certainly mean
that casual videography might be
spread across a number of devices, but
dont count out the trusty camcorder.

GoPros are being suction-cupped to


just about anything that moves, and
handheld camcorders are still in great
use around the world.
The beauty of camcorders are that
they make shooting video fun and
easy, not clouding the experience
with fussy settings, adjusting for light
or finding focus with an interchangeable lens camera. The future for
camcorders looks pretty bright, too.
The market is still growing, particularly in the area of action cameras,
and the ability to dream up and shoot
independent creations grows right
along with it.
While there are myriad options to
choose from when it comes to consumer cameras, the risk of making a
bad choice gets smaller and smaller.
The most important part is to get a
camera and get out and shoot!
Russ Fairley owns a Toronto-based video production
company and is the host of RFShow.TV.
For comments, email: editor@videomaker.com, use article
#17178 in the subject line.

THE RIGHT PEOPLE


+ THE RIGHT GEAR
=GREAT DOCUMENTARY
Youre only as good as your equipment & crew. You might have an idea
for the best documentary ever. You might even have the talent and drive
to pull it off. But an unqualified crew or inadequate equipment can doom
your production. You can avoid this by following a few simple guidelines.
Videomakers Documentary Production: Equipment and Crew
will show you exactly what to do to ensure youre working with the right
people and gear. Segments include: Choosing a Camera, Choosing Audio
Gear, Choosing Lighting Gear, Essential Accessories, Finding Crews, and
Working with Crews.

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45

BASIC TRAINING

BASIC
BASIC TRAINING
TRAINING

NOVEMBER 2014

b y Ky l e Ca ssi d y

Ten Ways to Think Like a Pro


Apart from income and experience, what often distinguishes
professionals from amateurs isnt
technical knowledge, but how they
approach a problem.
Some of the best advice Ive ever gotten
about the artistic process was from renowned comic book illustrator Michael
Zulli who said, Learn everything about
your craft and then forget it. This
seemed a bit obtuse to me at the time,
but then it unfolded like a flower and I
realized that bit of wisdom contained
everything I needed to know about art.
One secret of a craft like making
video, or creating illustrations, is to
learn all the rules so well that they
burn into your brain and you dont
need to think about them while planning your shots. Your subconscious
makes decisions about the best light
placement so that you can spend your
time arguing with the caterers about
when the gaffers will be fed.
Amateurs spend a lot of time mired
in the details of how to operate the
camera, set the white balance, the
exposure, focus and audio levels. Professionals worry about how the framing of a shot affects the mood, what a
certain depth of field will suggest.

Keep the big picture in mind.


Technical aspects of videography
are relatively easily learned. There
are magazines, books, YouTube
videos, and instruction manuals that
come with gear. Its easy to become
distracted by these technical details
while ignoring how these details
influence to overall impact of your
story. The world is filled with extremely boring, but technically perfect videography. Youll see perfectlylit talking heads promoting products,
smiling brides standing at attention
with their words captured flawlessly
by exquisitely placed microphones,
and directors who imagine that they
have filled all the requirements for a
great video.

Professional videographers and directors


are able to focus on
the tasks that really
impact a production.

Conversely, pros view each element


of videography as one piece in the
larger puzzle of telling a story

Understand that problems and


technical issues are part of video
production.

Things go wrong; expect that they


will and plan accordingly. People will
show up late. One of your cables will
introduce a weird buzzing noise into
the soundtrack. It may rain on a day
youd planned for sun. Much of successful videography is in the pre-planning. Pros in big budget movies sometimes spend years figuring out details
before they start shooting. You dont
need to do that, but you should always
be thinking, What if THIS cable stops
working? How will I get audio? What
if THIS camera malfunctions? Is there
a backup? What if THIS lens is stolen,
can I get the coverage with another?
What if it rains today? Is there another
scene that I can shoot? Will we have
access to this location again?

Dont be shy about calling attention to issues.

contents

If your actors arent doing something


the way youd like, let them know. If a
piece of costuming is too bright under
a particular lighting setup, say some-

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46

thing. A directors job is to take the producers


money and make the best product possible. Often
times directors wear multiple hats. Its entirely
possible youll end up being the director, the
camera operator and the sound person. But all of
these roles are subordinate to that of creating the
best product possible with the finances available.
When you dont mention a poor wardrobe choice,
you hurt the final product. Your crew is looking
to you for direction, but also compassion. Saying,
This is a terrible costume choice, is different
from saying, Hold on a sec. Looking at this right
now in this light, Im noticing this pattern is a bit
too distracting. Do we have something else we
could change the talent into? Once youve identified a problem, deal with it head on. Be firm its
your show but dont be mean.

V IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

I had a producer once who I complained to


about a particular aspect of a project the
executive producers werent paying attention to

Part of a directors
job is to call attention to any issues
that arise, then
decide how to resolve
them smoothly and
quickly to stay on
schedule.

something and I thought they ought to be. He


listened to me and asked, Is this the hill you
want to die on? Because if it is, Ill bring it up
to them and well fight it, but if its not, let it go
and well save that fight for something else. It
was sage wisdom that has lived with me ever
since, in and out of video work. Choose your
battles. Its easy to get lost in the details to the
detriment of the larger project.

You're Ready
to Make a Documentary.

Now All You Need is


the Money...
Dont panic! Fundraising doesnt need to
be a chore; Videomakers Documentary
Funding DVD will
break it down for
you, so youll know
exactly where to
go, what to say,
and how to get
the funds you
need to realize
your vision.

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Learn more at: videomaker.com/funding


VI D EO MA K ER >>> N O VEMBER 20 14

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47

BASIC TRAINING

Continue to manage the crew and


talent.

When youre in the room, youre the


boss. A good director knows how tight
a rein they need to keep and on whom.
Invariably, there will be members of
your cast and crew that you know you
can trust to follow directions and create
a quality product actors who you
know will show up on set with their
lines memorized, camera operators
who can safely be sent to a second
location to come back with great footage. Youll also learn who needs more
of your management time, who gets
distracted, who spends too much time
worrying about details that dont matter, whos going to be late if you dont
have someone call and wake them up.

