GROUP TEST: AUDIO RECORDERS
Professional-quality sound from affordable devices
LOSE YOUR VR-GINITY!
Final Cut Pro makes 360 editing easy for beginners
SPRING 2018 £4.99 @ProMoviemaker
NOT DEAD YET!
How the DSLR could be the ideal tool for you
FROM PALMCORDERS TO MIRRORLESS AND A RED CINEMA CAM,
UHD IS THE NEW STANDARD ACTION STATIONS
Sony’s RX0 takes on GoPro and YI
Standard primes to suit all budgets
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Drone zone: Light from above Tested: Lenses, lights, VR camera, tripods and more Wildlife: Filming big cats in the UK! Business help: Advice from the experts
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OPINION by Adam Duckworth
FROM THE EDITOR
It feels good to be working on an issue with ‘Spring’ in the title, and we’ve already attended our first trade show of the year, in the form of the excellent BSC Expo, so it feels as though we’re rattling through the new year already! I always enjoy the buzz these events create, and the chance to hear first hand about everything that’s going on. As always, there’s plenty of new gear for us to take a look at, with reviews in this issue including cameras such as Canon’s latest XF405 4K UHD camcorder, boasting a 1.0-type CMOS sensor and 15x zoom. We’ve also got an eclectic selection of premium, budget and vintage 50mm lenses from the likes of Sigma, Samyang, Zeiss and Nikon, action cams from GoPro, Sony and YI and a group test of pro-spec audio recorders. On the feature front we’re profiling George Motz, whose love of the great American hamburger led him to produce an iconic film and to found a truly innovative food film festival in New York, while Richard Seymour tells us about his amazing exploits with a drone at dusk, that followed and illuminated a road racing cyclist. We’re also taking a look at the rental market and asking whether it’s possible to make cash from that gear that you might only be using on an irregular basis. Lots to catch up on then and I hope you enjoy the read!
TERRY HOPE, EDITOR
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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.
EXCUSE ME, I HAVE GAS
They call it GAS: Gear Acquisition Syndrome. The urge to buy the latest kit that you persuade yourself will transform your films. And actually, as most of us admit, it gives us a bit of a thrill to actually own. I know, because I have a bad case of GAS. The BSC Expo in London is a honeypot to a gearhead. With everything from helicopters to film from, truck-mounted extendable camera booms, massive drones, 8K full-frame cameras and anamorphic lenses, it’s a wonderful shop window for the very best our industry can make. Fine if you’re a big-time DoP looking for something new for your next blockbuster. But for a typical filmmaker, spending the sort of money on a camera and set of lenses that would buy a very nice house is just not on the cards. It’s easy to get a little disheartened knowing the latest kit is way out of reach. Which is why putting together this issue’s Buying Guide is a real antidote to mega-priced kit. For £3500, you can buy a complete kit with a full-frame mirrorless camera outputting to 4K to a monitor/recorder. With a lens, mic, tripod, LED light, 500GB SSD card, stabiliser and a bag to keep it in. And it’s all new and all top brand names. Buy used and you could do it for even less. And edit it in free DaVinci Resolve software. That’s a stunning set-up you could use to get you working professionally at a very high level. And best of all, having limited kit means you can focus on what’s really important, which is telling a compelling story. Using one camera and lens means you often work harder to really figure out what’s important to the viewer. The new filmmaking minimalism, you might say. I still won’t be going on my next shoot without three cameras, lots of lenses and mics, motorised gimbal, jib, drone and action camera though. And probably spend more time setting up and breaking down kit than anything else. That’s GAS for you.
ADAM DUCKWORTH, MANAGING EDITOR
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Awards collected at BSC The Pro Moviemaker Gear of the Year Award winners were honoured at the prestigious London BSC Expo for pro filmmakers
he winners of the first annual Pro Moviemaker Gear of the Year Awards were honoured and received their trophies from editor Terry Hope at the prestigious BSC Expo show at London’s Battersea Park. The awards were voted for by thousands of readers of Pro Moviemaker magazine in lots of different categories such as the best cinema cameras and lenses to mics, tripods, lighting, bags and more. Of course some of the top categories are for cameras, and here Canon scooped two major awards. The first was for the latest version of the camera that revolutionised filmmaking for so many people, the EOS 5D. The Mark IV version won the accolade for best DSLR, packing a 30.4-megapixel full-frame sensor that shoots DCI 4K footage internally. And in the Rental category, it was another well-proven camera that took the award – the Canon EOS C300 Mark II, honoured for its rugged reliability and Dual Pixel AF system. Canon UK’s Neil Conroy said: “I’ve been involved with the EOS 5D since the launch of the Mark II and it has been a great camera that really has changed the industry. It’s great for Canon to be honoured by Pro Moviemaker magazine readers.”
