Mixer setup

For the trip to Kilimanjaro I will use 4 wireless channels and a boom for audio.  Everything will be setup in a tight/compact little bag weighing as little as possible. All support stuff such as extra lavs, batteries, wind screens, and stuff will be carried in other bags to keep the weight down.  We’ll walk for 6-10 hrs a day for 7 days so every gram counts… 🙂

Wave8

The center of this audio setup is a Timecode Systems WAVE. It will be the TC MASTER and send out TC to the 2 TrX+ units on the cameras every 0.5 seconds.  It will also feed the Sound Devices 633 mixer with timecode.  It also creates a WiFi network to let and iPhone or Ipad get frame accurate timecode display.  This works great for visual slate’n of cameras which don’t have timecode in, which is something I’ve used extensively in the past  Show the digislate in the iphone and synk up in post.  (This is how I came to use TimeCode Buddy systems a few years ago)

Wave2
Timecode systems own IOS app to view and control WAVE and TrX+ units.

Another new feature of the Wave TCB line is their new interface “Blink”.  This COM interface will let you control and monitor all connected units through your phone.  You can set TC, change Userbit, name the units and and check battery levels and such. During my testing before this project it really is easy as pie to set up multiple units with a click on your phone. Name, change, check and control, all available in your smartphone.  The connection time of the TrX+ units to the WAVE is almost instantaneous so my setup time in the morning is next to none, which is one of the features I’ve liked most in the past using TimeCode Systems.

I am heading out into the mountains in a few days and we’ll see if this all works as great as I’d like it to.  We’re expecting rain and lots of weather as well as being up on plus 4000m altitudes to this will be a test of how well things work in real life.

Wave1
Control and overview screen i IOS app

 

 

 

Disclaimer:  No one has asked me to write this post, nor is there any promised compensation for writing it. I have No affiliation to Timecode Systems, I am just a long time very happy user.

PIX-E5 video delay

I recently bought the Video Devices PIXE5 monitor/recorder. I am really happy with the size, features and the screen.  There is only one problem, I am way to sensitive about the video delay.  I tried to operate a comedy show off the monitor and thought I was filming a different person at times.  At IBC I spoke to the lead hardware engineer at Sound Devices who completely discarded this when I brought it up.  He said they have measured the delay to 2 frames, 1 frame to precess video and 1 frame to flip the display.  I made a claim of the delay being atleast double that but got an answer this was nothing they were going to look into to.

When I got back from IBC I set up this, very unscientific test, to show there is more than a 2 frame delay. You be the judge.  Shot with an Sony Fs7 with one SDI port going to each monitor, so no loop out.  I have since confirmed with Sony Europe that the delay from the SDI port on the Fs7 is 20ms, 1/2 frame.

I chose to use the Sound Devices PIX240i, a wonderful recorder/monitor to show the difference.

I sent this video to Sound Devices/Video Devices on the 28th of sept and got a fat response they would have a look but have heard nothing since. (2 oct)

 

a 4-5 frame delay is usually not a problem if your lighting or shooting a slow moving setup, but it is a lifetime if you’re shooting anything moving fast.

Iphone sync

Next week I am heading to Rwanda for 8 days of filming.  We’ll be bringing along GoPros and possible a DSLR camera to compliment out 2 SONY FS7’s. The secondary CAMs are without a timecode input and I would like to easily sync these up in post.   I’ve previously written a post on using Timecode Buddy to sync up non TC cameras like GoPro etc.

On this trip thought I’d like to cut out the wireless connection and go old school cable.  I took an iPhone headset and cut it in two.  Put on a BNC connector on the other end and hooked it up tp my iphone.  Using the  MOVIE SLATE app I can jam sync from any TC out connector.  Works great and held frame accurate timecode for at least 2 minutes (after which I shut the app down)TC_Jam01

The above picture is a frame grab from our PDW-700 in which we film the iPhone jam synced.  Looking at this in Premiere Pro they match perfectly!  Using this method I can visually slate a GoPro for easy re sync in post!

