Undoubtedly one of the hottest topics at NAB2018, Blackmagic Design has finally released a new version of the Pocket Cinema Camera. It's a significant size different when compared to to the original, but it solves many of the issues of the previous design. The body now offers external buttons and dials that give you fast access to the most important functions. 13 stops of Dynamic Range and better low light performance with it's dual native ISO up to 25,600. 4K up to 60 frames RAW, and 120fps in HD (windowed).
Images capture on the new Pocket Cinema 4K camera can be recorded to SDXC, CFast 2.0, or for longer recording times, you can also record directly to an external SSD or flash disk using the built in USB-C Expansion Port. 5 inch touchscreen makes it easy to frame shots, focus accurately and change camera settings. Built-in microphones, mini XLR input with Phantom Power, full sized HDMI, 3D LUT support. BTW, not only can you install a LUT for monitoring, but you have the option to 'bake in' a LUT during your recording.
Although i'm not a fan that they chose to use a Canon LP-E6 battery, the USB-C Expansion Port accepts power so you can charge the battery from portable battery packs, a mobile phone charger or even your laptop computer. The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K includes a full version of DaVinci Resolve Studio ($299 value), which is a complete post production solution.
Here's a general overview of the new CAME-TV Crystal 800 Wireless Video Kit. Besides being rated for up to 800 meters, the stand out feature for this kit is that you can also use an iOS device such as an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad as a wireless video monitor displaying the feed from a remote camera.
While the long range and ability to monitor through an iOS device are appealing, the Crystal-800 is not meant to replace higher end units if you want to record high quality from the video stream. While the transmitted image comes in clear and sharp, it does not appear to be uncompressed. Also i've noticed that certain framerates (i.e. 24p) that are input into the transmitter seem to end up as 30fps on the HDMI output of the receiver. You can also enable Audio to be be transmitted, but keep in mind that it is compressed audio but should be good enough for basic monitoring.
If your main goal is simply to send video from a remote camera to a director's monitor, I think the Crystal-800 is an excellent system. You don't even need to build out an lcd monitor with a cage. You can simply have the client monitor from an iPhone or iPad.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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).
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.
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.
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 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).
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.