Pro Moviemaker Autumn 2017 sample

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GROUP TEST: DUAL PURPOSE LIGHTS The new way to shoot both still and moving images


Shortcuts and tips to grade your films


Make cash from your smartphone


The ultimate magazine for next generation filmmakers

AUTUMN 2017 @ProMoviemaker


Why the time is right to move up to a real movie camera Canon EOS C200 n Panasonic EVA1 n Sony FS5 & FS7 II n Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro


The kit that’s made a real difference this year

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How to conquer adverse weather with your aerial cam



Super-quick A9 put through its paces

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OPINION by Adam Duckworth



Welcome to the latest issue of Pro Moviemaker, and once again we’ve pulled out all the stops to put together a cracking issue for you. Our headline test features the formidable Canon EOS C200, a camera that looks to have the potential to revitalise the market: check out how we got on with it on page 40. It’s part of a major section focusing on the cinema camera sector; we’re also looking at the Sony FS7 II and Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro, previewing the Panasonic EVA1 and showing how the Atomos Shogun Inferno plus a Raw upgrade can help the FS5 to output files that better those of its pricier FS7 sibling. Plus we take a stroll through the cinema camera second-hand market – there are some mouthwatering bargains out there! We’re also taking a look at the rapidly expanding sector of mobile filmmaking, starring the far-from-humble smartphone. It’s ridiculous just how well-specced the latest models are, and if you think they’re strictly for amateurs I guarantee you’ll be changing your mind by the time you’ve finished this feature. And don’t miss our feature on vlogging, which highlights just what an ally YouTube can be for those who know how to take advantage. In short, it’s another jam-packed issue full of great stories. Enjoy the read!



The ultimate magazine for next generation filmmakers EDITORIAL

Editor Terry Hope Managing editor Adam Duckworth Senior sub editor Lisa Clatworthy Sub editors Siobhan Godwood & Fliss Evans




Imagine if you laid out a rather large pile of cash to buy a brand spanking new smartphone, with all the latest gadgets like a 4K camera inside and location maps linked to GPS. Then you had to pay extra to ‘unlock’ them so you could actually use them. I’m not talking about things like dedicated apps made by separate developers, but capabilities your new phone actually had built in by the manufacturer. You’d be up in arms, right? Especially if the price to make your phone do what it was designed to do actually cost 20% of the price of the phone itself. Or computer. Or other gadget. Well, that’s exactly what some video camera manufacturers are doing and getting away with in the name of paid firmware upgrades. After all, there is no other option. You can’t buy the upgrade from a rival supplier or do it any other way. If you want to unlock the Raw capability and high frame rate recording in Sony’s FS5 for example, it costs 20% on top of the camera’s price. For that, you get a box with a code inside that you key into a website for another code to unlock the features the camera already has. Sony has been at it for years, charging handsomely for upgrades to make its FS700 record in 4K for example. Even Panasonic is at it but at a lower level, charging around a hundred notes to allow its GH5 to shoot in V-log. Of course, you could say that camera manufacturers are doing lots of work to improve their cameras, so should be paid. But it’s not like we’re talking a relatively insignificant amount of money, on top of an expensive camera purchase that we all know depreciates hugely. Manufacturers are constantly working on new tech, and if that can be retrospectively applied to its current cameras, than surely it would engender brand loyalty and make you feel they were on your side rather than trying to fleece you at every opportunity. Makers of stills cameras like Fujifilm know this, and constantly update their cameras free to users who really appreciate it. And stick with the brand as it seems to care about them. It’s time makers of video cameras did the same.


BSC expo C






Sales director Matt Snow 01223 499453 Advertising manager Krishan Parmar 01223 499462 Sales executive Shannon Walford 01223 499457 DESIGN

Design director Andy Jennings Design manager Alan Gray Senior designers Katy Bowman & Laura Bryant Designers Lucy Woolcomb PUBLISHING

Managing directors Andy Brogden & Matt Pluck




Bright Publishing Ltd, Bright House, 82 High Street, Sawston, Cambridgeshire CB22 3HJ Pro Moviemaker is published quarterly by Bright Publishing Ltd, Bright House, 82 High Street, Sawston, Cambridge CB22 3HJ. No part of this magazine can be used without prior written permission of Bright Publishing Ltd. ISSN number: 2045-3892. Pro Moviemaker is a registered trademark of Bright Publishing Ltd. The advertisements published in Pro Moviemaker that have been written, designed or produced by employees of Bright Publishing Ltd remain the copyright of Bright Publishing Ltd and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. Prices quoted are street prices. In sterling they include VAT but US dollar prices are without local sales taxes. Prices are where available or converted using the exchange rate on the day the magazine went to press.



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Latest filmmaking kit goes Dutch! Amsterdam’s IBC show is the showcase for all the latest new technology

AGENDA Amsterdam is the place to be for filmmakers this month as the annual IBC show is the European showcase for all the latest innovations in technology. Manufacturers launch new products there, the best in the industry give workshops and seminars and, of course, Pro Moviemaker is there to check out what’s going on. As we go to press before the show, lots of the new kit that we’ll see is a closelyguarded secret. But there are some exciting new products we know we’ll be seeing and getting a hands-on with. The first and most high-profile will be the exciting new Panasonic EVA1 camera, complete with its Super 35-size chip, small form factor, low price, EF mount and 5.7K sensor. You can read more about the camera in this month’s Cinema Camera special section later in the magazine, where we talk about its impressive spec. IBC will be the first time anyone will get a hands-on with a real working version of the camera and be able


to check out the footage. Prepare to be impressed! Also brand new will be the new Flowtech tripod technology from sister firms Sachtler and Vinten. This has unique quick-release brakes and easyadjust levers for super-fast set-up. The company’s Tobias Keuthen said: “Flowtech is the type of innovation that happens when two legendary brands from the broadcast, film, and video industries join forces. “With the world’s fastest-deploying tripod legs, it combines the speed and portability of a Sachtler tripod with the rigidity of a Vinten. It’s easier and faster to deploy and adjust than any other tripod.” The Flowtech design offers a set of two-stage carbon-fibre tripod legs with a mid-level spreader that’s easy to remove, rubber feet, and a payload capacity of 20kg/44lb. Quick-release brakes enable all the legs to be deployed simultaneously and adjust automatically to the ground’s


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AGENDA “It’s the type of innovation that happens when two legendary brands join forces” surface, eliminating the need for operators to bend over or manually adjust multiple brakes on each leg. Magnetic locks ensure the legs are stable during transport, and the £810/$1050 Flowtech 75 can be adjusted from 26cm/10in to 157cm/62in. LED lighting pioneers Litepanels will be unveiling the brand new Gemini 2x1ft panel, designed to have all the high-tech features of the premium top-selling brands but be cheaper and lighter. We’ve already tested a prototype and are very impressed with it. You can read all about it in this issue. We’ve also got out hands on the latest RØDE VideoMic Pro+ which will get its first showing at IBC. It’s a refined version of the VideoMic Pro which is designed to be used on DSLR and mirrorless cameras and has been a massive sales success. It still comes with a Rycote Lyre suspension system, but the VideoMic Pro+ improves on the existing VideoMic Pro capsule/line tube and windshield, as well as boasting a host of new features. There’s also a new function that automatically turns the microphone off when unplugged from the camera, saving