 

TC_Jam03

TC_Jam04

FYI: To do this right one should put a line -to-mic pad of about 20db. I didn’t do that on this one but it seems to work anyway, but there is the chance of the signal being distorted enough for the app not to be able to “hear” the time code.

 

Disclaimer:  No connection with any of the above mentioned companies.

Natural light

Today I shot a pilot for a documentary series hopefully coming soon.  We were a small team, sound guy and myself + producer, no budget and short of time.

Here is an example of what natural light can look like in a hurry.  Very simple setup.  I taped some 250 diff (3/4 stop loss) to the windows (RED marked) and put a 1/4 stop silk flag on the top window to take the harsh edge off.  Then a little bounce from the left.  The only light in this shot was a small LED (with 1/8 Minus green) that hits him ever ever so slightly on the right cheek.  That it!!  We shot this on the Sony FS7, in Slog3, XAVC.

Other things I wish I would have done: Add a black flag to the right hand side to give a little more contrast face right. Remove the plant in the way back.  Never ever happy… 😉

Nat light
Nat light2

This is the final frame.  Slog3. NO grading


Nat light30 uncorrect0

Same frame but added a Rec709 LUT, NO grading.Nat light30 copy

The compression artifacts in the frame grabs are due to hard JPG compression for the web!

Adobe Speedgrade and LUTs

I recently started getting into Adobe Speedgrade since we’re using Adobe Premiere Pro for editing.  The Adobe suite really has a nice family of programs to allow you to edit, color grade, sound mix, and VFX all within the same suite. The round trip function between for example Premiere Pro and Speedgrade is really sweet and easy to use.

So I wanted to create some custom LUTs to load into our Sony FS7.  I started playing around with this and after a few attempts of not being able to load the LUTs into the camera I realized there is a compatibility problem between Speedgrade and the Sony F5,F55 and FS7 cameras.

SpeedgradeBLOG2

The exported LUTs from Speedgrade are in a  32x32x32 .cube format and the Sony cameras will only accept the 33x33x33 .cube luts, being exported from other apps such as Davinci Resolve.  Of course I could use resolve but i’d like to be able to do it within speed grade since we use the adobe suite for the rest of our stuff.

I pushed an email to my contact at adobe and he was not aware of this but would check and get back to me with some news, hopefully soon… In the meanwhile I’m looking at ways of converting the 32x LUT into a 33x LUT.  I’ll post updates.

Tape your bounce

IF you’re like me perhaps you treat bead board like an expendable. It’s great for a quick bounce, lightweight and cost next to nothing. If it breaks or tears throw it away and get a new one. Cause one problems is just that it’s really fragile, especially in the edges. The easy fix is to just wrap the edges with some gaffer tape. It will hold up way better to the abuse it’s put through during a day of production.

Bounce4

 

Another favorite is to break one in half and gaffer tape it together like a little book.  Makes for a quick easy, bounce on a table or such and it also keeps the light from spreading everywhere. Easy to fold and bring along.

Tape the backside as well and it will last even longer.

Bounce3

 

Bounce6

Sometimes you may also want a little more push in the bounce the the white beads. Simply gaffer tape your favorite bounce material to the front and you’ll still have a lightweight, rigid bounce board costing next to nothing.

Bounce1

For the low cost version of silver bounce you can use oven aluminum foil.  Sound silly but works like a charm for a hard silver bounce. If you want a little softer but still silver choose the heavy duty textured oven aluminum foil. One downside to the cheap DIY consumer bounce is that it’s noisy, any movement or slight wind will make it russle and mess wih your audio.Bounce2

 

Bounce5

Smart box

Jokerbox

Sometimes you see things that you just fall in love with. (Loving gear is a problem, I know…)
Seems simple enough. A wooden box with dividers. So smart, so simple, I want them!  Check it out.

 

 http://jokerboxes.com

P.s. I reached out about 5 days ago to see about buying these in Europe but still no response, so I can’t speak for their customer support… :/

 

Disclaimer:  No connection with Jokerbox in any way

What’s in your bag…?

I always have a small personal bag on a job. Stuff that’s personal and just good to always have within reach.
There are many names for an always-carry-bag. “Grab-bag”, “Go-bag”, “run-kit” “EDC-bag” and so on, and it’s always interesting to hear what other people carry along when on a job.

