dslr video


I've shown a few different setups with my BMMCC Camera rig a few times, and so I've decided to throw up a breakdown of my BlackMagic Design Micro Cinema Camera build.

As you know, the Micro Cinema Camera doesn't even come with a screen. So you're unable to change any settings until you've added a monitor.

BlackMagic Design Micro Cinema Camera

For a monitor, I've chosen the BlackMagic Design Video Assist 5" LCD which also doubles as a ProRes Video Recorder. It's small, and I can simultaneously record RAW in camera while recording Prores to the BMVA. This is handy if you want a backup recording, or if you want to record proxy files in real time.

BlackMagic Design Video Assist Monitor

Now mounting the monitor meant I needed a cage, and a way to pick up the camera. So my choice was to use the SmallRig BMMCC Cage and Top Handle.

SmallRig Cage for Micro Cinema Camera

Since the sensor is pretty small (cropped view), I've added a metabones MFT to EF Speedbooster. This offers a wider view, and makes your glass a bit faster (better in dim lighting). With the Metabones Speedboster lens adapter, i'm using Rokinon Cine DS Lenses. These lenses are small, affordable, and manual focus lenses which are great for video use.

crystal 800 wireless Rokinon Cine DS Lenses

But adding a full frame Canon EF mount lens ends up being too big for the body, and so you'll need to add some height at the base of the camera. For this i've mounted the cage to a quick release baseplate with 15mm rails. This baseplate works with popular Manfrotto 501PL plates. So I can quickly detach the whole cage from the base if needed and go right to a monopod with a smaller setup, or with the 15mm rails I can add things like a Kamerar Follow Focus or MatteBox.

crystal 800 wireless 501PL QR Baseplate with 15mm Clamps

The whole setup would normally be powered by Canon LP-E6 batteries, but they run down pretty quick. So i've added an IndiproTools V-Mount Plate with Canon Dummy Battery. With a CAME-TV Compact V-Mount Battery, I can power the camera and i've added a separate d-tap cable is used to power the BlackMagic Design Video Assist Monitor.

crystal 800 wireless IndiProTools V-Mount Plate with Canon LP-E6 Dummy Battery

Just to make it easier for handheld work, i've run a single 15mm Rail horizontally over the cage. On the right side i've added a 15mm Handle, and on the left side of the rail i've mounted the Video Assist Monitor using 15mm Pico Plates in such a way that makes it easy to tilt forward and back. That's pretty much the basic setup, if you guys have any questions let me know.

crystal 800 wireless 15mm Pico Plate Clamp

Parts found in this build:
Blackmagic Design Micro Cinema Camera (here)
SmallRig BMMCC Cage (here)
BMMCC Cage Top Handle (here)
Video Assist Monitor/Recorder (here)
V-Mount Plate + Canon Dummy (here)
Compact V-Mount Battery (here)
Quick Release Baseplate w 15mm
Kamerar Follow Focus (here)
15mm Pico plate (here)



My favorite shotgun microphone at the moment is the Azden SGM-250CX. It's a short shotgun mic with great sound, comes with it's own shock mount, an XLR Lead built in, and has a 1/4" thread for easy mounting. But because i've also been using it to boom outdoors, I wanted to build out a small Blimp (it's been very windy lately). So I decided to buy the Rycote Super-Shield Kit and purchased an extra small pod to get it exactly the way I wanted.

By starting with a short shotgun mic like the Azden SGM-250CX, and replacing the original front pod on the Rycote Super-Shield, I was able to shave off almost 4" off my blimp. That's pretty significant if you're trying to travel with smaller gear, and I'm still getting the same sound I would from a larger Azden SGM-250 mic!

It's certainly an investment to ensure you're getting better audio, but all it takes is one bad interview to ruin the quality of your work, and possibly your reputation for hire if you screw up an important job. Soif you think you're getting to that level of production, but want to keep your gear small, I think this setup is a great addition that should last for many many years.

rycote super shield microphone blimp
crystal 800 wireless Rycote Super-Shield Microphone Windshield (blimp)

Rycote Replacement Rear Pod Small Blimp
crystal 800 wireless Rycote Super-Shield Rear Pod

Azden SGM-250CX XLR Microphone
crystal 800 wireless Azden SGM-250CX Short Shotgun



As Sling Studio continues to roll out updates, the Sling Studio system is becoming more and more popular. Not to mention the popularity for Live Production and Live Streaming with multiple camera angles services are also growing in demand.

Sling Studio has just about the basic needs for small businesses looking to step into Live Streaming, and it solves many of the issues such as running cables, or having to use expensive cameras. You could literally use high quality iPhones or Android phones. If you're already an experienced video shooter, and looking to expand your services (for some extra cash), you could now affordably offer Multi-camera Live production / streaming with the Sling Studio system.