Keep a level head.

You need to be the calm eye of the


storm. When something goes wrong,
your cast and your crew will immediately look to you to solve the problems. While your first impulse may
be to break down and shout or cry,
remember that not only does this not
solve the problem, it erodes the faith
that your people have in you.

BASIC TRAINING

NOVEMBER 2014

Dont be afraid to admit when


youre wrong and give credit where
credit is due.
Sometime in the course of your career,
youll be adamant about something
and a member of your crew will insist
the opposite is true. You may argue
that a scene shouldnt be backlit, or
that youre positive you left the footage
with the assistant camera operator, or
that you told everybody to be on the set
at nine oclock instead of 10. Some of
these times you will discover that you
were wrong: the backlit shot is beautiful, you have the drive with yesterdays
footage in your gym bag, your email
says 10 and not nine. When this happens say, Woah, I was wrong, Sorry
everybody. The camera operator you
praise in front of the crew for coming
up with a great shot you thought was
going to be a failure is a camera operator who will continue to do their best to
help your video get made.
There are famous movie directors
that some actors say they will never
work with again. After youve won
an Oscar, you can decide whether or
not you want to be a jerk on the set of
your next movie, but until then, a rep-

utation as a difficult person to work


with wont get you anything good.

Keep a positive attitude, especially


if there are clients involved.

Nobody wants to hear that the shoot


theyre financing is a disaster, but
sometimes its news you have to bring.
A newbie directory may say, This
actor is terrible, theyre ruining this
sock commercial, A pro will look at
the same problem in a different light:
We have other resumes and were going to replace this person to make sure
we get the best performance we can.
Always explain to your clients what
youre doing, why youre doing it and
why its a good thing. If you cant
explain those things, you probably
shouldnt be doing whatever it is
youre doing. Dont be afraid that admitting you made a mistake will make
you look bad. Doggedly pretending
that you were right when everybody
knows you werent is worse.

NOVEMBER 2014

tents, the cast of 1999s Blair Witch Project


also had a note from co-directors and editors,
Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Snchez, which
stated, Your safety is our concern. Your comfort is not. They endured cold weather, damp
conditions and being terrified at night by the
filmmakers running around their campsite
making spooky noises. The film was likely better because of it. Your cast and crew are there
to make a movie; dont be afraid to make them
work. Your time should be spent solving problems, not carrying gear.

Understand that retaking shots is routine


business.

Dont be afraid to
admit if youve made
a mistake. Cast and
crew will respect
transparency.

Not everybody gets it right the first time. Its not


uncommon for directors in major Hollywood
films to have to go back and reshoot things. Days,
(or weeks, depending on whos telling the story)
into the shooting of 1976s Apocalypse Now
by Francis Ford Coopla, the director fired leading man Harvy Kitel, replaced him with Martin
Sheen, and reshot every scene Kitel had been
in. Actors arent the only reason that you might

need to reshoot. In 1962, Director John Frankenheimer was horrified to discover that the focus
was off in a shot of Frank Sinatra from The
Manchurian Candidate so he re-shot the scene,
but Sinatras performance wasnt as good. Eventually, he used the out-of-focus shot.
Kyle Cassidy is a writer and artist living in Philadelphia with his wife
and four cats.
For comments, email: editor@videomaker.com, use article #17025 in the
subject line.

Dont be afraid to make your cast


and crew work for their paychecks.
Dumped in the woods with a 32page synopsis of the story and some

KNOW WHEN TO FIX IT IN POST.


Well fix it in post, is often thought
to be the battle-cry of a sloppy movie
maker. It brings to mind a harrowed
director on a tight deadline who just
doesnt care. The microphones not
working? Well loop the audio later in
the studio. The white balance isnt set?
Well apply a filter during the editing
process. Leading man is wearing a
different shirt than he was in the last
shot? Well zoom in on the footage and
crop it tight.
Fixing things in post does a few
things. Notably, it usually makes a lot
of work for one person later and less
work for whoever is on the set at the
time. On a big set where youre paying
20 or 50 people, its amazing how fast
your money burns up and every minute
spent replacing a broken cufflink can

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48

be costing you dozens or hundreds of dollars. Making the decision to pay an editor
to work for two hours to fix something may
make sense, but very often it doesnt.
Dont get overwhelmed when things
go wrong. Before asking yourself if it can
be fixed in post, ask yourself, Can I just
skip this thing? Too often, movie makers get distracted fixing small problems
at the expense of time, when the most
expedient way to resolve the issue might
just be to skip over the thing thats not
working. Camera crew showing up in a
cast members sunglasses? Rather than
spend half an hour having a grip come up
with dulling spray or moving the cameras
to cut down on reflections, consider just
removing the sunglasses.
Before you start shooting, spend time
thinking of ways to avoid situations where

V IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

things that go wrong will create disasters. Inconveniences are unavoidable,


and careful planning will keep them
from blossoming into crushing defeats.
If, for example, theres a prop that you
cant possibly work without, make sure
you have a backup in the event that one
breaks. If youre planning on shooting
outside on a particular day, have a plan
for what youll do in the event of rain.
While youre on the set, weigh the
amount of time youd spend to fix something while everybody is there against
how long it will take to fix later. You may
not always get this right and find youve
wasted days and thousands of dollars
on something that would have taken 20
minutes on the set, but the more you
learn about the job, the better youll be
at making these critical decisions.

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49

PLANNING

PLANNING

NOVEMBER 2014

bb yy Od
Od ii nn LL ii nn dd bb ll oo mm

A Plea for Pre-Production


Pre-production is dreaded by many;
some consider it tedious, non-creative work. However, it can not only
save you money and time, but also
enhance the creative process.
In pre-production, youll review the
script, make any desired changes, select
your cast, find locations and make your
plans for production and post-production. Even if you dont have a script, you
need to figure out the message or story
that youre trying to convey to your
audience.
For a documentary-style shoot,
youll want to figure out the questions
youll ask your subjects in pre-production. These steps will help you decide
everything from the camera shots youll
want to what the audience will hear.
Pre-production is your time to plan
out your entire project. Even though
the focus of productions can differ
greatly from capturing a live event to
the telling of a fairy tale, the way in
which to best prepare for a production
doesnt differ all that much.
Youll always want to start by asking yourself the same three questions:
1) What story or message do I want
to tell the audience?
2) What style and techniques do I

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want to use to tell the story?