Sony released its long-awaited free firmware V4.0 upgrade for its popular FS5 camera, adding HDR gamma and lower ISO settings when shooting Log, then withdrew it within a few days. Some users complained of faults when using HDR and audio sync. A new version was released within a couple of weeks to fix the flaws.

batteries. And there’s also, thankfully, a new battery door to replace the older, more fiddly version. It can now be powered by a lithium battery as well as 2xAA cells, and has many more features to improve audio quality. We’ve already had it in for test and you can read about it later in this magazine. IBC runs from 14-18 September and is at the RAI exhibition centre in Amsterdam, Holland. We’ll be bringing you all the new product updates live from the show on our website


Want a shift lens for your Sony E-mount camera? Then you’re out of luck for native glass. But Venus Optics has revealed a Laowa Magic Shift Converter to allow you to use its 12mm f/2.5 ultra wide-angle lens. It comes in a Canon or Nikon fitting, so ultra wides from these manufacturers will also work. The adapter costs £231/$300.


Nikon announced it was going to unveil a new D850 DSLR camera to celebrate its 100th birthday, but didn’t reveal any specs. But a leak of an official document says it will be a full-frame 45.75MP DSLR, with 8K timelapse video, 4K UHD video in full-frame format with no crop and shoot 120fps in HD. No price has yet been announced.


Canon’s EOS 5D Mark IV now shoots in C-Log, as long as you send the £99/$99 firmware upgrade fee to an authorised Canon Service Centre. The colour profile is said to match C-series cameras and gives the DSLR 12 stops of dynamic range at ISO400 or higher.


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The world according to one of the pioneers of DSLR documentary and news filmmaking WORDS DAN CHEUNG



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perfect example of a professional photographer who turned to filmmaking, Dan Chung was one of the pioneers of using large-chip DSLRs that revolutionised the business of making movies. Well known as a documentary photographer, he led the change to moving images and has worked as a stills photographer, TV cameraman and documentary filmmaker in both Europe and China. As the original proprietor of the filmmaking website, he brought the technical skills of moviemaking to a new audience. And now he’s moved into the industry side, working for Australian monitor giant Atomos as he aims to use his real-world experience of filmmaking to improve products. Chung, who was born in Loughborough, UK to parents from Singapore, is an avid camera and lens collector and guru on lots of the latest technology. We caught up with the 46-year-old at his London home to hear his take on the world, in his own words. I’m a visual version so I see the world in pictures. My dad got me a camera was I was 12 or 13 and I never looked back. I spent summers working in camera shops while going through university, becoming obsessed with photography while doing a geography degree that I really didn’t want to do. I thought it was amazing capturing little slices of life. It was always documentary style work for me. It’s a cliché, but I was influenced by Cartier-Bresson rather than contemporary photographers of the day. I was less geeky then but got increasingly geeky as time went one. I went from a rangefinder with a fixed lens onto an SLR with lots of lenses. My love of photography wasn’t born out of a geeky love though. I got involved in politics early on. I became the photographer on the university magazine and was into student politics. I was mainly into the Liberal Democrats and went to by-elections. Someone in the press office noticed I had a camera and asked me to take pictures. The next thing I knew I was official photographer for the party going around the country with Paddy Ashdown surrounded by all the press and TV guys. That introduced me to Fleet Street. It was a great experience, being in at the deep end at a young age. I learned a lot in a short space of time. I learned to deal with people. I always had composition skills and a bit of lighting knowledge. You can teach yourself it a bit, but I think you’re born with it. It’s like what makes someone a great painter, poet or artist. Some people are naturally lucky. I’m better than most but not as good as some. The ability to get to the next level is beyond me, it’s not what I am. You can talk your way into all sorts of things, which is my skill. Knowing how to behave in situations combined with a reasonably good eye is what I have. There are people who are really at the highest level – close to god! It’s all about what combination of chromosomes you end up with, combined with a bit of luck and your personality, and access to toys. I got as far as I could get with the evolutionary cards I was dealt.


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CAMERAS The choice of video-capable cameras is continuing to expand, with several exciting high profile launches to report on over the past year. It was DSLRs such as the 5D Mark II that pioneered the explosion of interest in more affordable filmmaking and it’s good to see successors from Canon, such as the 5D Mark IV and 1DX Mark II, still flying the flag for the brand, with the latest DSLR models from Sony and Nikon giving them a run for their money. These days mirrorless models, such as Sony’s A7s Mark II and A9 and the remarkable Panasonic


GH5, are making big inroads into filmmaking territory, while action cams offer an alternative for those with the most demanding assignments in mind. And then there’s the tantalising market for VR and 360 filmmaking opening up, with specialist gear from the likes of Kodak, YI and Samsung starting to find favour with a professional audience. Camcorders still have a lot to offer the professional, and we’ve seen some great launches in recent months from the likes of JVC, Panasonic and Sony, with Canon’s XC15 being promoted as

RIGHT AND BELOW Cameras are at the heart of moviemaking. Which of those shortlisted will take a podium place?

the ideal B camera for the C300 Mark II. However, it’s the top-ofthe-range cinema cameras that have really hogged the limelight, and in the past year we’ve seen some outstanding launches. Canon has unveiled its mouthwatering new C200, while Sony’s FS5 and FS7 Mark II siblings have made serious inroads into the market. Meanwhile, RED has launched its most affordable cinema camera yet while Blackmagic continues to offer astonishing value and quality in its Ursa line-up. It’s been quite a year, and now it’s time to vote for your highlights!


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SHORTLIST SLR Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Canon EOS 1DX Mark II Nikon D5 Sony A99 Mark II Mirrorless Sony A7s Mark II Fuji XT-2 Sony A9 Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Panasonic GH5 Action cam/VR/Speciality Nikon Keymission 360 Kodak PixPro GoPro Hero5 YI 4k Actioncam Samsung Gear 360 Camcorder JVC GY-HM200E Panasonic HC-X1 Sony AX1 Canon XC15 Cinema camera Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro Canon C200 Red Raven Panasonic VariCam LT Sony FS7 Mark II Sony FS5 Camera for rental Arri Alexa SXT Plus Red Weapon Helium Canon C300 Mark II Sony FS7 Mark II


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Welcome the Game Changers! Fujifilm’s dynamic new MK optical duo is shaking up the world of filmmaking and enabling a fresh generation to explore the considerable advantages of dedicated cinema lenses


hen the door to professional filmmaking was thrown open following the development of HD-enabled large sensored DSLR cameras, it was like photographers had been given the keys to the best sweet shop in town. Suddenly here was an affordable opportunity to shoot highquality full-frame footage that would satisfy professional clients, and for a while that was enough. Sure, you might have to work harder and use a few accessories to make the cameras more useable, but it was all so new and exciting that hardly anyone seemed to care. At that time the logical way to work was with still lenses, because that was what most of this new audience had. Like the cameras, they weren’t designed specifically for the job but they were useable, capable of decent results, and the new breed of crossover filmmaker was prepared to put up with the inevitable foibles. Besides, dedicated cinema optics came with sky high price tags, and no one was confident enough about the future to consider such a serious investment.


