DIY Video and Photography Projects

31Jul Tuning PID Settings for Varavon Birdycam GH4 Camera


Now that the Birdycam has started shipping, i’m hearing a few questions and comments about tuning the PID settings to work better with a lightweight camera. I myself found the system oscillating when my setup was too light weight. Here’s a video showing you a few simple settings you can change to get it working better.

Now just from experience I know what to sort of look for, but there’s no exact magic number. All I could tell was that I needed to reduce my PID settings and those are numbers that seemed to work. In fact I tested my 12-35mm F/2.8 OIS with my new profile and it still worked just fine.

After making changes to your system you should take it out and use it as you normally would, and then decide if you need to make further changes. Always make changes to one area at a time instead of making large blanket changes across every tab. Most importantly always make a backup or document your prior settings before you make any changes. If you have any other questions, you can leave a comment below.

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30Jul Varavon BirdyCam Gimbal BTS Footage SF Meet


Yesterday I met up with SatoStudios to check out the new DJI Ronin Gimbal, so I decided to bring out the Varavon Birdycam as well to shoot a few BTS clips. This footage is shot with a GH4 camera and although I find this footage to be incredibly smooth, I believe that I will have to tune up some of the PID settings to get best results on this super lightweight setup.

What you see in the video is still using the existing profile that was shipped with the unit, but it may be time to dig a little deeper. Since the Varavon uses the same Alexmos 32 bit software as the other gimbals, I can create my own custom settings. [BTW, you should not attempt this unless you know what you are doing].


varavon birdycam pre-order
find-price-button Varavon BirdyCam 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer

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29Jul Varavon BirdyCam 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer First Look


Here’s my first look at the new Varavon Birdycam (RTR) 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer. This stabilizer was popularized over other stabilizers in it’s price range, mainly because of it’s unique design which takes away the most tedious part about working with Gimbals – balancing your camera! So how easy was it? Well in real time (nothing sped up), I walk you through the exact steps on obtaining perfect balance with the Varavon BirdyCam Stabilizer.

Anyone who chooses to receive the Birdycam will first recognize the quality of parts and craftsmanship that went into the design. Almost every inch of the Birdycam is metal including thumb screws and clamp knobs.

Birdycam GH4 Birdycam Sony A7s
Birdycam shown with GH4 and Sony A7s

The next thing you’ll immediately notice is the ease of use. The folding handle design is quick to setup, tilt and roll locks are super handy during balancing or when placing the gimbal down. The most impressive feature of course (sure to blow away even MOVI users) is a frame surrounded by tool-less fine tuning adjustment knobs that allow for super accurate incremental adjustments for perfect balance.

Birdycam BMCC Wireless Transmitter Receiver
Birdycam shown w/ BlackMagic Design Camera and Optional Wireless Video System

Testing out my Canon 5D Mark III + Sigma 20mm the profile installed on the gimbal worked incredibly smooth right out of the box. No PID tuning required (yet). So far my expectations has been exceeded from what I originally thought I knew about this gimbal. For the price, it’s hard to beat the convenience and feature set. For more information about the product, check out the Birdycam 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer product page (click here).

varavon birdycam pre-orderpreorder birdycam varavon 3 axis gimbal stabilizer
find-price-button Varavon BirdyCam 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer

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29Jul Record Backup Audio Tracks with the ALZO 3.5 Female to XLR Stereo Adapter Cord


Having come back from a recent project where I needed to place Lav microphones on three subjects, it’s always a good idea that you have some type of backup plan. Here’s an audio tip I thought i’d share using the new Alzo 3.5 mini stereo to XLR adapter.

The Alzo 3.5 Mini Phone Female to XLR Stereo Adapter Cord is simply advertised as a way to connect a basic stereo microphone into a camera that offers dual XLR mic inputs. One important feature I think they missed in their product description is the ability to use the cable for backup audio recordings. By splitting your signal into separate tracks you can record one at a normal level and one at a lower level in case your original audio becomes distorted from peaking (clipping).