3) How will the audience view the
production?

Story

Its a lot less expensive to work out


the story or message of your production on paper than it is in front of
the lens. Having a strong idea of
what you want your finished piece
to be before you shoot will help you
relate that idea to everyone involved,
which becomes more necessary the
larger your team is. It will help them
and you stay focused on your goal.
There are several ways to do this:
outlines, treatments and scripts.

Even at the highest


levels in Hollywood
(including J.J.
Abrams and the cast
of Star Wars 7 to the
right), table reads
are an integral part
of the director conveying the script to
everyone involved.

Outlines

Many writers use outlines to define


the beginning, middle and end of their
stories. They may also include plot
points or story beats of major events
that will happen to their characters
throughout their production. For a
documentary-style shoot, your outline
may be as simple as a list of questions
you want to ask your documentary
subject. For an improv piece, your
outline could be just a list of scenarios
for your actors.

Treatments

Treatments can range in length from


a few paragraphs to several pages.
They tend to cover the important plot
points of your story, as well as the
characters and locations. Written in a
narrative style, a treatment reads like a
short story of your film.
For a documentary style shoot, a
treatment can help you decide the type
of footage youll need to tell your story
before you shoot. For an improv piece,
your treatment might include character
sketches that each actor will portray.

Scripts

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If youre planning to shoot anything


from an indie feature to a training

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50

V IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

video, youre going to need a script.


Even 30-second commercials have
scripts. A script isnt just about dialogue; it tells you where the action
is taking place and what it looks
like. A well-developed script is a
road map to your story.
Scripts are typically written in a
specific format that is familiar to
cast and crew. There is software
available like Final Draft or free
software like Celtx that you can use
to write and format your script.
In addition to writing and revising your script in pre-production,
you may want to consider having a
table read of your script. In a table
read, you typically have different people reading the characters
dialogues as well as a narrator who
reads the action and location descriptions. Hearing your script read
out loud is a great way to gauge if
the dialogue is working or not. If
you do your reading in front of an
audience, you can get some valuable feedback.

How You Tell The Story

There are many different tools to


help you develop the style and
techniques youll utilize to tell
your story during production.
From storyboards and shot lists,
to look books and play lists, there
are many ways to get your ideas
about how your production should
look, sound and feel across to your
crew. Even if you are a crew of one,
these techniques can help you
develop your materials as well as
keep you organized.

Storyboards

If the story youre telling relies


heavily on visual elements or if you
have complex visual effects shots,
storyboards can be a big help. Storyboards are illustrated breakdowns
of the shots of your film. They can
be as simple as line drawings placed
in comic book-like frames, although
some storyboards can be quite detailed like the oil paintings director

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51

PLANNING

Akira Kurosawa (The Seven Samurai)


created for many of his films.

Shot List

A shot list is a breakdown of every


shot youll need for your project. It
can be integrated into your script, or
it can be its own document. A shot list
can be helpful to insure that youll get
all the shots you need for the finished
piece and help you decide what order
to shoot them in.

Lookbook

For traditional film production, a lookbook is developed by the production


designer in pre-production after reading the script. The book is a collection
of images, often a mixture of photos,
paintings, illustrations and fabrics,
that show the desired style or look of
the production. This book is used as
a guide to all decisions on costumes,
props and sets. The lookbook is often
reviewed by the director in pre-production and any necessary changes
are made. Even if you dont have a
production designer, you can still put
together a lookbook.

Playlists

Playlists are not just a group of tracks


to be used as score, but a guide to how

PLANNING

NOVEMBER 2014

you want the audio of your production


to feel. Some directors use playlists to
inspire visual and thematic elements
as well. Director David Lynch (Blue
Velvet) is known for putting together
playlists for his films and even listening to tracks from them in between
takes while hes shooting.

Budget

Once you have your story and you


know how you will tell it, you can
work on your budget. Even if youre
creating a small project that youre
paying for yourself, it is important to
figure out a budget. Not only is it good
practice for when you start working
on larger projects, but it will help you
determine and track all the resources
youll need for your project. It will also
ensure that you have enough funds to
finish your project.
There are sample budgets for all
types of productions available online as well as books dedicated to
the subject. For feature films, Movie
Magic Budgeting is a popular software
tool, although you can find templates
online that work with Microsoft Excel.
You could also customize a simple
spreadsheet for a small production.
Your budget should contain all the
expenses you think youll incur on

your project from pre-production


through post. Budgets typically include a 10 percent contingency fee,
money allotted to unforeseen disasters. Again, this is important to ensure
that lack of funds wont keep you
from finishing your film.
If you have products or services that
are being donated to your production, its a good idea to figure out their
value as well. This can help you budget future productions where you may
have to pay for everything.

Scheduling

Its one of the most important


aspects of planning for any production. The more you schedule, the
less you leave to chance. Even if
its work you are going to be doing,
schedule it. This will help you prevent common mistakes like committing to doing more than is possible
in one day. If you schedule all of
your tasks for your project and track
the actual hours worked, it will help
you to create better schedules and
budgets in the future.
Productions tend to average shooting three to five pages of script per
day, but it can vary greatly depending
on the experience of your crew, the
complexity of your shots, the number
of setups, etc. The more you shoot,
the easier it will be to determine how
much you can do in a day.
If youre using multiple locations,
youll want a shooting schedule. A
shooting schedule can be created on
industry software or you can create a
schedule using a spreadsheet. For this,
youll group your shots by location
first and then by the cast involved. Its
most cost effective to shoot everything
in one location before moving on to
the next, which is why most productions are shot non-linearly.