Fast-forward to the present and the landscape has changed beyond recognition. Now there are very few photographers who can’t conceive of ever shooting moving footage for a client. Meanwhile there’s a new generation of serious filmmakers that have never been still photographers, enticed into this sector because it’s fast moving and exciting and the barrier to entry, previously enforced by the cost of product, has been lowered considerably. The new kids on the block are fired up by the chance to make movies, and they’re not in the mood to make compromises. This, then, is the background to the emergence of the cinema lens in its own right, and for those who are serious about what they’re doing there is no alternative. If you’re making films for the fun of it then it can be all about keeping costs down, perfectly understandably. If, however, you’re making movies commercially and have a demanding client then you need to be working with tools designed for the job, which is where Fujifilm’s new MK cine lenses come in.

“These stunning new optics tap into the rich heritage of Fujinon lenses” Dedicated duo Carrying a price tag that’s a fraction of what cinema lenses used to cost, the MK18-55mm T2.9 and MK50-135mm T2.9 together cover the most commonly used range of focal lengths, plus they’re compact and lightweight, yet still built to cope with all the rigours of a professional lifestyle. They’re also optically superb, as might be expected from a company with an impeccable heritage in filmmaking. They come with all the attributes that are in the DNA of cinema lenses: standardised size and weight to ensure a rapid changeover of optics in the field; the same maximum T-stop, which remains consistent throughout the zoom range;


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SPECIFICATIONS FUJINON MK18-55mm T2.9 Lens mount E-mount Focal length 18-55mm F/stop f/2.75 T-stop T2.9 Image size 24.84x13.97mm Minimum object distance (MOD) 0.85m/2ft 9in
(with macro function 0.38m/1ft 2.9in) Object dimensions at MOD (HxV) 16:9 aspect ratio 18mm: 924x520mm; 55mm: 291x164mm Angle of view (HxV) 16:9 aspect ratio 18mm: 69.2x42.4°; 55mm: 25.5x14.5° Iris blades 9 Filter diameter 82mm Dimensions (DxL) 85x206.3mm Weight (approx.) 980g

shared 85mm front diameter and 82mm filter diameter; and gear rings in the same positions to make sure that all accessories fit both lenses perfectly. Then there’s the classic things that a cinema lens can do that would defeat a conventional photographic lens. The iris ring, for example, features a seamless mechanism that allows great precision when adjusting exposure, while also doing away with the noise and obvious exposure changes that occur with a clicking mechanism. There’s also a 200° focus rotation angle, more than double that of a conventional photographic lens, allowing the camera operator to focus on images and shallow depth-of-field, where high accuracy is required. Manual control is the name of the game, as is common practice in the filmmaking business, and accordingly three independently operated mechanical lens rings are provided for focus, zoom and iris. Another benefit of the MK lenses is a standardised 0.8M gear pitch for each of these three rings – the same as on all Fujinon cine lenses – so that you can

share follow focus and other standard cine accessories. Another link with the highly regarded existing family of Fujinon cine lenses is the consistency of colour, simplifying colour grading if you’re working with multiple lenses. Another huge benefit of the MK cine lenses is the lack of focus shift throughout zooming, since the front focus and zoom groups are driven independently. Since MK lenses suppress focus shifts optically and mechanically, this set-up also eliminates the time lag you get with automatic controls. Likewise focus breathing, where there’s an unnatural change in the angle of view as you focus, akin to zooming, is suppressed in the MK duo. This in turn allows you smooth and comfortable focusing during dramatically important scenes. One more benefit of this finely balanced optical set-up is the suppression of optical axis shifts, where the lens can skew off centre from the subject during zooming. Proven assembly technologies, honed during the production of previous Fujinon cine lenses, allows this issue to become a thing of the past.

FUJINON MK50-135mm T2.9 Lens mount E-mount Focal length 50-135mm F/stop f/2.75 T-stop T2.9 Image size 24.84x13.97mm Minimum object distance (MOD) 1.2m/3ft 11in (with macro function 0.85m/2ft 9in) Object dimensions at MOD (HxV) 16:9 aspect ratio 50mm: 534x300mm; 135mm: 196x110mm Angle of view (HxV) 16:9 aspect ratio 50mm: 27.9x15.9°; 135mm: 10.5x5.9° Iris blades 9 Filter diameter 82mm Dimensions (DxL) 87x206.3mm Weight (approx.) 980g

All of this is wrapped up in a compact and lightweight body, thanks to Super 35mm sensor compatibility and a dedicated E-mount design. This portability is ideal for solo operation and run-and-gun shooting, where mobility is all important. It also means that these lenses can be packed and flown with as hand luggage. These stunning new optics tap into the rich heritage of Fujinon lenses, which stretches back to cinematography’s past. Trusted by a host of top filmmakers, the MK series now brings this kind of quality within the reach of a new generation.


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It’s not just as simple as plugging in a Raw-capable camera to your current workflow WORDS ADAM DUCKWORTH

Loads of codecs to choose from, 4K with fast frame rate, superhigh bit rates and, what’s often deemed to be the holy grail, recording in Raw format. These are some of the huge benefits of shooting the latest crop of largechip cinema cameras. But it’s not as simple as just plug-and-play, and if you’ve been used to DSLR or mirrorless cameras, shooting with baked-in profiles from the camera manufacturer that need few tweaks in post, then there is a huge learning curve. And potentially significant extra cost in computing and storage power. If you plan to shoot Raw, then get ready for some serious changes to your workflow. You will need monster-size memory cards or SSDs, and a computer with the heft to process the images. Or else it will feel as if you’ve gone back a decade in time, bringing back memories of waiting for your computer to ingest DV tape footage overnight. You certainly don’t want to be in a faraway land, up against a news deadline, waiting an age for your laptop to try to process a terabyte


of Raw footage in order to make a short edit. Raw takes a huge amount of space on your hard drive and on memory cards or SSDs, which you need to budget for in terms of time and money. You can easily fill up a 250GB SSD out of camera in less than ten minutes recording, for example. Canon’s new ‘light’ Raw format may be smaller, but shooting 4K Raw internally fills a 128GB CFast 2.0 card in 15 minutes in the new C200. A card that size currently costs about £365/$349. Then you’ve got to transfer it to your computer hard drive and process it. CFast2.0 cards aren’t cheap, and neither are the SSDs that some recording devices use. If you are outputting Raw, or even using an external monitor to record it for you and convert it into less memory-hungry formats, like ProRes, then it still takes up a huge amount of room. And outputting Raw, even if it’s coded into another format for editing, often limits you hugely in your camera settings. You may be limited to a specific single Log profile, which often limits your ability to select the ISO or custom white balance you would choose if shooting in normal HD or 4K internally. And it definitely means you will spend more time in post, not only converting the Log footage to something viewable on most screens, like Rec.709, but by Raw often bypassing the camera’s internal noise reduction. This means you will need to add some of your own, which is an extra step in post-processing.

