Want a simple way to put up a background? These new PortaScreen Retracting Portable backdrops make it easy to travel and setup a solid backdrop for talking head interviews or products shots. When not used as a background, you could easily use the black backdrop as a flag or negative fill to control spill lighting. The portable green screen obviously would make it easy to key products or people out for background replacements. It's just about as nice as traveling with seamless paper as you don't need to fold cloth and worry about wrinkles. But better than seamless paper as you don't need to bring a backdrop stand set.

PortaScreen - Fast Retractable Portable Backgrounds

The PortaScreen is also a quick and simple setup for vloggers that need to hide distracting (ahem 'messy') backgrounds. Simply pull upwards to setup, and retract back into it's case when you're done. The 6'7" x 5' dimension should be more than enough when interviewing a single person, but if you need to fill the entire frame, one tip is to use long lenses to narrow the field of view when working with smaller backdrops. Seems like a handy product, and though i've seen others like this before, the PortaScreen seems to be more affordable. Check out the new PortaScreen backgrounds (product page here).

PortaScreen - Fast Retractable Portable Backgrounds

Officially announced just a few weeks ago and immediately tough to get a hold of, the new Sony ZV-1 camera is back in stock. The appeal of this compact camera is having a fully articulating LCD screen, built in ND Filter, fast autofocus, and image stabilization. Available now via B&H (here).

Learn More Sony ZV-1 Camera with Flip LCD Screen

One of the major downfalls to any of the BlackMagic Design Pocket Cinema cameras is battery life. For the newest 4K and 6K models, you could choose to add the Blackmagic Design battery grip, but the addition will not allow you to use most Cages. We've also recently seen batteries built into Rig Handles just to keep cameras and accessories powered. But now here's another interesting external battery design that incorporates batteries inside of a tripod plate (available via eBay here).

Tripod Plate Battery with USB

This plate sits under your camera even if your camera sits inside of a cage. This Tripod Plate Battery says internally it's using 6pcs of Panasonic's highest capacity NCR18650B batteries. With a total capacity of 20400mAH (or equivalent to 5.5x Canon LP-E6 batteries). Listed at 70wh if you were to compare it with v-mount specs which means you can travel with these batteries on-board most flights. It offers just under 11v output and also a 5V USB out, which could be useful to keep small Sony cameras powered up through USB.

What do you guys think? Is this something you would find useful, and should more companies offer batteries into a metal Tripod plate that to sit under a camera? You can check out the Tripod Plate Battery via eBay (following the link here).

Tripod Plate Battery with USB

After working on a few projects, we come up with our own solutions that help us to be more efficient. For organizing batteries, I know many (including me) use bags to store and separate charged up vs non-charged batteries. It works, nothing complicated, and inexpensive. But if you're looking into being a little more organized while helping out a fellow filmmaker, check out the Battery Mag.

Product Description:
The Battery Mag is a simple camera battery organizer that allows you to keep your Canon / Panasonic / Sony / Nikon / Fuji camera batteries organized and tidy in your camera bag. Know in an instant which batteries are charged and which are dead. Designed by a Documentary cinematographer to make life in the field a little tidier and a little easier.

Here's what I like about the Battery Mag. The case prevents loose batteries from shifting around in a bag and protects the contacts (terminals). It also shows you how many batteries you have missing. Often when i'm working with other people, we share batteries. So it's an easy visual to account for any missing batteries that haven't been placed back in to your bag. So yes I know we can all save money just using simple bags to store batteries, but in case you find the Battery Mag a good solution for you, more information is at Tim's website at http://Batterymag.co. (thanks Tim)

Battery Mag - Battery Organizers

In my opinion, Sony probably offers the best lineup of compact point and shoot cameras. So because we a;ready know the new ZV-1 Digital Camera is going to pack some impressive features and quality, let's skip the minor details and just jump into what I think is the best stand out features.

Sony ZV-1 Digital Camera

The most obvious design addition is the flip out LCD Screen. This single feature is going to make it desirable to anyone who has to present in front of the camera. Even just shooting b-roll or handheld, this ability to tilt and swivel an LCD screen is a big reason I love shooting with my GH5s camera.

Next is the built in ND Filter, which is going to help you obtain that unique out of focus backround with it's fast f/1.8 lens when shooting outdoors in bright light. Not to mention that f/1.8 wide open is going to help you when shooting in dim light. The ND filter is also important for setting proper shutter speed to get that natural motion blur.

While it is targeted to Vloggers who primarily work in front of the camera and are constantly on the move, there are many features that professionals can take advantage of when it's not appropriate to use a larger system.

The new Sony ZV-1 offers unlimited recording time to SDXC, 4K recording, high framerates, SLOG, fast autofocus, image stabilization, remote Wifi App control, and a whole lot more. While it won't replace a higher end system like a Sony A6600, the ZV-1's compact size and introductory price of $750 US certainly offers a lot of functionality and value. Available for pre-order (found here).