Meetings
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Pre-production software like Adobe Story helps organize your shot list and itinerary.

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V IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

Everyone on your production should


believe that they are working on
something important. One of the
easiest ways to do this is to meet with
them before you shoot. Let them
know the focus of your production

NOVEMBER 2014

and how they can help. Take note of their ideas


and thoughts as well. You may have to schedule
many separate meetings to do this, but you will
end up with a much more focused production
and post.

Your budget doesn't


have to be pretty or
use video-specific
software. Microsoft
Excel works just fine.

Releases

Many locations require releases and permits to


shoot, even for amateur productions. Some municipalities may have the legal right to confiscate
your camera equipment until after a hearing
date if you are caught shooting without a permit.
Proper releases and permits can save your production a lot of time and trouble.
Having releases for any person appearing on
camera can keep your production from having
legal and distribution problems. While an attorney is always the best source for releases, sample
release forms can be found online. Attorney Mark
Litwak has an affordable CD-Rom of templates
called Contracts for the Film and Television
Industry that has everything you need for your
project including clearance forms for music. Unless, you are using royalty free tracks, even music
must be licensed.

The Audience Experience

If youre shooting a dance competition for a website, your audience can view your video on their
living room TV or their phone. If youre shooting

PRODUCTION INSURANCE:
DO I REALLY NEED IT?
Best practice for businesses dictates having
general casualty insurance. This is particularly
true for the videographer who is venturing into
production whether its shooting weddings or a
web series. Production insurance can protect
you from lawsuits that can arise from any unfortunate accidents on set. If you have a company,
your business policy may also cover your creative
work. If not, you may want to get a policy for your
shoot. Many locations will not allow you to shoot
without insurance.
Production insurance may or may not cover gear
rental. Most rental houses will not lease you gear
if you do not have insurance or they may require
larger deposits.
Being prepared is important for pre-production,
but its also a necessity for protecting yourself
and your business from any unforeseen accidents that can occur.

a short film to send to film festivals then your


audience will be watching your film on a movie
theater screen. Planning ahead for how your
audience will view your production will help
you with everything from how you frame your
shots to how you mix your audio. It will also
determine what formats you will need to master
to like Blu-ray, DVD or a digital file. Planning for
these deliverables in pre-production helps insure that your post-production runs on schedule
and within budget.

Conclusion

The best set is a happy set. Whether youre


leading a crew of one or 100, your disposition and outlook will affect everyone on the
production. The easiest way to ensure a calm,
cool director is through a smooth production,
and the best way to create this environment is
through the proper preparation of a thorough
pre-production.

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Odin Lindblom is an award-winning filmmaker who also shoots commercial and corporate video.

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For comments, email: editor@videomaker.com, use article #17031 in the


subject line.

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53

DIRECTING
DIRECTING

DIRECTING
DIRECTING

NOVEMBER 2014

M F T L E N S S E R I E S : CA P TU R E R EA L LIF E BEA U T Y

b y Pe t e r B i e st e r f e l d

Director:
Director: Hands
Hands Off
Off the
the Camera
Camera
Filmmaking is a team sport. Trust
your director of photography to interpret your cinematic vision and spend
your time with actors and focusing
on story.

They say youre as good as your last


job. This holds especially true for filmmaking. If youre a director and want
someone to fund your movie, the first
thing your producer-backer will ask
is, Show me your reel. And therein
lies the rub. Most fledgling filmmakers
dont have a reel... yet; at least not a
reel that contains the kind of quality
and sizzle that inspires confidence in
a prospective producer-investor.
What makes for a good reel?
Short answer: great storytelling and
great directing.
So, how do you get there?
Slightly longer answer: Start by
making short, low-budget independent films with talented cast and crew
and stick to directing.
Pull up your directors chair and
lets chat about how keeping your
hands off the camera might just make
you a better director.

Stepping it Up

Heres the deal about starting out as


a filmmaker. Whether youve been
to film school or simply attended
weekend filmmaking 101 workshops,
chances are you were all over the camera and lighting. This is as it should be.
You got up close and personal with the
craft of cinematography and the job of
the director of photography, or DP.
Now youre ready to step it up a
notch. You are serious about making a living as a serious filmmaker.
You want to make movies that get

If you cant afford,


or dont have access
to a lens finder, feel
free to use the tried
and true fingerviewfinder technique,
or use mobile apps
like Artemis HD.

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V IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

attention for riveting storytelling and


accomplished directing.
Maybe in your life after film school,
you played the lone wolf operator as
shooter, director and editor on a nobudget zombie movie or maybe even
on a paid gig or two. These are all
notches in your belt, but a reel full of
these early samplings wont get your
serious movie financed.

The lens is your eye into story.

Its no secret there are celebrated directors who cant keep from fiddling
with the lens and are actually not bad
shooters. James Cameron and Stanley
Kubrick come to mind. The latters
shooting chops went down in cinema
lore on 2001 A Space Odyssey, with
this oft-told tale: After many takes,
Kubricks camera operator couldnt
quite frame up that iconic slowmotion close-up of the animal bone
soaring high into the air after the
monkey whacks it. Move over Rover,
let Stanley take over Kubrick
nailed it on the first take. Its his shot
you see in the movie.
Cameron can be excused. Hes a tinkerer a cinema technology innovator. Kubrick came from still photography, so he knew lenses. And so should

you. The lens is the directors eye into


the scene into the story.
Depending on scene content and
purpose, you want to be sure to
mount a lens with the appropriate
characteristics. You know for example
that a fixed wide-angle lens will
produce an entirely different look and
feel from that of a zoom lens. But this
doesnt mean you rummage through
the lens case yourself to pick out your
glass and snap it onto the camera.
Conversely, when your DP suggests
a lens selection and the explanation is
riddled with technical DP-speak, you
want to be able to understand what he
or she is talking about and be confident their suggestion matches what
youre imagining.
A useful tool for setting up your shot
and communicating your cinematic
vision is to scope out every shot with a
directors viewer or viewfinder sometimes called a lens finder. This short
telescope often seen dangling from
Hollywood directors necks letsyou see
exactly what you see when you look
through the camera viewfinder. The
viewer lets you select camera formats
FullPageAD_NEWTemplate.indd 48
and aspect ratios.Some call it a lens
finder because it can also be used to select the focal length you want to shoot
with, so you can say to your DP, I want
to shoot this static, cowboy (hip height)
on a 24-mill. You can end up spending
between $200 and $700 on a decent
professional directors viewfinder. For
the budget-conscious, mobile apps like
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Trust your collaborators.