SlingStudio Wireless Live Switch Live Stream Live Production
find-price-button SlingStudio Multi-Cam Live Switch + Stream + Record



One popular set of small LED Lights that have been popping up lately is from a company called GVM (Great Video Maker). Starting at just $149 dollars with tons of excellent reviews (seen here), the GVM LED lights look like a great bit of kit for those who may just be starting out.

While I find the build quality, overall output, and Color Rendering excellent at this price point, there are a few 'quirks' one should know about the GVM 520 and GVM 672 LED Light panels. I've mentioned a few of them through my video review, but the stand out 'quirk' for me would be the lack of a battery meter advising you about how much time you have left. I feel this is one of the most important features any battery operated light should have (even if it's just an approximation). The last thing you want to worry about is having a light suddenly power off in the middle of an interview.

Second, it's nice that they offer built in wireless to control other GVM lights, it is limiting. Every light will have the exact same brightness and color temp setting. I see these lights being used on location as a small 3 piece kit, in which a majority of the time each light will have different brightness settings. If they were to introduce a handheld remote, then I feel the wireless controls would be much more appealing.

For 520 and 672 LEDs in a small panel, these will work best for talking head shots or maybe when working with products. They are probably not best suited for lighting large spaces. Overall I think the light offers excellent color reproduction for it's price. The phrase 'Bang for the buck' comes to mind when working with these lights.

You can find the GVM LED panels available via Amazon (click here).

crystal 800 wireless GVM 520 672 LED Video Lights



Thanks to B&H and Lacie for sending out this 6big Thunderbolt 3 6-Bay RAID Array for me to try out, and I have to say it's certainly my made my workflow a lot more productive in many ways. In order to feel confident about this system, i've been running it full time as my primary external drive for well over a month before posting up this article. External storage is often the last thing video editors thinking about investing in. First it's the camera equipment, and then maybe a good computer with some horsepower behind it. Storage is just an external drive plugged in, and when it fills up just grab another external drive. But as you get more serious, and start working with higher profile clients, managing media should become a priority. Physical drives can (and will) eventually fail, and that's just not good business. Referrals are a big part of freelancing video shooters, so having the right tools is like investing in your reputation.

But while you can setup small redundancy with a RAID0 or RAID1 and a minimum of 2 drives, video editors will want to take advantage of RAID5 which requires a minimum of 3 drives. And with RAID5 the more drives, the better write performance which will benefit you as a video editor in many ways. That leads you to 4-5 (or more) drives in an Array, and so it's obvious why the Lacie 6big 6-Bay RAID Array can be a great option for video editors. (Obviously it's not meant for those who are constantly traveling the world and editing from a Laptop).

Lacie 6bigLacie RAID Array 6 drives
LaCie 6big 6-Bay Thunderbolt 3 RAID Array

One service I offer as a freelancer is multi-camera type production which often includes event type coverage (Conferences, performances, theater, etc). It's the reason I own (3) Panasonic cameras + (3) BlackMagic Design Ursa Mini Cameras. If need be I also have a few different setups for Live Production (switching), and even Live Streaming. I won't go into detail about my setup here, but i'll tell you that shooting hours of non-stop video for each event adds up to a lot of data. When we're talking about using media hungry BlackMagic Design Ursa Mini 4.6K cameras, we're talking HUGE amounts of data (terabytes).

Ursa Mini Cameras

When you start to deal with large amounts of data, you need massive storage. A RAID Array comprising of several drives can be setup to be seen as a single drive, so you don't have a bunch of external drives connected to your system and having to sift through files. Of course with this much important client data, a RAID1 or RAID5 is something you should at least have setup (if not a more advanced backup setup).

Spanning several drives for simultaneous READ/WRITE also helps to ingest your video footage faster when offloading. I'm saving a ton of time here as I can offload my Terabytes of media faster, and saving even more time because I don't have to worry about creating backups to another physical drive. It's all happening at the same time. And because it's able to write to several spinning 7200RPM drives at the time, we're getting far better performance than SSD Drives at a fraction of the cost (even with redundancy enabled).

Apple MAC PRO Desktop 12-Core

My main Video Editing system which is an older MAC Pro Desktop only offers Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3.0. So while i'm seeing a huge difference is my drive performance with the Lacie 6big, my older system is unable to take advantage of the Lacie 6big's full potential. It's important to have a good CPU and GPU setup on your system for any type of graphics work, but those are areas you're not ready to invest in, there are many instances where you'll see improvements in your workflow just by adding a faster drive. For me personally, i'm seeing better playback speeds in Davinci Resolve when editing off the Lacie 6big and with my FCPX Libraries and cache pointing to the Lacie 6big, editing seems to be faster (as FCPX is constantly creating optimized files in the Library).

