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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).

GVM LED LightGVM LED LightGVM LED Light
crystal 800 wireless GVM 520 672 LED Video Lights

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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

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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

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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).

PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS

  • 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

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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

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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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Just to start things off, while i'm showing video with the new Sony A7R3 I'm not here to say it's the best video camera on the market. It's nice, but for the price I still think there's better video cameras you can invest in. The A7R3 is not really meant to be a 'dedicated' video camera anyhow. It's got a massive 42 MegaPixel sensor that serves best as a stills camera.

Sony A7R3 camera
Sony Alpha a7R III Mirrorless Digital Camera

From what I can tell, the downscale of the huge megapixels to 1080 HD video is when things start to get soft(er) on the A7R3. Cameras like the popular Sony A7SII for instance only have a 12MP sensor (almost 4x less). A camera like the Panasonic GH5 which can do 4K/60fps has about 20MP. I think you get the point.

Ok, so back to the video sample that was shot with the Sony A7R3 and Sony G-Series 12-24mm lens UWA. It's quite extreme for video and probably not something for high end clients that want things to look 'cinematic', but it's darn fun to watch on a stabilizer.

If you plan to use this lens (say with a Sony A7SII), then you'll need a decent sized gimbal. I'm showing it on the CAME-TV Prophet which is their largest single hand gimbal, but even something like the new Zhiyun Crane 2 (not v2) should work just as well. You just want to make sure you have enough space in a gimbal frame so that it doesn't collide against the roll motor when tilting. The 12-24mm is a nice lens as you can zoom to 24mm to have a normal perspective yet the physical dimensions don't change unlike other zoom lenses.


CAME-TV Prophet Gimbal


Zhiyun Crane 2 Gimbal

If you're looking for something slightly cheaper, Sigma also makes a 12-24mm lens for Sony (found here). But if you don't need the zoom and are only after the extreme wide angle, the Laowa 12mm for Sony (found here) seems to have good reviews as well.


Sony 12-24mm Ultra Wide Angle Lens FE Mount

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Here's a quick overview on the DigiSlider Motorized Wing Arm, that offers linear camera movement to be used for Timelapse or real time Video Recording.

DigiSlider offers two different sized 'Wing Arms', and what i've shown in my video is the smaller unit. The Wing Arm folds down fairly small which makes it easy to travel with, and the motorized controls will give you consistent speed throughout it's travel. This is a great little setup for adding just enough slide to make Timelapse interesting. The controller is capable of firing the shutter on most camera models, so you can do a true shoot-move-shoot timelapse which is needed for long exposure or HDR.

digislider wing arm motorized digislider timelapse wingarm

When used for real time video capture, it can be setup to Auto Loop during interviews. It's almost completely silent. Note that the smaller DigiSlider Wing Arm is only 1 Axis (no panning). If you want that parallax effect, you'll have to look at the larger Wing Arm that has an auto panning feature (seen here).

Because the belt is fixed into the system, you won't be able to get smooth movements if used manually (without the powered controller). You would have to take apart the case and remove the belt if you wanted to use it manually. Overall it's a pretty straight forward piece of equipment. For those smaller camera setups, the DigiSlider Wing Arm is a simple and affordable way to get into a true Shoot-Move-Shoot (SMS) video slider for timelapse or real time video. A piece of gear that's compact enough to fit in a small backpack. Let me know what you think using the comment section below.


DigiSlider Motorized Wing Arm Camera Slider for Timelapse or Video

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With smaller and more capable high quality video cameras, there's good reason to lighten up the rest of your equipment. If you're looking for one of the smallest 3-Axis motion control sliders to compliment your shrinking gear, then you may be interested in the new iFootage Shark Slider 'Mini'.

The modular tool-less design allows the Shark Slider Mini to pack small, but you have the option to quickly add sections to the slider for longer movements. When not used manually, a drive motor snaps quickly into the carrier (with no external wires or tedious connectors). The unique belt-less motion control system works by traveling over geared teeth that have been designed directly along the center of it's tracks.

ifootage shark slider mini

A separate 2-Axis Moco (motion control) head offers Pan and Tilt, and can be used independently for simple yet effective dynamic timelapse setups, or to create extremely high resolution images through a sequence of stitched photos (think GigaPan-ish).

ifootage shark slider mini photo stitching

Once you program the movements through the smartphone App via Bluetooth, you can disconnect and it will continue to carry out it's program, so there's no worry about keeping your phone tied down. The system is powered using Sony NP-FW50 batteries (generic batteries are included), so there's no worries about proprietary power and is easily accessible for consumers to purchase more.

ifootage mini slider motion control
buy ifootage mini slider iFootage Shark Slider Mini 3-Axis MoCo Slider

Target Control is probably my favorite features with the iFootage Shark Slider Mini as it allows you to maintain framing on a subject as the camera slides left to right. This is often desirable for small crews looking to add dynamic camera movements to a b-cam during interviews, or to simply create more interesting visuals with products or cooking related videos for example.

ifootage moco 3 axis slider

ifootage shark slider moco

Overall it's one of the cleanest, smallest, and easiest 3-axis sliders i've had the opportunity to work with. No belts, no external motors, and no dangling remotes. But from my brief experience, I would recommend it be used with the smaller camera setups, especially when using the 2-Axis MOCO Head.

It definitely won't handle a camera setup such as my Ursa Mini Pro. The system is also not 'completely silent', but should not be a problem if you've programmed slow movements and have the slider set a short distance away from any microphones. Obviously sound is never an issue when it comes to Timelapse photos.

For more info about the iFootage Shark Slider Mini, Bundles, and Accessories you can visit the Camera Motion Research website (here).

Buy iFootage Shark Slider Mini Price
buy ifootage mini slider iFootage Shark Slider Mini 3-Axis MoCo Slider

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