Many DPs find technically-minded


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Yes, as the director you should know
about lighting and how it can support
the story, but dont spend time futzing
over where fixtures should go. Discuss
the look or the mood of a scene with
your DP but then trust them to do the
work and interpret your vision with
fresh ideas of their own.
Know your cinematography and
your visual storytelling, but make sure
your collaborators contribute their

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VI D EO MA K ER >>> N O VEMBER 20 14

55

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DIRECTING

AUDIO

NOVEMBER 2014

by C hris M onlux
job is to make sure
that it all ends up
on the screen,
whether the scene
advances the story
with a plot turn
or signposts a
transformation in
the protagonists
character.
Reading the
screenplay should
make your imagiConsider directing your next project without ever watching a monitor.
nation soar. You
Try to free yourself of technology and focus on the actors performances. can see with your
minds eye how
you will shoot a scene and cut individspecial knowledge and experience to
ual shots together in editing, but knowmake your film the best it can be.
ing the purpose of a scene will inform
This frees you up to concentrate on
everything you do as a director.
the most important tools in directing
Looking through the viewfinder
the script and your actors. Emotion is
yourself when the camera rolls to make
everything in a film thats what audisure the framing is just so and your
ences remember. Once youve commucamera moves are perfect will take up
nicated the technical requirements of a
all of your concentration leaving little
scene, dont hang with the crew to see
room for attention to scene content.As
how they do it. Instead, go spend time
director you should be concentrating on
with your actors and with the script.
what your actors are saying and doing,
Shooting coverage is not directing. and how theyre moving. Is it working
for the scene and the story? Is it authenIf youve had any kind of production
tic? Is it believable?
training, youll be schooled in the mechanics of coverage shooting a scene
Searching for Your DP
or an action from a variety of camera
angles and shot sizes for editing purpos- So, how do you get an experienced
DP to work for you?
es. In fact, if youre a newbie director,
Short answer: Start by networking.
youll be preoccupied with coverage.
Browse online filmmaking hangouts
But shooting coverage is not directing.
to find out who is doing what; CraigDirecting is knowing your screenplay
slist.org is good for that. Go to their
and the purpose of every scene. Your

film and TV jobs board where youll


see what directors are looking for in a
DP. Mandy.com is a great comprehensive production web portal that deals
only with film, TV and video jobs.
When putting out a call for crew,
make your project irresistible and
interesting without over-hyping it. Try
to come across as someone who can
get things done as this will be just as
important to luring professionals to
your crew as your command of the
story. Explain your film, your passion
for it and your production realities,
lo-budget or no-budget, and see where
that goes. Chances are that if youve
communicated your project well and
authentically, someone with significant
cinematic chops might just want to talk
to you about DP-ing your indie film.
When the applications for DP come
in, you can easily check a cinematographers work on his or her website to
see if their work matches what youre
looking for.
Scouring the online filmmaking
discussion groups the consensus
says, when youre ready to make
filmmaking your profession, work
with a DP from the outset. Keep your
hands off the camera until the DP
asks you to check whats lined up in
the viewfinder.
Peter Biesterfeld is a seasoned script-to-screen television and video producer with specialty in documentary,
current affairs, reality television and educational production.
For comments, email: editor@videomaker.com, use article
#17042 in the subject line.

PREPARATION
As a serious indie filmmaker, the best thing you can do for
your film is to be prepared.
Read the script several times and make notes for every
scene. Write down your visual ideas and the purpose of the
scene in the overall story.
Then start making lists: make a list of actors and extras;
make a list of locations and indicate how long it will take
to shoot at that location what technical challenges might
that location present; list your props, wardrobe requirements and other production elements, such as vehicles.
A script breakdown document is useful for identifying
everything you need for every shoot and set-up. Breaking

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56

down the script is typically done by the first assistant director or the production manager, but on an indie, low-budget
project, be prepared to do a lot of this work yourself.
With production documents in-hand and an intimate
understanding of the script and its production requirements,
you have a solid foundation for bringing a worthy film to the
screen. And most important, you now have some resources
that will let you communicate effectively what you want and
need to cast and crew, especially to your DP. Filmmaking is a
team sport. Let your team play.
Take off your technicians cap, sit down in your directors
chair and focus on story, story, story.

V IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

How to Use a Mixing Board


Learn the basic workings of
a mixing board, how to set up
mics and other inputs, and
how to record into a camera or
audio device.
What do you do when you have more
mics than inputs on your camera
or audio recorder? Its simple: get a
mixing board. A mixer will allow you
to sum up all of your inputs into one
stereo pair. Most mixers allow for XLR,
inch mono, inch stereo (tip ring
sleeve) and RCA inputs. XLRs are typically microphone inputs, while are
line level inputs or instruments and
RCA can be for a whole host of inputs.
When you look at a mixer for the
first time, it can be quite daunting.
There are so many knobs and faders
that make it seem very complicated.
But once you realize that every
channel in a mixer is typically the
same as every other one on the
board, its a lot easier to understand.
Whether you have a two-channel
mixer or a 32-channel mixer, you
only need to know how to operate one channel in order to use the
entire board.
Each channel, which can be either
mono or stereo, is made up of five
sections. At the beginning of the signal
flow chain is the gain. Gain is a shield
for the incoming signal that controls
the amount of amplification boosting the signal or attenuation
reducing the signal needed to raise
or lower the signal to a normal level.
Your level is normalized when you
have a healthy sound signal coming in
that still has enough headroom, so the
loudest portions arent overmodulated. Overmodulation occurs when the
incoming signal is too loud and your
signal becomes distorted. Too much
gain equals distortion.