“If you plan to shoot Raw, get ready for serious workflow changes”

FAR LEFT Affordable kit like BlackMagic’s Ursa Mini have opened up the world of cinema cameras.



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A CHANGING MARKET And learning to expose the Log footage in the first place can also be a headache, with applying LUTs or gamma-assist modes to your viewfinder essential if you don’t want to end up looking at a very washed-out scene that bears little resemblance to what you see in front of you. Of course, the finished quality is better, as long as you know what you are doing. Shooting Raw or converting Raw from the camera to ProRes formats for editing is not the simple plugand-play solution that camera manufacturers may want you to believe it is. You have to invest money on kit or software and time to learn how to do it well.

WHY NOT JUST USE A DSLR OR MIRRORLESS CAMERA? Mirrorless cameras or DSLRs may be designed for shooting stills, but many are heavily focused towards shooting video too - such as the Sony A7 series or Panasonic GH5. Many shoot 4K, have fast frame rates for slow motion, decent autofocus, and in-body image stabilisation. There are lots of interchangeable, fast lenses available, and some even have incredible 10-bit 4:2:2 recording for amazing quality. So they’re good in low light and you can do very shallow depth-of-field for a cinematic look. They are also smaller and in many cases cheaper than cinema cameras. But they have their drawbacks, compared to the latest breed of dedicated cinema cameras with Super 35-size sensors, which is roughly the same as APS-C in stills cameras. A cinema camera has the ergonomics for all-day shooting, doesn’t need extra rigs and the like to make it workable and, crucially, has pro-level XLR inputs for proper audio recording. Built-in mics on camcorders are better as they are not just crammed into a tiny space on the camera, there are more channels of audio available to record on and they have proper mic holders, as well as recording levels controlled by external dials rather than using in-camera menus. The screens are frequently better, and they have lots of different input and output connectors, often the ability to stream footage, and using them for manual focus can be easier thanks to peaking that can be fine tuned. They also have built-in ND filters, flip-out screens, a top handle for ease of carrying, the ability to change exposure or zoom smoothly, and no limits as to how long you can record for. CSCs are known for overheating and shutting down. This is because their

bodies are so small that there’s little room for manufacturers to squeeze in a decent heatsink. And then there’s the image quality. While virtually all DSLRs are limited to 8-bit footage and often have a limited range of codecs and picture profiles, this is where the far more professional cinema cameras excel. With 10 and 12-bit footage in 4:2:2, sensors that record in excess of 4K, the ability to record Raw right off the sensor, ridiculously high frame rates like 240fps or even 960fps at smaller file sizes, they are the most obvious choice for the filmmaker who is serious about his work. Of course, sending out this message, may or may not be what you want, depending on the shooting scenario. And with a Canon EOS-1D X DSLR, a rig to make it usable, an audio mixer/input device and a loupe or external monitor costing as much as a ready-to-go professional cinema camera, then it’s easy to see why large-chip cameras are making a huge impact in the market.



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If you’ve had enough of sitting around and waiting to be commissioned why not turn things around and focus on selling films that you’ve already made? Here’s how it can be done WORDS TERRY HOPE


he life of the freelancer is notoriously precarious and getting more so by the minute, thanks to a combination of stifling legislation, amateurs who are happy to work for free and a general reluctance to pay realistic fees. The best will always thrive of course, but if you’re waiting for commissions you do, by necessity, have to take what’s given to you. And you’re just as likely to find yourself making a film about a dry as dust presentation as you are to be handed a job that you find creatively, as well as financially, rewarding. But what if you could turn this scenario around and, instead of sitting there waiting for someone to tell you what your next project is going to be, you actually make that decision yourself, choose your own projects and then sell them on or use them as the basis to generate an income? We’re not talking about a vanity exercise here, where you make a film that’s good for your soul but has no commercial collateral. Rather, this is all about anticipating where your market will be and then creating a production that will tick the boxes and be financially successful. One of the most popular routes to market for self-made films is YouTube and there are many different ways to build a relationship with this outlet. Here are a couple of points of entry that have proved highly successful over the past few years, for both experienced and first time filmmakers. The vlogger The proliferation of the Internet and increased bandwidths have combined to create the opening for a role that never previously existed, that of the vlogger, who posts regular short films that can be on a variety of subjects. There are those with specialisations – anything from gardening through to photography or interior design - that post about their area of interest, and in the process they build a profile and boost their credibility. This in turn acts as a marketing tool and attracts clients that want to tap into this perceived expertise and, if done well, with strong content, charismatic presentation and first class production values, it’s one of the best forms of promotion there is. However, in these fast changing times it’s not all about marketing, and many of those putting films online are making their income through the number of views they’re attracting, with YouTube channels being a potentially lucrative way to go. The arrival of the full time vlogger has created a number of online superstars with huge followings, ensuring stellar incomes and a host of major multinationals lining up to book


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THE AGENTS OF VR! Agencies such as Blend Media are exploring the commercial benefits of evolving 360° technology WORDS TERRY HOPE




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veryone seems to be aware of the emerging 360° and VR markets, but many imagine these technologies are still very much in their infancy and have little to offer in terms of commercial potential. But forward-thinking businesses such as Blend Media, led by founder and CEO Damian Collier, are challenging that concept and proving that the future is, indeed, here already – and has plenty to offer the professional filmmaker prepared to take a leap of faith. Damian has form in spotting trends: having previously set up the Viral Spiral agency in 2011, whose aim was to connect brands, creative agencies, production companies and publishers with the world’s most viewed and shared social video content/influencers. When that business was acquired in 2014, Damian started looking for a fresh opportunity, and it was at this point he noticed just how vibrant the whole 360° and VR market was becoming. By applying some of the thinking behind his original business to the new

technology, the concept for Blend Media was reached. The idea was to approach the same market that had warmed to social influencers with the news that a new, more immersive type of filmmaking was on its way, and the response to date has been phenomenal. “I’ve been involved in video for many years,” says Damian, “and the move towards 360° is not as big a revolution as VR, but it’s more an evolution of filmmaking. It breaks away from the letterbox format and gives the viewer the option to look around, and that’s a big step forward. A lot of people now are very interested in working with it but maybe aren’t quite sure how to get involved, and the role of Blend Media is to help them to take that step.”