In the Lighting Innovation category, readers voted the British-made Rotolight Anova Pro as a worthy winner. A favourite of filmmakers all over the world, it is very portable yet big enough to be useful as a soft light on location. Rotolight boss Rod Gammons was elated at the accolade: “We are very humbled to receive this award. It’s wonderful to see our British-made products get such universal approval.” The award for best light panel went to Rosco’s Silk 210 soft light, a high-quality light fixture that outputs wonderfully soft and flattering light ideal for interviews. It was picked up by Rosco’s Lauren Proud. And still with lighting, the best Fresnel light award went to the Litepanels Sola 6+ Daylight Fresnel. Jetting in from California to collect it was Litepanel’s Pat Grosswendt. “This is a real honour and we are thankful to readers of Pro Moviemaker magazine for this award,” he said. “It will take pride of place in our headquarters in California.” The world of cinema lenses has been shaken up hugely in recent years, and Japanese lens giant Fujifilm really made a huge impact with the release of its lightweight and affordable MK range – perfect for those dipping their toe into filmmaking. Hence European Fujifilm Cinema boss Marc Horner and Fujifilm
“It’s wonderful to see our British-made products get such universal approval”
Japan’s Yasumasa Shina were on hand to pick up the Launch of the Year award. Successfully making the transition from manufacturer of high-end lenses for stills photography to top-quality cinema lenses maker, Sigma walked away with the Zoom category for the 18-35mm T2.0 lens. The award was collected by Sigma’s Paul Reynolds who said: “Serious filmmakers are really accepting our lenses now for all sorts of big projects.” And in the prime lens category, the revolutionary Schneider-Kreuznach Xenon 50mm Cine-Tilt T2.1 took the honours, with Svenja Stosic collecting the trophy. There are lots of accessories that make a professional filmer’s job easier. And lots were honoured. Italian photo giant Manfrotto picked up two awards, for the tried-and-tested Manfrotto 546GB Twin MS tripod kit and the Manfrotto Pro Light Camera Backpack Bumblebee-230. Manfrotto’s video specialist Paul Hill hauled away the trophies. Dirk De Bont and Nico Marchand from Shape were on hand to collect the award for the firm’s Composite Rig which scooped the award for best video rig. The famous Pelican brand took our award for bags and cases with the Peli 1535 Air. And Rick Rogers picked up awards for Best External Hard Drive, the G-Technology G-RAID with Thunderbolt 3, and Best Memory Card, the SanDisk Extreme Pro 300MB/s SDXC 128GB. The rest of the awards were collected at February’s BVE Show at London’s Excel.
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LATEST UPDATES CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT Accepting awards from editor Terry Hope: Canon’s Neil Conroy; SchneiderKreuznach’s Svenja Stosic; Shape’s Dirk De Bont and Nico Marchand; Rotolight’s Rod Gammons; Sigma’s Paul Reynolds; Peli’s Ross Carter, Rosco’s Lauren Proud and Manfrotto’s Paul Hill.
CROWDS FLOOD TO BSC EXPO The BSC Expo is firmly established as one of Europe’s top shows for filmmaking professionals and targets the world of TV and film production as well as independent filmmakers. Held at the Battersea Evolution show space in Battersea Park, the show is organised by the British Society of Cinematographers and has lots of cameras, lenses, lighting and accessories on show from the biggest names in the business like ARRI, Panavision, RED, Canon, Fujifilm, Sigma and Atomos. And there are lots of workshops from top industry figures like Rodney Charters who is famous for TV show 24 and William Wages who unveiled his new feature film The Forgiven.