Next to the gain on most professional quality mixers are two buttons:
one is a bass roll off, allowing you to
roll off low frequencies being picked
up on sources that shouldnt have
low frequencies. Using this feature
prevents undesirable low frequencies
from muddying up your mix. The
second button is a pad. Pads come
in many ranges,-10db, -20db, -30db
and so on, but for the purpose of this
article, well say its -20db. Choosing
to use the pad would reduce the input
gain by 20 decibels. This will allow
you to utilize the gain knob when the
incoming signal is too hot (loud), even
when the lowest amount of gain is being applied. This may be a particularly

sensitive mic or a line level signal


coming in too hot.
The next section of a channel
strip is the equalizer, or EQ. The
EQ allows you to add or subtract a

YOU ONLY NEED TO KNOW


HOW TO OPERATE ONE
CHANNEL IN ORDER TO USE
THE ENTIRE BOARD.
given frequency. On a simple board,
its broken into high, mid and low.
Some mixing boards expand to high,
The gain knobs
control the incoming
signal to give you a
healthy sound.

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57

AUDIO

NOVEMBER 2014

EQ allows you to add


or subtract a given
frequency.

high-mid, low-mid and low frequencies. Many


beginners will make a common mistake when
using this section of the board by boosting EQ
frequencies to achieve a given sound. This is
technically incorrect. The best practice is to
use an EQ to remove troublesome frequencies,
thus allowing you to have a clearer, less muddy
sound. Its getting the result you need by subtraction, rather than addition.
Moving down the channel strip is the Auxiliary or AUX. This is where you can send the input
from the channel you are using to an outboard
piece of gear, like an effects rack. You will be
able to return the affected or wet signal to another channel, giving you control over the amount
of effect you want on the returned sound. The
effected sound is considered wet, whereas one
without any effect would be called dry.
A simple, yet easily overlooked section is
next: panning. Panning allows you to move the
sound to the left or to the right or keep it in
the center. This will allow you to play with the
stereo image. The stereo image is the perceived
spatial location of a given sound source. If you
put an input at 30 degrees left, it will sound like
the sound source is coming from 11 oclock.
Playing with the panning of each channel will
give you more space in your mix. A muddy mix
The pan knobs allow
you to make the
sounds perceivably
come from the direction of your choice.

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sometimes can be fixed by placing different


sound sources at different places in the stereo
image. If youre running three mics into a twochannel recorder, you can pan two of the mics
all the way left, and one of them all the way to
the right. This will at least give you some separation in post-production. Try to keep the most
similar mics panned the same way.
Last, but not least, is the level fader or knob.
This allows you to control the level of any given
channel that will be sent to the main mix. So if
you have an input that you would like to foreground in your final recording, you would put
the fader up to full, allowing it to be the main
thing heard in your mix.
That is the main structure of each channel in
a mixer. There are two other things you might
commonly find on a channel strip. The first is
phantom power to be used with condenser

PLAYING WITH THE PANNING WILL


GIVE YOU MORE SPACE IN YOUR
MIX.
microphones that need power to function. Many
times, this will be indicated with +48v. You
must be careful though because some microphones like ribbon mics can be destroyed with
phantom power. The second is a phase switch.
Once pushed, a phase switch allows the phase to
be changed so the signal cone is flipped to pull
instead. This is very helpful with mixing drums.
When you hit a drum, the top goes inward, and
the bottom goes outward. If you put a microphone on each side, and mix the two sounds
together, the two waves will counteract each
other and sound thin or cancel each other out.
This is known as out of phase. Choosing to press
the phase button on the mixer will flip the phase
on the bottom microphone making the sound
expand and become robust.
So now you have your first input sounding
great. The gain level is not so high as to create
distortion or overmodulation, the EQ is setup
for optimal clarity, you have panned the input to
create the best stereo image and the level is up
where you want it.

AUDIO

You wont hear anything if you dont have the


main fader or mix up. This controls the master

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58

V IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

NOVEMBER 2014

mixer. Adjust the input gain allowing


for proper headroom, then notch out
any undesirable frequencies. Repeat
this process for each sound source,
and use the faders to set the level
of each channel in your final mix.
Finally, adjust your main mix level.
Remember that just like a single
channel, your overall mix can be

Your main fader controls are your master


volume level for all import sources.

volume level from all those input


sources, and sends it out of the mixer.
This is where you control how hot
the signal is going into your recording
device. You can choose to record the
mix to a standalone audio recorder, or
into your video camera.
Monitoring your mix is crucial.
If you dont have a way to properly
monitor what you are doing, youre
FullPageAD_NEWTemplate.indd 48
throwing darts in the dark and hoping
for the best. Youll want to monitor
off the main mix. This is how it will
sound going to your recording device.
Of course, its a good idea to check
the signal from the recording device
as well, so you can hear what is actually being recorded.
Understanding signal flow is key,
and it all starts with your sound
source. Plug into a channel in the

ITS A GOOD IDEA TO CHECK


THE SIGNAL FROM THE
RECORDING DEVICE.
distorted if you crank up every input
signal to the highest level.
Everything is relative in your mix.
If you turn down every channel
fader 10 decibels, youll keep the
same relative volumes while gaining the headroom you need. The
right amount of headroom gives you
plenty of dynamic range for whatever youre recording to be quiet
and loud and not distort or overmodulate. Once youve got the right
mix, send the stereo signal out from
the mixer. Some mixers offer XLR
outputs and some have inch. Run
those cables into your camera or
recording device, and you should be
good to go. Be sure to have the correct cable adapters to get the audio
signal from the mixer to your device.
Dont be intimidated by a mixing board; its just the same thing
repeated many times over and its
an affordable option to get multiple
audio sources into your existing
recording device. Understanding the
basics of how it works can help you
accomplish more complicated tasks
and get bigger jobs. Its a great tool
that becomes easier to understand
the more you use it.
Chris Monlux is the Creative Services Manager at the
local CBS and NBC Affiliate television Station.