Having this level of storage capacity, redundancy, and performance in an external drive system really does have an impact with what goes on behind the scenes that we don't often think about. I can transfer my footage faster, I don't worry so much about drive failures, and I feel it's improved my editing workflow. While I could build out smaller RAID systems, it's really hard to imagine working with anything less than a RAID5 with at least 5-6 drives (because having less drives in a RAID5 setup would impact write performance).

Hopefully i'll be upgrading my computer to take advantage of Thunderbolt 3 soon (really want that new iMac), and i'll continue to work with the Lacie 6big for as long as I can. So if you have any questions about the Lacie 6big 6-Bay RAID Array, drop me a comment.

Lacie 6bigLacie RAID Array 6 drives
LaCie 6big 6-Bay Thunderbolt 3 RAID Array



We've been using the pocketable Zoom H1 (and now H1n) as belt clip audio recorders for years. Simply attach a lav mic and a belt clip, you're good to go. It's a good option for capturing clear sound when you don't want to deal with wireless drop outs or interference from wireless mic systems.

If you have the money, the other option for a tiny belt clip audio recorder was the Tascam DR-10.

But after years of waiting, Zoom is finally releasing a new F1 Field Recorder complete with a belt clip. But aside from using it on the hip of your talent, the F1 can also be used as a self powered Shotgun Microphone with a shock mount to use as an on-camera shotgun mic.

zoom f1 belt clipzoom f1 on-cam mic
Zoom F1 Field Recorder

The versatility of the new F1 recorder is something we've been waiting on for years, but the main issue manufacturers were not able to deliver this sooner was legal patent issues. There was in fact a few products announced that never made it onto store shelves (or only sold in specific countries). Let's hope the new F1 field recorder doesn't end up having the same problems.

Zoom has always had an excellent reputation for low noise sound recording, so using the F1 field recorder on your camera is like adding a small pre-amp to power up the shotgun microphone (internal camera amps are typically not that great). But aside from just sending sound directly into your camera, it's also making a backup recording to an internal card. And of course if your talent is going to be at a distance, you switch it from an on-cam shotgun mic to a lav belt pack recorder. I could see this in my gear bag for sure.

The new F1 is available to pre-order (here).

zoom f1 audio recorderzoom f1 shotgun mic
Zoom F1 Field Recorder



The original Zoom H1 portable audio recorder was a simple tool and that's what made it so great. Through the years I can say it has always been an instrumental part of my audio kit. It's nice to see that they have taken something great and found ways to make it even better (while still being affordable). The original Zoom H1 has been discontinued, and so if you're looking for a solid portable digital audio recorder, check out the brand new Zoom H1n features (found here).


  • X/Y Stereo Mic
  • New Layout of Integral Controls
  • Record WAVs & MP3s up to 24-Bit / 96 kHz
  • Records to microSD/SDHC
  • 3.5mm I/O
  • Built-In Limiter and Low-Cut Filter
  • High-Speed USB 2.0 Connectivity
  • Works as a USB Audio Interface
  • Uses 2 AAA Batteries

Zoom H1n Digital Handy Recorder

Now I don't think there will be a significant difference from the original Zoom H1 when listening to the final audio recording itself, so with this announcement you could benefit swooping up the original Zoom H1 for a discounted price.

And don't forget how you can use these as inexpensive portable belt worn audio recorders which is great when you don't want to deal with interference of audio drop outs from wireless belt systems. Perfect little setup for weddings, etc.

Zoom H1 Portable Recoder + AspenMics Belt Clip for H1 recorder



I'm not at the point where I think I want to produce full 360 VR video content, but I am sold on the idea of 360 cameras being able to reframe a shot in post and choose what you want the viewer to see. To make this post workflow simpler, GoPro is showing off their Mobile App which allows you to edit your GoPro Fusion 360 Camera footage directly from a smartphone.

Being able to achieve this type of editing from a 360 spherical capture is a growing trend amongst 360 camera companies. The new GoPro Fusion Camera is now available for preorder via B&H (here).

GoPro Fusion 360 Camera


1 Comment

I bought the Sony A7R3 for still photos. It's awesome. And as a video camera, I made comments about how I thought if you needed a 'dedicated' video camera, your money might be better invested elsewhere. I attribute it to the downscale quality of the massive Sony A7R3 40+ Megapixel sensor when recording HD resolutions.

And just to prove a point, the recently announced Panasonic GH5s is designed with a lot less megapixels than the GH5. The 10 megapixel sensor is optimized for 'video' and for better low light shooting, and even includes a bump to 240fps in HD. Many of the specs for video as far as resolution and framerate are the same between the GH5 and the new GH5s (minus sensor stabilization + 6K photo mode), but it's main stand out feature is low light shooting. Combine the new GH5s with a Speedbooster, you've got a monster MFT camera that can handle difficult low light situations.

Panasonic GH5s
Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S Mirrorless

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