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AGENDA LATEST UPDATES FUJIFILM X-H1
Fuji mirrorless targets indy filmmakers The new X-H1 and matching pair of cine zooms show Fujifilm is really getting serious about movies
ujifilm is the latest manufacturer to produce a mirrorless camera targeting independent filmmakers with its new X-H1, and is also launching its current MK cinema zoom lenses in an X-mount to match. The MKX 18-55mm T2.9 and MKX 50-135mm T2.9 cinema lenses will go on sale in May but the X-H1 hits the shops on 1 March. The X-H1 has a newly-designed body that features five-axis in-body image stabilisation – a first for Fujifilm’s X-series of cameras. But it’s in the video spec that Fuji has improved over the current XT-2 flagship mirrorless camera, with a big increase in quality and resolution. The X-T2 records 4K at 30p in 100Mbps and can only output an uncompressed 4K signal in 8-bit 4:2:2 F-log to an external recorder. The new X-H1 can shoot DCI 4K at 4096×2160 to an internal SD memory card at up to 200Mbps in F-log. The bit rate can be set at 50, 100 or 200Mbps in 4K or DCI 4K. The X-H1 can also shoot in full 1080 HD at 120p for slow-motion footage, and there is a 400% dynamic range option to give 12 stops of range. The X-H1 is the first camera in the X Series to include Fujifilm’s new Eterna film simulation mode. This gives a cinematic film look, with understated colours and rich shadow tones. The camera also comes with a higherquality internal microphone for 24 bit/48 kHz audio recording, with time codes. The heart of the camera is the same APS-C size X-Trans CMOS sensor with 24.3 million pixels and no low-pass filter, which already features on the X-Pro2 and X-T2. But the dust-resistant and waterresistant body has been beefed up for pro ABOVE AND RIGHT The X-H1 is the Fuji camera filmmakers have been waiting for. Cine zooms now come in X-mount.
use, using thicker magnesium alloy. It’s also been strengthened around the lens mount for larger cine-style lenses. The viewfinder has a 3.69-million dot resolution with a display time lag of just 0.005 seconds and a frame rate of 100 frames per second. The threeinch rear screen is now a touchscreen and does not fully articulate, but tilts in three directions. That’s of limited use to filmmakers as one of those is when the camera is used in portrait orientation. For stills use, the camera has lots of modifications from the X-T2 such as a new grip, refined shutter button, larger control buttons, quieter mechanical shutter and a dedicated AF-ON button on the back of the camera. There’s a new flicker reduction mode for sport photography and the phase-detection autofocus has been improved. One issue with using the camera for video is that there is no headphone socket, and the only way to get a headphone socket is to buy the additional battery grip. This adds two more batteries, which increases shooting time significantly – using the grip, the maximum period for shooting movies in 4K is around 30 minutes. The grip also adds more control buttons, and for stills shooters improves performance for burst shots and reduces the interval between shots, shutter time lag, and EVF blackout.
“The X-H1 can shoot DCI 4K at up to 200Mbps”
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This revolutionary multi-function headset is ideal for VR fans and works on Apple devices
f you’re a video blogger, love 3D and VR or just want some amazing noise-cancelling headphones, the revolutionary Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset delivers. The over-the-ear hook earbuds are a 3D binaural recording system that uses two microphones, one on each of the earbuds, to record in stereo. The result is that audio is recorded that sounds like three-dimensional surround sound when listened to with any normal stereo headphones.
The Ambeo Smart Headset needs no batteries as it plugs into the lightning connector on suitable Apple devices, which is unusual for noise-cancelling headphones that usually need to have a battery. The Ambeo has a vocal-range enhancement feature that helps if you have trouble hearing people in noisy places. Put the headphones on and enable the Transparent Hearing – Amplify Level mode which boosts voices. And conversely, the Transparent Hearing mode lets you
listen to music while still hearing what’s going on around you. The Ambeo also comes with an app with its own graphic equaliser so you can fine-tune the sound even more. And there’s an additional microphone to make telephone calls. One lucky Pro Moviemaker reader will win their own Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset, worth £260/$299. All you have to do is answer the question below. Good luck!
WIN A SENNHEISER AMBEO SMART HEADSET Question: What’s the name of the connector the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset uses to connect to Apple devices? Enter via our website at: www.promoviemaker.net Visit www.sennheiser.com to find out more about the Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset. TERMS AND CONDITIONS: Entries must be received by 11.59pm, 1 May 2018 and the winner will be notified by email within seven days. The winner will be chosen at random from all the correct entries. This competition is open to worldwide residents, aged 18 and over only. Employees of Bright Publishing and the prize provider and their immediate families and agents may not enter. The prize must be taken as offered with no alternative. Entries not in accordance with these rules will be disqualified; by entering, competitors will be deemed to have agreed to be bound by these rules. In the event that the prize cannot be supplied, no liability will attach to Bright Publishing. For the full terms and conditions, visit: www. bright-publishing.com/terms/termsconditions.html.
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AGENDA LATEST UPDATES
I KNOW THIS MUCH...