First off there are 3 things I never leave home without, working or not. 🙂
1. flashlight
2. Small folding knife
3. Permanent marker.

EDC_kit1

Then there is the small “Run-kit” which I bring along on every film job I do which includes the list below.  The purpose of this kit is to have some “extras” even when on a job where I don’t bring any film gear and work as a camera operator only.  I use a 5.11 shoulder bag or a 5.11 sling bag for a slightly larger size carry if am bringing an extra set of cloths or kneepads.

my 2 favorite go-bags. The reason I like these bags is that they are really really thought trough with pockets, zippers, attachment points and quality
my 2 favorite go-bags. The reason I like these bags is that they are really really thought trough with pockets, zippers, attachment points and quality

 

* A pair of Gloves (hot gloves by SetWear)
* Sekonic 758c Light meter
* Hand sanitizer
* Power charge pack 10 000 mAh
* a small amount of gaffers tape. Not a whole roll as that’s in my regular kit bags, but 20-30 “folds”
* zip ties
* headphones
* iPad mini
* couple of Energy bars
* small first aid kit
* water bottle
* sun screen (when applicable)
* Leatherman Multitool
* a small headlight
* Electrical tape
* a “Power-pen” to determine if an electrical outlet is live
*  Some AA/AAA/9V   batteries
* some extra audio/video/data connectors (BNC angles, tubes, XLR, USB, FireWire etc)
* Gore Tex shell jacket and pants
* soft kneepads

What do you keep in your kit??

Thanks to the Iphone having such worthless batteries I NEEED this everyday...
Thanks to the Iphone having such worthless batteries I NEEED this everyday… 10 000 mAh

 

a small Petzl head light
a small Petzl head light
my small first aid kit
my small first aid kit (AA battery for size comparison)
My trusty light meter
My trusty light meter
D-Tap to 5V(2A) for charing iPhone/iPad
D-Tap to 5V(2A) for charing iPhone/iPad
My Leatherman Charge TTi
My Leatherman Charge TTi
Great for blowing dust
Great for blowing dust
heat protected gloves
heat protected gloves

 

Browse app iOS

I have all my photos and files backup up, in several location, but the main backup station is in my basement on a NAS (network attached storage).
I can access this from all over the place and it’s hooked up to my computer, TV’s and home cinema via LAN and WiFi. But one thing I was missing was a good app to browse my NAS via my iPad mini and iOS.
I searched and found a few different one but decided on the “File Browser”.
20140715-210932-76172838.jpg

20140715-210932-76172724.jpg

It lets me browse all kinds of file but for me mainly pictures, Jpg and even Raw files, movies and and download, email or even Chromecast or Airplay them to a screen. It loads thumbnail quickly and if your wifi is fast it’s almost like browsing on your computer.
You can access all your favorite clouds such as Dropbox, Box GoogleDrive and via FTP and WebDAV.

There is a free version if you want to try-before-you-buy.
Check it out.
http://www.stratospherix.com/products/filebrowser/

Disclaimer: No relation or ask, just a cool app I found which helps my daily computer needs… 😉

 

camera confidential

Are you new to the game or simply trying out new assignments and need some good tips on how other do it.  Here is a great resource which also supports an important organization,Rory Peck Trust.

It’s and E-BOOK written by Christian Parkinson, BBC cameraman, editor and video journalist with tips and tricks from a wide list of professionals in this line of work, including me.   Cost is £4.99.

“Sections include: breaking into the industry, how to pack your kit, how to fill out customs paperwork, what to carry in a warzone, how to operate in extreme weather, how to shoot interviews and pieces to camera and advice on writing scripts and story-telling. It’s the accumulated knowledge of my years on the road as well as the product of numerous interviews with the likes of four-time Royal Television Society cameraman of the year Darren “DC” Conway, well known filmmaker Phillip Bloom, numerous freelance cameramen and camerawomen from around the world, experienced reporters and security advisors.”  -Christian Parkinson

CamConfi2

https://rorypecktrust.org/rpt-live/July-2014/writing-camera-confidential