Sony ZV-1 Digital Camera

Here's an interesting auto focus lens for Sony that covers a full frame sensor. The new Samyang AF 75mm f/1.8 FE is a unique short-telephoto lens well-suited for portraiture, with a distinct focal length, compact design, and bright f/1.8 maximum aperture. Both the price and focal length sit somewhere between Sony's own 50mm 1.8 and 85mm f/1.8 lenses. The optical design incorporates a three extra-low dispersion elements and a pair of high refractive index elements, which help to suppress both chromatic and spherical aberrations for improved sharpness, color accuracy, and clarity.

An Ultra Multi-Coating has also been applied to reduce flare and ghosting in order to achieve higher contrast when working in strong lighting conditions. The lens's linear STM autofocus motor works in conjunction with Sony cameras' AF systems for quick, quiet, and precise focusing performance (yes Autofocus works in video mode also), and manual focus override is also available for more refined control. Additionally, a Custom Switch enables making intuitive adjustments of a variety of camera and exposure settings by rotating the lens's focusing ring. The new Samyang 75mm f/.8Available is available now via B&H (found here).

Samyang AF 75mm f/1.8 FE Lens for Sony E

As much as i love shooting with the smaller mirrorless cameras (Sony A7R3 + GH5s) as they are much easier to pack up and handle all day, I really despise the lack of having built in ND Filters. Having to thread filters on and off slows down the process of filming.

So what I ended up doing was permanently adding these Swing Away Filter Holders to my most popular run-n-gun lenses. When I need the ND Filter, I leave it down, and when I don't need it, I swing it away. I've also added lens caps over the nd filters so I never have to remove the adapter.

Swing Away ND Filter Adapter in Various Sizes

I could have just purchased one or two filter holders and shared them between lenses, but I decided to spend the extra money and just have one for each of my most widely used lenses. Over the last 9 weeks i've been using these adapters, I feel like it has made our productions so much more efficient. Quality of build is excellent, and I suggest everyone have at least one of these in your kits.

The only advice I have if you plan to use these ND Filter adapters on your lenses, is to make sure you use filter step up rings, and choose oversized ND or CPL filters. These swing away filter holders protrude a bit from the front of your lenses, and you may end up seeing vignetting, so you should go with a bigger size. If you're lens filter thread is 58mm, use a step up ring and purchase a 67mm holder, and finally add a 77mm ND Filter to the end.If you're lens is 72mm, try to step it up to an 82mm, etc. etc.

Swing Away Lens Filter Holder for ND Filters CPL

What headphones am I currently using for video editing? I've been asked this question a few times lately, and as i'm not exactly sure how I ended up purchasing the OneOdio Over Ear Headphones last year - i've been happy I did. I purchased one set last year for editing in my office, and just recently purchased another set when editing at home (no endorsements here, purchased it on my own). In fact my daughter keeps taking them off my desk to watch videos on her iPad, and so now I'm about ready to purchase a third set.

OneOdio Studio headphones with 50mm Driver

I'm not going to compare them to other top headphones people are using for video editing, as i'm sure there's a million other options out there. I'm just letting you know what I ended up with and have been using for almost a year now. I'm not the guy editing in surround sound, and most of my projects will probably be watched through some tiny smart device (phone or tablet). So if you're creating content mainly for social media and internet, then I think these headphones will work great.

[ If you're inclined to, I suggest reading through some of the thousands of Amazon reviews where even so called 'audiophiles' are comparing them to other top brands. ]

The OneOdio headphones are lightweight, soft pads, and are comfortable to wear for several hours of editing. I chose a model with a 50mm driver, and the sound is great. Though they don't have noise cancelling features (the one I chose), they fit well and block out a lot of ambient noise.

The OneOdio headphones don't feel cheap, and come with two different cords (3.5mm or 1/4), and enough accessories to work with any device. In fact the cord comes with a microphone, so if you happen to be listening to music through your smartphone and get a call, they even be used for conversations on your smartphones. For me they have held up over time, and kept me happy enough to buy it again. I suggest taking a look at some of their options as the OneOdio Headphones can start around $37 dollars and have more expensive versions depending on your needs.

OneOdia Over Ear Studio Headphones

Here's a video I shared a few years ago, but has become even more relevant under today's pandemic circumstances. More and more people are working remote and having to deal with live video conferencing / meetings. Instead of a poor quality webcam, with this adapter you can capture the HDMI video feed (up to 4K resolution) and turn any professional camera into a webcam for conferencing applications like Zoom, Skype, Hangout, and even Facetime. Or use it for live streaming through services like Facebook or YouTube Live.

Yes there are cheaper video capture adapters, but most are only up to HD resolution. Even though most streaming services only support HD, by having the option with 4K resolution, you can use the extra resolution for faux camera angles and simulate a multicamera production. If you're offering a live stream service for a business or company, this could greatly help turn those boring static camera angles into a more interesting and engaging presentation for the viewers.

Software like OBS will allow you to create 'scenes' in which you could zoom in to different parts of that 4K resolution and then toggle between them by just using your keyboard. Live Keying (such as green screen) will also benefit from 4K capture as you have more information to work with. So virtual backgrounds will be cleaner. Not to mention that 4K just looks better when downscaling. So yes, while there are cheaper solutions to turn any camera into a webcam, not many can capture 4K resolution like these Epiphan Video Capture Adapters.

epiphan video 4k hdmi to usb capture device card
Learn-More-sm Epiphan Video 4K HDMI to USB Capture Record Stream Adapter