Professor Stefan Allesch-Taylor CBE explains why he’s made a £1 million commitment to support diversity in the UK short film industry
espite so much discussion about the whole issue of diversity in all walks of life, it’s still unusual to come across anyone prepared to back it up with a genuine commitment to do something that’s practically positive. However, philanthropist and executive film producer Professor Stefan Allesch-Taylor CBE has bucked the trend and put his money where his mouth is by announcing that he’s committing the sum of £1 million/$1.4 million towards the production of new short films that promote diversity and
inclusion throughout the UK film industry. In particular, he’s looking to promote upcoming talent, and already has a long track record of encouraging the younger generation of filmmakers to find their feet. So, what is behind this grand gesture, and why does Professor Allesch-Taylor consider that it’s so necessary at this time to be making this kind of commitment? And, in particular, what is he hoping will ultimately come out of the exercise? We caught up with him to find out more, in his own words.
“At the moment the barriers to entry to our industry usually revolve around opportunity poverty. I don’t like that or the lack of social mobility it creates ”
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AGENDA Short films need monetisation I’ve been involved in making films for over ten years and have always felt a little frustrated that there hasn’t been a straightforward way to monetise short films. This seems crazy, bearing in mind the number of platforms out there and the need for content. I’m happy to play a role in risking capital to create a sustainable model for short form filmmakers; invariably those starting out and who need the most financial support. Filmmaking is a commercial success Overall the film industry over the last few years has had an excellent time: it’s been one of the largest contributors to the UK’s GDP growth for three years running. However, there is little evidence of this success filtering through to new and young filmmakers. Funding for short film projects is notoriously hard to secure, partly because they are always positioned as philanthropy. On the flip side, however, there is usually a hugely impressive collaborative approach to getting these short films made. I don’t want to change any of that teamwork and sense of achievement in getting short films completed. I am, however, attempting to push everyone involved in the industry to think more about sustainability. Barriers to entry are too high Outside of a commercial context it’s crystal clear that there is not the diversity that reflects our broad society today throughout the industry, nor is it prevalent in the storytelling that’s going on. However, the key criterion for me is still the need to produce quality compelling entertainment and not default into the tired format of patronising ‘infomercials’ about social injustice. I’m looking for filmmakers to have more of a commercial sense and for distributors to start to take some risks in getting these often terrific pieces of work out there. At the moment the barriers to entry to our industry are horrible and usually revolve around opportunity poverty. I don’t like that or the lack of social mobility it creates.
LATEST UPDATES I’d love more comedy shorts! In terms of the films I would like to see, I have no preconceived ideas but I’m hoping that we’ll be able to propel the careers of the people involved forward. Essentially, if it’s a hobby to you or a soapbox then, respectfully, it’s not for us. Personally, I would love to see a few more comedy ideas come our way: they’re only about 0.5% of what we’re seeing now. The grants we’re offering are simple and they’re usually worth what’s being asked for. We’re not here, however, to dent the spirit of short filmmaking, put producers out of work or hold back the collaborative team effort. Instead we’re usually the final money that makes something possible. We’re looking to give support to those who have put a film together and are struggling to get over the line. That’s usually a function of them not being ‘connected’ enough or invariably not living in London. It’s a social mobility issue and it’s great to play a role in helping people who have proven themselves to be determined to get over the line. Entry level filmmaking was broken I was attracted to supporting filmmakers because it was fun, but stayed with it because I felt it was broken at the entry level. I have successfully used entrepreneurial approaches – not to be mistaken with business building – to solve some challenging problems in some of the poorest and most deprived parts of the world, and I hope we can make a positive contribution in terms of the sustainability of the short form film industry in the UK. Obviously we hate saying no and sometimes we say no and get truly humbling responses that reaffirm our belief in mankind: however, sometimes we get ranted at, and that’s another story… Changes are overdue There needs to be a more direct and better relationship between new filmmakers and distribution platforms. I don’t see sustainability being a hot topic around Government grants, Creative England
ABOVE The poster for one of the award-winning films that Stefan has helped to fund, Flyspy. BELOW Jason Flemyng and Blake Ritson in another of Stefan’s films, Bricks.
and the BFI monies. These organisations have not led to a stronger commercial education for recipients during their decades of spending, nor provided a solution to the challenges facing new and young filmmakers so prevalent today. Frankly, by not pushing a more commercial approach and by not adequately engaging the UK film industry and broader distribution platforms as a whole, they have harmed filmmakers while failing a significant and implicit part of their respective mandates. I really wonder what their role is moving forward. We’re off to a flying start I hope over the next few years we will be able to create a bridge between filmmakers and distributors and that whatever strategy we come up with is sustainable. It’s a big ask, but nothing will be done if interested parties just follow the same historic failed processes. I also hope we will help a really significant number of young and new filmmakers deliver their vision and drive their careers forward. Although we only announced our initiative a few weeks ago we’ve already said yes to around twenty projects so far. We’ll measure the success and impact of our initiative over the next three years, and if it’s worthwhile we’ll do it again.