“There’s little doubt the market is ripe for VR and 360°”

There’s little doubt that the market is now ripe for VR and 360° filmmaking, with big guns such as YouTube, Apple TV, Facebook, Sky and even a traditional outlet such as the BBC starting to invest heavily and take this whole area very seriously indeed. And while there is undoubtedly some traction in the fact that many people are seeing these formats for the first time, there’s much more to these emerging genres than mere novelty value. Engagement and click-through rates for these new formats are way above those for conventional films, and this has ensured that clients are currently queueing up, taking a keen commercial interest. It’s also interesting to note that around 80% of the material currently being produced for the burgeoning 360° market in particular is designed to be accessed through the medium of a smartphone or a tablet rather than a pair of VR goggles. This means that the potential viewing audience is there already – and it’s seemingly desperate to be engaged by inspiring content.



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CAPTURING THE FILMIC LOOK Adding a stylised look to your neutral footage can really increase the production values of your film

If there’s one thing that all successful Hollywood films have in common it is that they don’t have a totally 100% neutral, digitised look. A look that to many screams ‘video’. Some movies are still shot on film, on stock carefully chosen to fit in with the director’s vision. But most are now shot digitally then graded to a particular colour palette to give a certain look and feel. And, in some cases, to emulate the look of old film stock. To do this to your footage can be as labour-intensive as spending hours playing with colours,


saturation, exposure and noise – like professional colourists do. Then carefully applying it to each shot in the movie, tweaking as you go to make sure it all works together as a cohesive production. After all, a shot on a tropical beach at midday won’t need exactly the same colour work as a shot in a nightclub at midnight, yet they should all have a similar stylistic treatment. Perhaps the easiest way is to apply a LUT, or Look-up table, to your work. This gives an instant change to the appearance and

ABOVE If you want to upgrade the colour correction capabilities of Final Cut Pro X with things like LUT utility and Colour Wheels, plug-ins like Color FInale Pro do it.

feel of your footage, but can be limited as there is often not a huge amount of control available. Many people sell their own LUTs to give a whole variety of different looks so there may be one to suit your film. But a better way is to use a plug-in to your NLE workflow that gives you a choice of looks, lets you fully customise and tweak them, then save them as your own and apply them to your films when you need them. One such plug-in is FilmConvert, available as a standalone programme or as a plug-in



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“Many people sell their own LUTs to give a whole variety of different looks so there may be one to suit your film” for Final Cut Pro, Premier Pro, After Effects, DaVinci Resolve, Avid Media Composer and more. Each stand-alone version is £114/$149, or you can buy them all in a bundle for £190/$249. You can also download specific camera profiles, for everything from Arri Alexa to Sony FS5, FS7, A7s, Panasonic GH4, Go Pro action cameras and even consumer DSLRs like the Nikon D7000. Some newer cameras like Sony’s A9 aren’t supported yet. The FilmConvert application loads like an Effect in Final Cut, and you drag it onto your clip. You can select one of the 18 looks that emulates film, such as Fuji or Kodak motion picture colour negative stock, a variety of mono and colour negative stills photography stock, colour positive and Fuji Velvia, Astia and Provia photo transparancy stock. You can easily apply them to your clip and see the effect, which can then be tweaked in terms of exposure, colour temperature, grain size, saturation and more. You can

also generate a 3D LUT to apply to compatible equipment so you can see the effect on your monitor as you’re filming. The effect is easy to apply and customise and offers a very realistic filmic look, although having so few standard looks to choose from might actually limit you a little if you’re looking for something totally stylised. But you can always modify it and make it your own.

ABOVE Choosing a whole new look for your footage is a simple as picking the one you like, using plug-ins like Color Finale Pro. BELOW If you want to get as close as you can to a genuine look of a movie shot on film, FilmConvert is an easy way to do it.

If you don’t want to go out of an NLE such as Final Cut Pro yet want levels of colour control given by the likes of DaVinci Resolve, then Color Finale Pro could be an ideal all-in-one solution. It also includes support for Auto colour balance via the X-Rite Color Checker Passport plus full LUT support. Costing £229/$299 for the Pro version, it is installed as an Effect in Final Cut and then you drag it onto the clip in your timeline. This opens up a floating window, from which you can make adjustments. As with Resolve, there is an Auto colour calibration feature but it only works with the X-Rite Color Checker Passport. And it works very well, too. After this, you have a full set of colour adjustments via wheels or sliders. You can adjust colour, exposure and white balance using an eyedropper, and a mix of curves, HSL curves and vectors, plus there’s a LUT utility to apply LUTs and alter them. You can save these as presets to apply to any of your other footage. The difference is that the grading is done on different layers, so you can alter each layer individually to fine-tune your work endlessly. It’s a fully professional plug-in that gives Final Cut Pro the same sort of industry-standard colour control you get in DaVinci Resolve. But you have to know what you’re doing to get the best out of it.



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MOBILE Smartphone filmmaking is now a professional option, with a wide range of accessories available and the potential for a high-end result WORDS TERRY HOPE


t’s amazing to stop and consider how the business of making movies has fundamentally moved on in recent years. The bar to entry into the profession continues to lower as kit becomes available that can do an outstanding job for a remarkably affordable price, and nowhere has this been felt more keenly than in the world of mobile filmmaking. The option to shoot footage on a phone has been around for a while, but initially it was very much a feature aimed at the consumer and quality thresholds were decidedly low. The new generation of smartphones has, however, totally changed the landscape, and with the ability to output high-res film has come an opportunity to work in a way that’s both liberating and highly cost-effective. We’re not just talking about shooting the odd clip here and there either: there are an increasing number of businesses around that are now looking seriously at whether a mobile approach could potentially be the basis for their entire way of working. First off, let’s have a quick run through of some of the pros and cons that come with the territory. On the downside the basic smartphone was never designed to be a fully specced-up professional piece of filmmaking equipment, much in the way that a Canon 5D Mark II needed considerable help to do a job for which it was never truly intended. So if you’re looking to work with a smartphone, you’re going to need a range of accessories to help you get the most out of it, but this in turn highlights a definite pro in that these tend to be keenly priced, so won’t break the bank.


You need nimble fingers to work a smartphone, but today’s mobile generation knows all about this. There’s also a danger that the perception one has of someone shooting footage with a phone might be to consider that they’re not particularly serious about what they’re doing, but times are changing, plus a fully rigged-up phone can actually look quite impressive. But it’s still a point that a client might baulk a little at the fact that you’re charging a professional rate while working with a piece of kit that, in their eyes, looks suspiciously like the phone they happen to have in their own back pocket. So to the pros, and these are quite considerable. For a start, the quality of the footage that an iPhone 6 or 7 or a Samsung Galaxy 7 or 8 can output is outstandingly good, and if you haven’t viewed footage from these devices yet then you could be in for a surprise. In short, smartphone footage is not a compromise: it might not impress those more used to working with REDs and Arris perhaps, but for a large percentage of clients it will be more than acceptable, certainly if the end use involves embedding the final footage on a website. Then consider the convenience of working with a smartphone. Compared to a conventional camera, they’re tiny and ultra portable, and even a full kit can be carried easily in a bag that’s compact enough to be taken on trips as hand baggage. And of course they also come with ease of communication built in, so it’s easy to share and upload footage. They’re now everyday items that many of us use so the chances are

ABOVE The informal nature of a smartphone can encourage a more relaxed performance from those in from of camera. Pic: Giovanni Gallucci.