Levels and Output

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MARKET PLACE

Use phantom power for condenser mics.

For comments, email: editor@videomaker.com, use article


#17062 in the subject line.

VI D EO MA K ER >>> N O VEMBER 20 14

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7/21/2014 11:57:18 AM

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contents
Over 25 pages of often
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EDITING
b y Ch r is A ce Ga t e s

Organizing the Timeline

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Video editing is messy. At times it


feels like there is an insurmountable number of items to keep track
of, inside and outside of the video
editing timeline.

A video editor can feel overwhelmed


under a mountain of video clips,
music tracks, sound effects, various
compositions, graphics and multiple
deliverables. Its a different story if you
establish some standard working practices to keep organized and on top of
everything that enters your timeline.
The timeline of any video editing
program is the foundation of an edit.
Its the place where you dig your hands
in and get dirty. More often than not,
its going to be a thicket of weeds. An
organized timeline helps you work efficiently through a project. It gives you
more time to make creative decisions,
try out multiple cuts and fix production
issues that can only be fixed by a skilled
editor with time on their hands. Those
problem areas of an edit that need
fixing are much easier to see and work
through with an organized timeline.
When youre buried at eye-level
with their media in the timeline,

youre less likely to be able to pull


your head out of the undergrowth and
see the big picture of a productions
organization. Thats why organization
starts outside of the timeline; when
you get editing, the content is ready to
line up and play nice.

identify the file upon seeing only the


name. This will save hours in the long
run. When it comes to editing in the
timeline, you can identify stray clips
without having to scrub through to
figure out what they are.

Whats in a name?

Like consistent naming convention


across projects, a consistent timeline
structure is enormously beneficial. Over
time, building these habits into your
workflowwill help take care of mechanical redundancies of an edit and allow
you to concentrate on the portions of a
project that need your attention.
A good place to start in establishing
a timeline structure is in assigning and
layering tracks according to the content
they will hold. This can be tricky with
video layers and at times youll need to
break away from the standard in order
to get things to work, but it does help
when setting up an edit. One way to
start this is by determining what kind
of production the video edit is for and
understanding the different types of
footage and content that will be used in
the timeline. You can make the decision that only certain types of media
go into particular video tracks. For

One of the biggest favors a video editor can do for themselves is to come
up with a standard naming convention that they consistently apply to all
files in all of their projects. A naming convention is simply a standard
taxonomy for the structure of a name
given to files. It should be easy to understand and allow you to immediately

When youre working


with dozens, hundreds or thousands of
files, having a nested
folder structure is
essential.

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60

V IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

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EDITING

EDITING

NOVEMBER 2014

NOVEMBER 2014

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G-Technology Inc. _________________ 5
JVC Professional Products _________ C4
Kino Flo _________________________ 35
Kowa Optimed Inc. _______________ 55
Lexar Media _____________________ 21

User Interface Efficiency

NewTek _________________________ 15

Some of the greatest organizational tools in video editing programs lie outside of the
timeline. The UI (user interface) is an exceptionally well designed organizational tool.
Developers go to great extents to make sure their UI designs are practical and efficient for their users. They also understand that a UI is not a one size fits all solution;
thats why most video editing programs have a customizable UI. The customizable UI
allows the user to manipulate the appearance of the software to best support their
workflow. Here are five quick tips on how to best utilize a customizable UI for video
editing.

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the

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example, if youre putting together an


interview-centric piece they may decide
that video track 1 and video track 2 will
be for any two-shots of the interviewee
and the interviewer. Then you would
assign video track 3 to close-up shots of
the interviewee. Video tracks 4, 5, and
6 would be used for B-roll clips, while

Libec Sales Of America ___________ 19

OMPT __________________________ 27

contents

video tracks 7, 8,
and 9 would be
for graphics and
overlay effects.
This technique can
scale to the size
and scope of the
project. It doesnt
always hold up, but
its a good place to
start when laying
out a rough cut.
This same
technique can be applied to audio and
many times its a much more efficient
technique for audio work. Different
audio tracks can be assigned to different
voices within a piece, regardless of the
videos intent. Likewise, different tracks
can be assigned for sound effects and
music tracks. This makes it especially

After Effects Flow Chart

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62

Dont Settle For Just One Set-Up


Create and save multiple UI set-ups for different tasks. That way, the tools needed
for a particular post-production task are immediately on hand when needed, and
safely tucked away when not in use.
Expand The Timeline
Most editing work gets done in the timeline. The default setting for most video editing programs tries to distribute a balanced share of screen space across multiple
editing panels. Reclaim precious ground by reducing the size of windows and panes
that arent widely used and occupy the reclaimed space with an expanded timeline.
Take a Shortcut
There are shortcuts in life, theyre on the keyboard. Use keyboard shortcuts to
expand, collapse, hide and reveal tracks in the timeline. Theres seldom a reason to
see every waveform or keyframe all at once.
Keep the Search Light On
Most video editing programs allow the user to turn the search bar on and off. Keep it
on. A search becomes highly efficient when paired with a standard naming convention.
Turn Off the Noise
Some video editing applications let the user show or hide the timelines transport
controls. Create more screen real estate by turning of the on-screen transport buttons and use keyboard shortcuts.

V IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

Depending on what youre working on in your


editing application, you may want your UI to
be organized differently. Dont be afraid to
make as many preset layouts as needed to
work efficiently.

efficient for a video editor who is auditioning various music beds, they can
mute and solo individual tracks knowing they will only hear what is intended.
One of the greatest pervasive advances in video editing software is also
one of the simplest: color coding. The
majority of video editing programs
allow the video editor to color code
tracks and even individual clips. Just
like naming conventions, a consistent
use of color coding will help you visually identify various clips and tracks in
the timeline. Color coding is especially
helpful in those situations where you
have established tracks for particular
types of media and shots, but needs to
place a clip out of context within that
structure to create a particular effect.
Color coding is also useful in identifying
nested sub-compositions within an edit.