More information https://twitter.com/stefanmeansbiz Expressions of interest from filmmakers should be sent to Charles Kay with Professor Stefan Allesch-Taylor CBE in the subject line: firstname.lastname@example.org
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FEATURE RED RAVEN
ABOVE Like all RED cameras, the Raven is modular and is built like a military-grade weapon. It's all part of the brand's huge appeal.
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It’s the top of many people’s wish lists but does the reality of using the pricey American camera live up to the hype? WORDS ADAM DUCKWORTH
hen thousands of ProMoviemaker readers voted for their cinema camera of the year in our recent awards, it wasn’t a hot new Canon, Panasonic or Sony camera that came out on top, despite them being the bestsellers in the market. It was a camera that has been on sale for two years, was delivered late then briefly removed from the general market and is now available through certain Apple stores, bundled with a Sigma DSLR lens. But that camera has the magic brand name RED on it, and it clearly tops the dream wishlist of lots of filmmakers. RED has a similarly fanatical fanboy base to that enjoyed by Apple. You might not get punters lining up outside a RED dealer on the day of launch, but the passion around the brand is something other manufacturers can only dream of. But does the reality live up to the hype? Can you justify splashing out the price of a decent car on a camera set-up? What about the time and expertise needed to process the files, and the huge memory and computing power needed? We investigate what it’s really like to use the RED Raven and ask if it’s a sensible buy or more of a rental option for special occasions.
SPECIFICATIONS Price: £15,000/$15,000 kit with Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 lens Sensor Size: 23.0x10.8mm, 8.8 Megapixel RED Dragon, 4608x2160 effective pixels Codecs: Raw, ProRes, DNxHD Maximum frame rates: 120fps at 4.5K and 4K; 150fps at 4K 2.4:1 (4096×1728) and 3K Full Format (3072×1620); 200fps at 3K 2.4:1 (3072×1296); 240fps at 2K Full Format (2048×1080); 300 fps at 2K 2.4:1 (2048×864) ISO range: 800-3200 Dynamic Range: 16.5 stops Lens Mount: EF Stabilisation: None Filters: None Screen: 11.93/4.7in touchscreen Audio: Integrated dual channel with integrated mic, mic input Output: 3G-SDI, HDMI, SMPTE timecode, HANC metadata, 24bit 48kHz audio Storage: RED Mini-Mag Weight: 1.59kg/3.5lb for brain with media bay and lens mount
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CASE STUDY ALISTER CHAPMAN NEXT-LEVEL IMAGE QUALITY
The advance of High Dynamic Range technology will emphasise the need for the very best cameras and optics WORDS TERRY HOPE
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ALISTER CHAPMAN CASE STUDY
here seems to be an ongoing revolution taking place in the world of filmmaking, and we’ve become almost wearied by the continual upheaval and change that’s going on. It all helps to keep it interesting of course, but it does mean that it’s crucial to stay focused and aware of the bigger picture – and those that don’t keep up to speed risk getting left behind. In recent years the story has been about rising levels of resolution, with 4K coming from nowhere to become the format of choice for large numbers of filmmakers. But nothing stops moving, and with 8K being mooted in some quarters as the next step, the pressure is on to make informed decisions about where to place investment. For Alister Chapman, the focus firmly lies elsewhere – he’s convinced that High
“I was dazzled by the quality – it was a real ‘wow’ moment” Dynamic Range technology (HDR) is not only the next big thing in the industry but that it’s effectively here already. And rather than be anxious about whether he can be ready for the changes this will inevitably bring, he’s actually hugely excited by the opportunity and is already taking on jobs providing footage for the rapidly emerging next generation of high resolution TV panels. “These are interesting times,” he muses. “The rise of HDR has happened
faster than anyone, myself included, could have expected, and it’s got the potential to change the whole landscape of broadcast filmmaking. “I saw my first HDR TV set on the Dolby Vision stand at NAB perhaps five years ago, and I remember being dazzled by the quality of the picture. It was a real ‘wow’ moment for me, but being a prototype it was ridiculously expensive, around £100,000/$135,000. “Since that time, the technology has moved on incredibly quickly, with the first OLED televisions coming out three years ago. It’s now reached a tipping point where you can pick up a decent HDR 4K TV for around £600/$811. As the technology becomes mainstream, more and more people are going to be buying into it over the next couple of years.”