“You’ll need a host of accessories to get the most out of a smartphone” that you’ll feel comfortable working with one, while filmmakers report that they’re less intimidating so you could end up getting a more relaxed performance from the person you happen to be interviewing. Those who are warming to the whole mobile filmmaking experience include documentary makers, who love the idea that they’re now free to travel anywhere in the world without having to take the kitchen sink with them, through to a new generation of filmmakers who would never have considered moving into the genre in the first place had they had to work with conventional cameras.



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MOBILE PHONES FOR PROFIT Ease of working One of those that has discovered the flexibility and the opportunity to make a healthy income that the smartphone offers is awardwinning content creator and SEO marketer Giovanni Gallucci, who went from an exclusively Canon DSLR kit over to Fuji CSCs and then on to an iPhone rig. “With contemporary SEO and audience building, video and photography have become key,” he says. “Six to eight years ago, the marketing world screamed out that content is king, but they were referring to text-based content. Today you can build a brand using just visuals and without giving up SEO if you know how to inject relevant text and metadata descriptions, hashtags, tags, location-based data and so on. It’s important to be using original visual content because customers learn to identify you by your visuals. Because of that, you can’t use stock visuals these days: people recognise it and don’t respond well.” Giovanni very much sees his move over to mobile filmmaking as one that has complemented his approach. “For me things had reached the point where the Canon cameras I was using were so good that the images were in danger of losing their soul. There was also a question of workflow: I would shoot for 12 hours, go back to my hotel room, spend another hour and a half downloading, selecting and editing and then push footage out. Now I can be out in the field, and edit and publish directly to Facebook and Instagram in 15-20 minutes.

LEFT This Giovanni Gallucci set up is based around a Helium Core rig with iPhone 6s. a Cinetics CineMoco dolly and a Giottos Ball Head MH1002-310.



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Drone legislation is changing apace, both in the US and UK, and those who are looking to offer drone filming services within their businesses will need to keep up to speed on safety and registering their drones if they are to fly legally. WORDS TERRY HOPE

Licensed to fly Every time some idiot flies a drone somewhere they shouldn’t or blatantly breaks the rules and threatens the safety of the public you can almost hear the sound of conscientious and law abiding drone pilots slapping their heads in frustration. For every bad headline there’s the threat of a reaction, and in the wake of several reported ‘near misses’ the inevitable crackdown has followed. The FAA in the US imposed a code of conduct and mandatory registration for drone operators last year and now the CAA in the UK has followed suite. The irony of all this is that those who make their living flying drones are almost certainly not the ones creating the problems, since they know the rules and have had to acquire a licence for the right to offer a commercial service. The cowboys, as always, ruin it for everyone, and in order to rein them in everyone is going to have to work a little harder to earn the right to fly. What concerns legitimate pilots, however, is the possibility of a knee-jerk reaction from governments, imposing inappropriately draconian measures that may still be flouted by rogue operators. Commercial drone pilots in the UK are still getting their heads around the announcement in July that the government plans to introduce mandatory registration for all those owning a drone weighing more than 250g/8oz. Owners will also be expected to pass a safety awareness course to prove that ‘they understand UK safety, security and privacy regulations’. There are also plans to


RIGHT Soon, registration of drones weighing more than 250g/8oz could be mandatory for owners.

extend the use of geo-fencing, in which drones have no-fly zones programmed into them around areas such as prisons and airports. The Department for Transport has said that it does not yet have a time frame for changes, and has admitted that ‘the nuts and bolts still have to be ironed out’. Given the somewhat vague nature of the announcement and the timing of changes it’s been difficult for those flying drones commercially to judge their response to the proposals. However, Alan Proto, the proprietor of the PhantomFlightSchool and a prominent commentator on the drone industry, has gone through the 65-page government report that accompanied the announcement, and has given a cautious welcome to the current state of affairs. “There’s little doubt that it will affect those that are looking to fly drones

commercially,” he says. “The system the Government favours is one where registration is mandatory, and there will be penalties for not registering, although how they will spot offenders is anyone’s guess. The Government also favours this being an operator-centric, rather than a drone-centric registration process, so it’s likely to affect anyone who flies a drone not just new purchasers of drones.” Alan anticipates that the mandatory new test will not be difficult to pass and registration should be low cost: maybe about £5/$6.50. It’s an extra burden on those who are looking to fly, but the fact is that those involved with a commercial business already have to go through a stringent training course and exam, so the much less onerous mandatory test shouldn’t be more than a minor inconvenience. On the other hand, there’s a chance that some of the less safety


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“Every time some idiot flies a drone where they shouldn’t and threatens public safety, you can almost hear the sound of law-abiding drone pilots slapping their heads in frustration”

conscious fliers might be deterred from making the effort. “Overall, I welcome what I see as a sensible, well balanced report from the Government, which follows a sensible, well-run, and balanced public consultation,” says Alan. “Our assessment is that anything that contributes to the safe flying of drones, and reduces the risk of an accident leading to injury or even loss of life is to be welcomed. Introducing new rules before anything bad has happened has got to be better than a knee-jerk reaction afterwards. “As well as enhancing drone safety, the introduction of registration and safety awareness testing should reassure members of the public that we drone pilots are responsible people who know what we are doing. Once again, that’s a good thing. We think the proposals do a good job of protecting the future of the drone sector in the UK. Not by stopping the ‘crazies’ who will simply ignore the registration process, but by enhancing the respectability and law-abiding nature of the other 99% of drone pilots. “The key conclusion of the accompanying Mid-Air Collision report is also very good news, namely that a drone the size and weight of a Phantom would most likely ‘bounce off’ a commercial airliner. So, the risk of mass casualties from a mid-air collision appears remote.


After a period of confusion, during which drone pilots effectively had to have similar qualifications to those flying a full-size plane, the FAA in the US last summer unveiled ‘Part 107,’ a set of rules requiring drone operators to acquire a scaled-down licence, based on a knowledge test. Although it removed some of the more onerous requirements for those wishing to fly drones commercially, it introduced elements, such as mandatory registration of drones, that applied to both enthusiasts and commercial pilots. That blanket requirement has now been dropped following a lawsuit brought by a model aircraft enthusiast, the court ruling that the FAA’s drone registration rules were in violation of a law passed by Congress in 2012. Now, if a person buys a new drone to fly for fun, they no longer have to register that aircraft with the FAA, but those flying for commercial purposes still do. There are those such as US drone expert Jonathan Rupprecht who question whether other methods might have a better result.