So the next time you place a microphone to a subject, think about making sure you have a backup audio in place. I highly recommend you consider this tip in your future audio setups. You can find this Alzo Stereo to XLR Y Cable (click here)

alzo stereo to xlr cable splitter adapter microphone audio backup
find-price-button ALZO 3.5 Mini Phone Female to XLR Stereo Adapter Cord

It’s a good idea to always carry a few of these cables in your audio kit, and if you’re working with XLR body packs or microphones, there are also XLR splitters available (found here).
XLR Audio splitter backup audio recording
find-price-button XLR Female To Dual XLR Male Y Cable

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28Jul HDSLR EVF Holders and Manfrotto Base HDMI LOCK


HDSLRnow brings us another excellent overview of an affordable EVF holder along with a clever Manfrotto QR base mounted HDMI lock(found here). I would suggest watching this video review entirely as it shares some clever new products.

For additional gear reviews consider following HDSLRnow via Twitter, and to find more information about these products and more check out the website (click here).

SmallRig-HDMI-Lock-manfrotto-577 Coollcd SmallRig-S-rail-1437-NATO-rail coollcd SmallRig-EVF-Mount-1432-shoe-mount coollcd
find-price-button HDSLR EVF HOLDERS AND HDMI LOCK

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28Jul LIBEC ALLEX S Tripod + Video Fluid Head + Slider Kit


Shortly after you pick up your first video camera, you’re shopping for a tripod. The next common piece of equipment for video makers looking to add dynamic camera movements would most likely be a slider. At this point, you may end up finding out the tripod you purchased doesn’t quite work well with your new slider, and you may end up still on the hunt for a decent video head to mount ‘above the slider’.

Libec Video Tripod Fluid Head Slider ALLEX S Kit
Libec ALLEX S Kit Fluid Head + Slider + Tripod

From my understanding, this is one reason LIBEC has created the ALLEX Kit. This is a combination of popular video equipment designed to work seamlessly together offering you Pan, Tilt, and Slide camera movements. The ‘base’ ALLEX Kit includes a 75mm Bowl Tripod, 75mm Bowl Video Fluid Head (which can also mount on a 3/8″ flat base), and a new 8 roller bearing video slider. The equipment can be mixed and matched or used independently. We had a chance to take these products out to show you how this system comes together.

The ALLEX T aluminum 3 section 75mm bowl tripod comes with a mid-level spreader collapses down to 29.5 and and reaches a max height of 64.5″. The tripod has wide rubber foot pads with integrated spikes to prevent sliding on dirt, gravel, or grass. Included is a padded carrying case with shoulder strap.

rubber pads spiked feet allex tripod

The ALLEX H Video Fluid Head is a ‘Dual Base’ that mounts to both a 75mm bowl or a standard 3/8″ flat base. There is a fixed counterbalance, illuminated bubble level, and holds a 9 lb payload. The fluid head also uses a drop-in style quick release plate which can be especially helpful when using rigs (cages, shoulder rigs with handles, 15mm rails, follow focus, matteboxes).

drop in plate allex libec fluid head video

The ALLEX S Slider uses 8 greased ball-bearing wheels (4 top / 4 bottom) and can support a max load of 33 lbs. Tabletop legs allow the slider to be used on the floor and leveled with independent height adjustable feet. The carrier includes a tension adjustment knob, brake knob, and bubble level. The slider shares the same dual-mount as the Video Head which can be placed on a 75mm bowl tripod or directly to a standard flat base with 3/8″ thread. A padded carrying case with shoulder strap is also included.

Libec Allex slider 8 bearings

The ALLEX S Kit will especially appeal to early shooters looking to put together a nice combination of sturdy Tripod, smooth pan/tilt Video Head, and smooth roller bearing video Slider. The system offers great quality, travels neatly, easy to assemble, and easy to break down. For more specs on the LIBEC ALLEX S Kit, check out the product page (click here).

Libec Allex Slider Tripod Video Fluid Head Kit System 2
find-price-button LIBEC ALLEX S Tripod + Fluid Head + Video Slider Kit

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23Jul Close Look Varavon Armor Cage for Panasonic GH3 / GH4 Cameras


To clear up any confusion, the dovetail is part of the cage and cannot be removed, but you can still mount any quick release you want. Check out the video for a closer look at the Varavon Armor Cage for the Panasonic GH3 / GH4 cameras.