Dig Deep With Subcomps

Subcomps (or sub-compositions, often


also referred to as nested sequences)
are compositions that are placed as a
single clip within the timeline of another composition. It helps to think of
them as Russian dolls one composition opens up to reveal another. At first
glance they appear to be complex and
confusing, but when used properly,
and with good intention, subcomps
become an excellent organizational

FullPageAD_NEWTemplate.indd 48

tool. A video editing timeline is most


often filled with a large number of
clips. More often than not, groups of
these clips go together well and once
sequenced, will stay together throughout the edit. Its the positioning and interaction of these different groups that
ends up getting shuffled around. When
large groups of individual clips are
selected and moved around theres a
great chance that pieces will be lost or
placed out of sync within the timeline.
You can turn these large groups into
individual subcomps, in which they
appear and function as a single clip
in the timeline, keeping things much
more organized. The subcomp remains
highly functional as you can still open
it up and edit the individual clips in the
subcomp to suit their needs.

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Mark It Up

Markers are a very simple tool that


can be applied to the timeline and to
individual clips. Timeline markers are
a great way to denote various portions
of an edit. One of the most frustrating
mishaps for an editor is when several
synced clips stacked up on another
get accidently moved. Placing a layer
marker on each clip, to note where they
line up with overlapping clips and with
the timeline, helps visually line clips up
when they are accidently rearranged.
Markers also provide an easy way to
attach reminders and notes to frames
inside the timeline.
Video editing can get dirty. Theres a
lot to toil through with every production
and the deeper you get into your timeline, the deeper you get into the mess.
Organization is a habit thats formed
from intentional and consistent methods. Most of all, organization is a tool
one that helps efficiently manage the
chaos of the creative process. There is a
beautiful order that underlies even the
messiest situations, and truth be told, it
takes a lot of hard work and patience in
the dirt to grow something beautiful.
Chris Ace Gates is a four time Emmy Award-winning
writer and video producer.
For comments, email: editor@videomaker.com, use article
#17047 in the subject line.

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PRODUCTION TIPS
b y Ru ss F a ir le y

Getting Started With


Adobe After Effects
Everything in After Effects boils down to two concepts: animation
and layers. Try these two beginner techniques to get your hands
on both.

The possibilities for creating animations with Adobe After Effects are
pretty close to limitless. We can composite complex scenes, add thousands
of lens flares to Star Trek footage, or
create fun graphics without any live
action footage whatsoever.
So with all of these possibilities,
how does one figure out exactly
where to start? After Effects basically
boils down to two things: animating
parameters anything that can be set
with a number like scale, brightness,
blur, etc and manipulating layers
how the visuals are stacked on top of
one another.
Lets take a look at two beginner techniques that illustrate these concepts.

Basic Animation

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To start, lets create a new composition, or comp, that matches our footage dimensions and settings. Select
the footage to be used in the Project
window, and click and drag it onto the
Create a New Composition icon right
at the bottom of the Project window.
This will automatically format a composition to match the settings of the
footage being used. It will match the
size, frame rate and length of the clip
being used.
Now that we have a comp, youll
notice the footage appears as a layer
in the timeline window, and a look
at the first frame will show up in the
Composition window.
First thing were going to animate is
the opacity of the footage to make it
fade in. Were going to fade in the beginning of the footage over one second.
Look for a small twirl-down arrow
to the left of your footages name in
the timeline. Click the arrow to reveal

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the Transform properties for the footage. All of these properties Anchor
Point, Position, Scale, Rotation and
Opacity can be animated. Note
the small stopwatches next to each
property name. Well use these stopwatches to create keyframes, which
will determine the property value at
that time on the timeline.
Start by clicking on the 100%
property next to Opacity and replace
100 with 0. This will reduce the layer
opacity to 0%. That layer should now
be invisible.
Now click the stopwatch next to
Opacity. This will create a keyframe
on the timeline, locking in 0% as the
opacity value this time on the timeline.
Next, drag the Current Time Indicator, or CTI, to the one second mark.
Change the opacity value to 100.
This will increase the opacity of the
layer to 100%. Notice the footage has
appeared.
Take the CTI back to the beginning
of the footage and hit the spacebar to
preview the animation.
Congratulations! Youve completed
your first animation and have learned
the basis for one half of the foundation of After Effects. Just about any parameter in any effect in After Effects
can be animated with keyframes. Look
for the stopwatches, apply effects and
experiment.
Remember: there are no rules, so
dive in and see what you can do!

Creating Textured Text

Before you start, try to find a photo


of a texture by doing a Google Image
search for something like metal
texture and import it into an After
Effects comp.
V IDEOMAKER >>> NOV EMBER 2014

Start by choosing the text tool from


the tool panel at the top of the After
Effects interface. Click in the composition window, or preview window, to
bring up a text cursor.
In the Character Panel on the right
hand side of the interface, change the
font to something bold, like Impact.
Type a word. Russ is always a good
one to use. If the text is too huge or
tiny, it can be adjusted in the Character Panel on the right hand side of the
screen as well.
Once youre happy with your word
(move it around, scale it up, have
fun), drag the texture image from the
project window to just below your text
layer in the layer stack. It will appear
behind your text.
Next, in the timeline, change the
TrkMat (Track Matte) switch to Alpha
Matte X, where X is your text
layer name. If you dont see TrkMat,
right click Layer Name then choose
Columns and make sure Modes is
checked.
Voila! Your texture should now appear on your text. This concept of layers and how they appear and interact
with layers above and below them is
the second half of the foundation of
After Effects. Try playing with Blending Modes, Masks and Keying (green
screen) to see what else is possible.
Well be sharing more beginner tips
for After Effects in the near future, so
stay tuned to Videomaker.com!
Russ Fairley owns a turnkey video production company,
featuring Web videos, television commercials and live
event coverage.
For comments, email: editor@videomaker.com, use article
#17753 in the subject line.

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