However, another report conclusion is that a Phantom/helicopter collision could be very serious, and could lead to the helicopter crashing. While this would be terrible, and is a key reason why safety awareness training will be mandatory, I don’t believe it would lead to a switch away from the drone-friendly policies being promoted currently by the Government. After all, the Shoreham Air Show crash was a terrible thing, but didn’t lead to air shows in general being banned.” Alan noted that the UK Government appeared to be acknowledging that electronic tagging of drones, while a major goal for the future, remains some years away. So, in theory, for now, anyone could buy a drone, fail to register it, and then fly it in a dangerous manner in places they shouldn’t from a considerable distance away. “In practice, one has to wonder how much of an impact the new rules will have on anyone intent on flying dangerously,” says Alan. “Does anyone spending £75 on a drone weighing more than 250gm want the hassle of registering it and completing a safety awareness test? I dare say that many people in this category will simply fail to register it. Overall, however, I welcome these changes, and expect there to be more to come.”

“A drone sucked into a jet engine is going to be all over the place,” he points out. “Are you going to require metal placards attached to the drone? Furthermore, it’s easy to scratch off a serial number. Is possession of a drone with a scratched-off serial number going to become illegal? How is drone registration going to stop, actually prevent, the incident/crime/accident? “If there is a crash, are you really going to find the small piece of plastic that had the ‘sharpie-drawn’ N-number on it, the mailbox number stickers, or the serial barcode sticker under the gimbal? The only counter to this is taglets mixed in the plastic matched up with laser-etched numbers on the critical parts, such as motors, that would likely survive a crash. “Simple registration is useless unless this is a comprehensive manufacturerbacked plan. What if DJI requires registration but Yuneec doesn’t? I’m not ruling out the registration idea but geo-fencing would have better results.”


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Sigma’s fast zoom could be the lens to replace a trio of prime lenses WORDS ADAM DUCKWORTH


here are two ways of looking at the new Sigma 18-35mm zoom lens. If you’re of a critical disposition, you could write it off for serious filmmaking use as it’s based on the lens technology gleaned from stills photo lenses; Sigma isn’t a brand wellknown to moviemakers; it’s not guaranteed to be 100% parfocal or free of focus breathing; and at just 35mm at the long end, it’s doesn’t cover a huge range of focal lengths. At around four grand, it’s not cheap and it’s certainly no superlightweight, especially as it doesn’t cover full-frame sensors. If you’re inclined to think this way, there are more expensive options from the likes of Cooke and Zeiss. Alternatively, with its super-fast T2 maximum aperture, you could consider the new Sigma to not have any competition, and a lens that could become the new standard for the independent filmmaker at an acheiveable cost. It may not be the lightest lens in the bag, but with such a fast aperture it could easily replace 18mm, 24mm and 35mm cine primes at a fraction of the bulk, weight and certainly price. And although it’s not ideal for full-frame cameras, it’s perfectly at home on the vast majority of large-frame Super35 cinema cameras. Of course, it can be used on small-bodied, fullframe cameras but they’d have to be set to crop-sensor mode which is no


deal-breaker. Although its weight makes things a bit front-heavy. And although Sigma might not be the most famous name in cine glass, in recent years it has made a great name for itself with its Artbranded, high-end stills lenses. This success in premium lens-making technology has driven the move into the cine market, but rather than just rehousing its stills lenses, the company has studied what serious filmmakers need and built lenses specifically for them. As well as the 18-35mm, there’s the 50-100mm T2 zoom that we tested in the last issue, plus a 24-35mm T2.2 zoom that will cover full-frame sensors. Sigma also has a full set of matched fast primes lenses. All these are fullframe and have a T1.5 maximum aperture, apart from the 14mm and 135mm which are both T2. That shows just how serious Sigma is.

“Images are very sharp with a pleasing roll-off from in-focus to out-of-focus areas” SPECIFICATIONS Price: £3899/$3999 Focal length: 18-35mm Mount: Sony E, Canon EF, PL Image coverage: Super35 Construction: 17 elements in 12 groups Aperture range: T2-16 BELOW Sigma might not be an established name in moviemaking, but its 18-35mm T2 zoom is a serious contender.

Iris blades: 9 rounded Focus rotation: 180° Zoom rotation: 160° Iris rotation: 60° Filter thread: 82mm Front diameter: 95mm Close focus: 280mm/11in Dimension (LxD): 129.5x104mm/5.1x4.1in Weight: 1455g/3.2lb


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SIGMA 18-35MM T2.0 ZOOM The nitty-gritty The Sigma 18-35mm T2.0 is a quality piece of kit, from its luminous lens markings to its solid, all-metal construction. The mount is precise and slop-free, even when used with a lens converter. We used Sigma’s own MC11 to use the Canon fit version with a variety of Sony bodies and there was no play or backfocus adjustment necessary. This Canon EF mount version has electronic contacts so the lens can be fully controlled from the camera body and all EXIF data recorded, and Sigma’s own MC11 Canon-to-Sony converter also cleverly translates these for use on Sony cameras. Many aftermarket converters aren’t that clever, though. The lens has standard 0.8M gear rings, with an 82mm filter size and front diameter of 95mm, matching the 50-100mm lens to make switching between the two faster and easier. Just like its big brother, the all-mechanical focus ring has 180° of rotation and has a very smooth quality feel that’s a world apart from any DSLR lens. If you’ve come from using DSLR lenses, the throw is huge and takes some getting used to initially. The zoom ring’s rotation is 160°, and the clickless iris has a 60° throw – just like the 50-100mm lens.

BELOW In use on a Sony body, the Sigma 18-35mm T2 proved its worth as an allrounder.

Of course, all this counts for nothing if optical performance isn’t up to scratch, but the Sigma 1855mm delivers with a very similar look and feel to the 50-150mm lens. With 17 lens elements in 12 groups, the images are very sharp with a pleasing roll-off from in-focus to out-of-focus areas. But it’s not so sharp so as to look clinical and sterile. The centre is especially sharp, but the edges aren’t far behind. The images are pleasingly contrasty with no real colour fringing anywhere. Of course there is some softening and vignetting, especially at the edges, when shooting wide open at T2.0, as you’d expect. By T2.8, the image gets very even, right through the aperture range until you get fully stopped down when there is some diffraction to soften the image slightly. But it’s nothing the vast majority of users would ever notice unless shooting lens test charts. At the widest settings there is a very small amount of barrel distortion but this disappears as you zoom in past 21mm. The nine rounded aperture blades

give a pleasing bokeh that’s very close to being round, and there is no huge change in bokeh as you go through the zoom range. Of course, being a relatively wide lens, you’re not going to get wafer-thin depthof-field and amazing bokeh. The flare is particularly pleasing, and there is a slight amount of focus breathing, but not so much that it affects your shots too much. And the lens isn’t 100% parfocal, as Sigma admits. As you zoom in, the focus can change slightly but most times it’s not noticeable at all. Just something to bear in mind if you’re shooting wide open at T2 and zooming from fully out to fully in at very close focus distances. Which in reality is not very often at all. And on the subject of close focus, at a minimum focus distance of 280mm/11in, it’s respectable but no replacement for a macro lens if you need to get really close. So it’s fair to say it’s no dedicated macro lens, or super-fast prime, or mega-expensive cine zoom. But the Sigma 18-35mm does a very good job of being a fantastic all-round lens with very few compromises.