There is an optional base with 15mm rails available at the website, but you could easily add the entire Varavon Cage to the top of any 15mm baseplate – as you would with a bare camera body. Here are some additional images, but for more information about the Varavon GH3 GH4 Armor Video Cage, check out their website (click here).

Varavon-1  Varavon-2

Varavon-3  Varavon-5

Varavon Armor Cage FH3 GH4
find-price-button Varavon Armor Cage for Panasonic GH3 / GH4 Cameras

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23Jul PDMovie Remote Air Wireless Remote Follow Focus


pdmovie wireless remote focuspdmovie receiver focus video

If you’re looking for an affordable yet feature packed Wireless Follow Focus system then you may have seen the PDMovie Remote Air. Available in a few different packages, B&H currently has at least one of the PDMovie Wireless Follow Focus kits in stock, and here’s an overview video via iKan Corp.

Different bundles are available for Single Channel (1 motor), Dual Channel (2 motors), and packages with Standard Motors and High Torque motors. Find out more details about the PDMovie Remote Air WFF at B&H (click here).

PDMovie Remote Air Wireless Follow Focus iKan FF WFF
find-price-button PD Movie Remote Air Wireless Follow Focus Systems

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23Jul Sandisk Extreme Pro 480GB Solid State Deal


If your camera (i.e BlackMagic 4K) or external video recorder (i.e. Atomos Ninja) requires a Solid State Drive for capturing, here’s a good deal. Included with your purchase is a 10 Year Warranty on this 480GB Sandisk Extreme Pro SSD deal today (click here).

Sandisk Extreme Pro SSD
find-price-button 480GB Sandisk Extreme Pro Solid State Drive

[Tip:] If you’re running out of space on a MacBook Pro, you can also take advantage of the fast SSD speeds to make your own Thunderbolt External Drive to edit video with using an external adapter (article here).

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21Jul F&V R-300 LED Video Ring Light Softbox Kit


The R-300 light is one of my quick go-to lights used off camera on a set of stands. Battery power (or AC adapter), lightweight means I can go with lightweight stands, and compact for traveling. The R-300 can surprisingly match (if not better) the larger heavier 1×1 600 Panels (see this article). Recently F&V introduced a new Softbox Kit for the R-300. If you’re wondering how much of a difference the softbox has, here’s a video showing a few examples.

Notice the multi-shadows when the R-300 is just bare LEDs, and still a bit with the milk diffusion filter. Taking a look at the Softbox examples removes the multi shadows and softens the light. Using the honeycomb grid controls background spills and the image appears to have more contrast while still diffusing evenly across the plane.

FV r300 softbox screengrab

For me, this is quite a significant difference, enough to deem this new Softbox as a ‘must-have’ modifier for the R-300. I’m looking forward to really testing it out on the next interview piece. You can find the R-300 LED Video lights and Softbox Kits over at the F&V website (Click Here).

hdr-300_set_up_1hdr-300_front_side_1_1_shadow
find-price-button R-300 LED Video Ring Light

r-300 led light softboximg_0394
find-price-button Soft Box and Bracket for R-300 LED Ring Light

For EU customers, check out the F&V EU website (click here)
fv r300 led ring light
fv light softbox led light
find-price-button Shop F&V (EU) Website R-300 LED Video Light

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16Jul Name the new Konova Auto Panning Slider


Konova has recently released a new slider that automatically pans keeping your subject in frame. The name of the new product is still yet to be determined – by YOU. If your suggestion is chosen you could win $1400 worth of Konova stuff. Here’s a short clip on how the slider works.

Apparently suggesting a name is only part of the process, you’ll still need to gather ‘likes’ on your comment to win. The new product is designed to work as an add-on with existing Konova Sliders and will set you back approx. $400 dollars (without slider). Pre-orders will save you -$50 OFF right now at the product page (found here).

Konova-auto-panning-head
Konova Auto Panning System on Konova K Slider

So if you’re looking to win or just have fun join in on all the crazy / silly name dropping and find out more information over at the Konova Facebook post following the link (click here)

Konova Name Slider Auto Panning
Name the new Konova Auto Panning Slider

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16Jul 50% OFF BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera + FREE Batteries


Big news, right now you can save 50% OFF the BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera (Body). I never thought to see a price drop this low and this soon for the BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera – especially following a recent firmware update. Either the new GH4 camera has affected sales on the BMPCC or could this mean there’s something new around the corner..

Here’s a recent press release that adds even MORE functionality to this amazing little camera. More file formats allowing for longer recording times on the same cards!

[Update] Blackmagic Design Announces New Apple ProRes™ formats for all Blackmagic Design Cameras
Fremont, CA – July 17, 2014 – Blackmagic Design today announced the immediate availability of Camera 1.8.2 software which adds three new Apple ProRes™ file formats for the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and Blackmagic Production Camera 4K. Camera 1.8.2 update is available now free of charge from the Blackmagic Design website.

Blackmagic Design camera customers have always been able to record in both CinemaDNG RAW or compressed ProRes 422 HQ formats, however now this new software update adds three additional Apple ProRes™ file formats, ProRes 422, ProRes 422 LT and ProRes 422 Proxy. This means customers using Blackmagic Design cameras will be able to get significantly smaller video file sizes allowing much longer recording durations on the same media card, all while preserving full frame 10-bit 4:2:2 quality.

Because this update is available to our camera customers free of charge, they simply need to download it, and install the update from their Mac or Windows machine using a simple USB cable connection to the camera. Once the update is complete, customers will see these new formats available in the camera menus.

Because this update reduces the data rate of recording, it means customers can now choose lower cost SSD or SD cards while still recording high quality video in SD, HD and Ultra HD resolutions. Using ProRes 422 Proxy it is possible to record 230 minutes of 1080HD video on a single 64GB SD drive. Selecting the type of ProRes format for recording can be set via the on screen menus and all ProRes types can be played back instantly.

The Apple ProRes 422 formats are designed specifically for multi-stream non linear editing, minimal generation loss and fast export, making them very popular video file formats for post production and broadcast. All ProRes files recorded with Blackmagic Cinema Cameras and Blackmagic Production Camera 4K can be opened directly in DaVinci Resolve 11 and Apple Final Cut Pro X™ for immediate color correction, editing and finishing.

“We are extremely excited to release this next update for our camera customers ,” said Grant Petty, CEO of Blackmagic Design. “With the addition of the 3 new ProRes formats, cinematographers can now record for longer on low cost SSD’s and SD cards without sacrificing image quality, as they are still recording in full 10 bit 4:2:2 quality. Because our cameras feature a software centric design, we are very excited to be able to update our cameras with more and more features over time and make the cameras better and better! And there is more to come!”

In any case, this is a great deal and a camera I still use quite often. Here’s the link to a few different places all knocked down 50% OFF.

blackmagic bmpcc camera50 off BlackMagic
find-price-button Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera + FREE Batteries


find-price-button BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera – via Amazon


find-price-button BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera – via B&H

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15Jul Unboxing CAME 7500 Ready To Run 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer


Now that CAME-TV is offering up several different gimbal options, the popular question right now is whether to go with the 7000 or the 7500 model. The CAME-TV 7500 model is listed as a ‘Ready to Run 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer’. Price is just $200 dollars more than the DIY 7000 Kit.

CAME-TV 7500 3 Axis Gimbal Satostudios
@Satostudios BTS with CAME-TV 7500 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer

Though it’s delivered mostly assembled, many parts are left loose for you to adjust and balance your camera. Once you have your camera balanced, it’s a good idea to run through and make sure that every bolt is tightened up. This is VERY CLOSE to the 7000 32 Bit DIY model with a few exceptions. The big difference with the 7500 (as opposed to 7000) is that you don’t need to build it yourself.

The CAME 7500 will also come preloaded with a few different profiles that are loaded by clicking on the center of the joystick. [NOTE: The video I share above was an earlier model, so your profiles may be different]. Aside from paying extra for a preconfigured system, they claim the CAME-TV 7500 model is using more powerful motors and also provide a case mounted to the back to protect the control board with an ON/OFF rocker switch. Considering there are not many ‘32 bit’ complete gimbals coming in at this price this is a great addition for those who don’t want to build it themselves.