THE VERDICT Any zoom lens is always a compromise in some ways. You can’t break the laws of physics and get ultra-fast maximum aperture, zero distortion, a total lack of focus breathing, a total parfocal lens all in one light and affordable package. But this Sigma comes pretty close to it in the majority of cases. With its fast T2.0 aperture, it can replace a set of fast primes with a shallow depthof-field and image quality that comes very close – certainly in real-world use. The images are crisp and contrasty without being too clinical, the lens controls flare well and produces pleasing flare when pushed, has smooth bokeh, very little aberration or vignetting and is so close to being parfocal and free of focus breathing that the vast majority of users will never notice it. In the real world, the Sigma 18-35mm T2.0 is a fast, useful and well-built lens that could

become a very useful standard zoom lens for many filmmakers who don’t want to compromise on image quality.

More information HOW IT RATES Features: 8 All-mechanical cinema zoom but no back focus adjustment Performance: 9 Sharp and contrasty images with just a little focus breathing Handling: 9 Just the right size with welldamped control rings Value for money: 9 Not cheap but can replace a set of primes PRO MOVIEMAKER OVERALL RATING: 8 Could become the new standard in fast zoom lenses! Pros: Well built, great quality images Cons: Some focus breathing


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DUAL PURPOSE LIGHTS We take a look at lights than can be used for shooting video as well as stills to see if they could be the ultimate do-it-all solution WORDS ADAM DUCKWORTH


f you’re just shooting video projects, then continuous lights are the only way to go. But if, like many imagemakers nowadays, you are required to shoot moving footage as well as stills, then lighting becomes far more of a problem. Of course, you can just light the scene with your continuous kit, and then shoot stills at the same time. Potentially cranking up the ISO to get a decent shutter speed to avoid blur or an aperture small enough to ensure everything you need to be in focus is actually sharp. If you’re just shooting a few stills for social media or for a thumbnail cover image for a video to be hosted on Vimeo or YouTube, then you can often get away with it like this. But if your client wants really high-quality stills for use in magazines or press releases, then this might not be the way


to go. You’ll potentially need more light to shoot at lower ISO values for better quality, or even flash to really freeze the action and give you more flexibility on what you can do. But, of course, this means removing your continuous lights and putting up a second, separate set of flashes – complete with all their own power issues and range of modifiers. It takes significantly more time, it’s more kit to buy and transport, and can ruin the moment. Often, there just isn’t the time or budget to do this. But there may be alternative ways, by using just one lighting set-up that can be pressed into service for both stills and moving footage without huge compromises. We take a look at three different solutions, from three manufacturers, to see if there is a new solution for shooting stills and video with just one set of kit.


Rotolight’s AEOS is designed specifically for location filmmakers and portrait photographers with a unique combination of a portable bi-colour LED continuous light with a built-in high-speed flash function that has zero recycle time. Of course, it’s not as if it has traditional flash tubes that give a lightning-fast blitz of hugely powerful light, but the LEDs themselves flash with an instantaneous burst that can be easily set to sync with DSLR or mirrorless cameras which work at or under the regular flash sync speed. And if you use wireless triggers like Pocket Wizard FlexTT5s or Phottix Odins, that many photographers already own, the unit is capable of high-speed sync. There is a standard jack socket to plug the wireless receiver into the AEOS head. This flash function is very interesting, as it can open up creative possibilities and is easy to use. Plug in your wireless, then you enter the unit’s Flash mode using the two large dials on the rear of the unit. Unlike normal flashes, you can alter the power, modelling light, flash duration and colour temperature. The flash is at its brightest with the colour temperature set to 4200K, which is warmer than most flash output so may be a consideration for ultra critical work. Rotolight claims the flash output is boosted to 250% compared to the standard LED output, which essentially means you get slightly more than an extra stop of light. So, at about a metre away using ISO200, in continuous mode Rotolight


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GROUP TEST SPECIFICATIONS Beam angle: 50° Maximum output: 5750 lux at 0.9m/3ft Colour range: 3150-6300K Power source: 6-18V DC V-lock or Anton Bauer/100-240V AC Maximum Power Draw: 42W TLCI/CRI Rating: 91/>96 Remote Control: DMX Dimensions (WxHxD): 29.5cm x29.5cmx2cm/11.5inx11.5inx0.79in Weight: 1.4kg/3.09lb Included accessories: Full diffuser, half diffuser, cosmetic peach skin tone, 1/8 magenta gels, ball head

HOW IT RATES Features: 9/10 An LED light and a high speed flash Performance: 8/10 Flash power could be higher Handling: 9/10 Light, portable, easy to use Value for money: 9/10 Well-built kit that should last Overall rating: 9/10 Unique concept that works well Pros: Portability, flash function and price Cons: Flash mode doesn’t give a huge power hike

says the light output measures at f/8 while with flash it’s f/11. That’s roughly double the amount of light, and our tests show those figures are pretty accurate. At different settings, the increase is marginally different. A one-stop increase in exposure might not seem like much, but it will give an extra stop of shutter speed to freeze motion, one stop narrower aperture for increased depth-of-field, or you can move the light further away from the subject for more even coverage. And, of course, you can set your stills camera to its highest frame rate and shutter speed and machine gun away, as the light will easily keep up. But to focus on just the flash mode would be to miss out on the AEOS’ strengths as a location LED light for filmmaking. It weighs in at 1.4kg/3.09lb and the light panel itself is less than an inch thick. With the handles and plate to take batteries, it adds some size but the unit is still very portable. And those

handles are made so an assistant can really hold the light to get the right angle, thanks largely to the light weight of the unit. As it is so portable, instead of a traditional yoke the light comes with a very high-quality ball head to attach it to the top of a portable light stand. The light output is 5750 lux at three feet, but is so energy efficient it can run for three hours on a 95W battery. It also comes with a mains adapter but can use V-Lock or Anton Bauer batteries, too. The rear panel has an easy-to-read LED display that shows all the information you need, which is controlled via a pair of large control knobs that in normal operation alter the intensity and colour temperature of the light from 3150-6300K. The light output is well balanced for colour temperature right through the power range, and gives very pleasing skin tones. The circular shape of the light gives attractive catchlights in a subject’s eyes, too.

The AEOS also has a range of builtin effects such as settings to mimic lightning, fire and TV flicker. And it can be set for fade in or fade out for production effects. The size of the light means the output is not going to be particularly soft when used more than a metre or so away from a portrait subject, but the light does come with two diffusion filters – a cosmetic peach skin tone diffusion to warm the subject, and a magenta filter, so the light can be softened slightly. Rotolight also offers additional filter kits in a wider variety of colours, as well as barn doors, softboxes, rain covers, V-lock batteries, a custom padded bag and more. Coming in at a very reasonable £899/$995, it’s significantly cheaper than the other lights on test, is far more portable and offers a unique hybrid solution to lighting for stills and video at the same time.


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