CAME 7500 3 Axis RTR Gimbalcame 7500 ready to run 3 axis stabilizer
find-price-button CAME-TV 7500 32 Bit Ready to Run Gimbal Stabilizer

Now just because the system comes assembled or ‘Ready to Run’, it will still benefit you greatly to have an understanding of the different parts, pieces, and software configurations in case you need to troubleshoot or fine tune for your different applications. I would suggest that you continue checking in with my sub-website at http://gimbal.cheesycam.com.

For more information about the CAME-TV 7500 3 Axis Gimbal, check out the website (click here)

ready to run gimbal 3 axis dslr canon gh4CAME 7500 Gimbal Stabilizer
find-price-button CAME-TV 7500 3 Axis Gimbal RTR

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08Jul DJI Ronin 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer


In case you felt there weren’t enough options for motorized gimbal stabilizers, the latest DJI Ronin should begin shipping in just a few weeks. Introduced earlier this year at NAB2014, the new Ronin can support anything from a small micro four thirds camera up to a 16lb payload and comes with Auto Tuning software when which they say may not even require you to pre-balance the camera (of course it will always be better to).

If you’re working with a small setup, i’m not sure if the price and the size of the Ronin will be appealing, but for cinematographers who need access to a gimbal capable of flying a heavy Camera system there were not many Gimbal systems that could compete at the same level as the expensive MOVI.

Typically the MOVI stabilizer systems are rented, but now for under $4500 $2999 dollars I think many of those professionals would rather own the tool. The new DJI Ronin is available now for Pre-order and begins shipping in August 2014 (found here).

DJI-Ronin Gimbal
find-price-button DJI Ronin 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer

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08Jul FotoDiox Excell+1 Nikon or Canon FD ‘Boosted’ Adapter


With either the BlackMagic Pocket Cinema or Micro Four Thirds cameras, you can always benefit from faster aperture lenses and wider field of views. Here’s the latest lens adapter release from FotoDiox. The new Fotodiox Excell +1 adapter is similar to other Focal Reducer (Boosted) adapters that will give you a wider field of view and a faster aperture with Nikon or Canon FD Lenses. Right now it’s only available for Micro Four Thirds mount which include the new GH4 or BlackMagic Pocket Cinema camera.

According to the Fotodiox deal, if you order between now and July 22nd to get your own Excell + 1 Lens Adapter and FREE Light Cannon Creative Adapter (available only while supplies last). Find out more information following the link (click here).

Fotodiox Nikon to MFT M43 GH4 BMPCC Lens AdapterFotodiox Turbo Lens booster Speed Focal reducer Excell 1
find-price-button FotoDiox Excell +1 Micro Four Thirds Lens Adapter Nikon / Canon FD

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08Jul Zoom H5 Portable Audio Recorder In Stock


If you’ve always wanted to ugprade from the Zoom H4n your next choice was the $400 dollar Zoom H6. Well finally the latest and more affordable H5 portable audio recorder from Zoom is finally in stock today via B&H. Similar to the more expensive Zoom H6, the new H5 carries the same quality preamps and compatible with the Zoom line of Modular Micrphones.

Product Details
The H5 Handy Recorder from Zoom is a portable handheld recorder that features an interchangeable microphone system. The recorder ships with an XY microphone capsule and is compatible with the existing line of H6 modules including the optional shotgun mic and XLR/TRS input modules.

The H5 will ship with an XY stereo microphone module that features a built-in shockmount system and a 140dB maximum SPL. The recorder is also equipped with two inputs for external sources, allowing you to record simultaneously with the included stereo XY mic for a total of four input channels. Each input is controllable by its own analog gain knob.

zoom h5 h6 mid side miczoom shotgun microphonezoom xlr mic input
Optional Modular Mic Input System – Midside Mic, Shotgun, Dual XLR Input

The recorder also has an LCD screen and a side-mounted toggle control for navigating through the menu options. It gives you fast access to transport functions, offering physical control buttons right underneath the screen, and conveniently stores its recorded audio to external SD cards.

Built to many of the same specs as the H6 including:
•Same S/N ratio and maximum gain as H6
•Headphone output for monitoring
•Stereo line output for connecting to your camera
•Supports +4dB input

Zoom H5 Portable Audio RecorderZoom H5 Portable Recorder
find-price-button Zoom H5 Portable Audio Recorder Modular Mic System

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