BELOW The unique depth of colour offered by High Dynamic Range (HDR) required a breathtaking subject to do it justice – and the Northern Lights proved perfect.
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CASE STUDY JASON HENWOOD
Jason Henwood and director Katie Wardle have a special love for Scottish Wildcats and set up a passion project highlighting this elusive creature WORDS TERRY HOPE
s wildlife subjects go there can’t be too many that are harder to film than the Scottish wildcat. For a start there are precious few of them left these days – some estimates say that there are less than 300 pure breed animals left in Scotland – and to compound things they are incredibly solitary and secretive creatures, meaning that it’s hugely unlikely you would ever happen across one in the wild. All of which was a challenge that served to inspire filmmaker Jason Henwood and director Katie Wardle, but at the same time they were realistic enough to realise that their dream of producing a film about the enigmatic subject that had so engaged them would be anything but straightforward. Despite only having a
very limited amount of time within which to work, however, the determination was there to create something that would educate the public about what makes the critically endangered wildcat so special while demonstrating how its resourcefulness has helped it, to date, survive against all the odds. “Wildlife filmmaking has been something we’ve both been wanting to do for a very long time,” says Jason. “From my
“It’s by far the best documentary camera I’ve worked with”
point of view it’s stemmed, of course, from watching the likes of Attenborough from a young age, but it’s only in the last year or so, since Katie and I have become more confident about our own abilities thanks to some of the amazing people that we’ve worked with, that we’ve been able to take the first steps towards making our dream come true.” The film Jason and Katie have just completed, called The Last Highland Tiger, was part of this and, by necessity, shooting time was restricted to a single week, since it was a very much a passion project that needed to be completed in personal time, in between commercial work. “It became clear very early on, through talking to experts who knew the species well, that the time we had wasn’t going
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JASON HENWOOD CASE STUDY
to be enough to film these animals in the wild,” says Jason. “Other photographers and filmmakers have spent years trying to capture footage of the wildcat without much success, so we had to come up with an alternative way to work. This led us to make a decision to film the cats in two of the only enclosures in the UK that house them, the Highland Wildlife Park in Kingussie and The British Wildlife Centre near Lingfield in Surrey. We spent a day in each location, filming these beautiful animals and working closely with the keepers.” Working in the wild While the assumption had been made early on that wild footage of the central character wasn’t going to be viable, there
was still a determination to head out into the countryside where this creature makes its home, to film the landscape and to capture footage of the local wildlife that’s such an essential part of the wildcat’s diet. “There was one day in particular,” recalls Jason, “where we were up at the crack of dawn to film red squirrels, then hiking up into the Cairngorms for almost three hours to focus on wild hares and rabbits before trekking back down again at sunset. “It was a long and strenuous day throughout which I was carrying a heavy ARRI Amira plus 45-250mm Alura lens and 2.0x Alura extender. However, as an assistant I’m lucky enough to have worked with this kit a lot, so I know it very well and was confident that its tough rugged design
IMAGES The ARRI Amira has been a great tool for shooting wildlife, including rare Scottish wildcats, which are extremely reclusive and hard to encounter in the wild.
and ergonomic qualities would make life really simple for me out in the field. Our aim was to output in 2k for viewing on streaming platforms only, and this camera’s ability at 2k is by far the best in its range. It has the ability to switch between 100 and 200fps at the flick of a switch, and the images it produces are beautiful. Overall it’s by far the best documentary camera I’ve worked with and it’s rugged enough to be able to take anything you’re ever likely to throw at it.” Given its weight, however, Jason needed the rest of his kit to be as light as possible, while still being solid and durable. Mike
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G-TECHNOLOGY ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE
Data Dynamos! The new G-SPEED Shuttle from G-Technology comes in two versions and offers bags of storage capacity, making it the ideal choice for location or studio-based filmmakers with a high-res workflow
ith 4K and latterly 8K shooting becoming increasingly commonplace, the need for vast storage capacity on the go is more crucial than ever. Enter the new G-SPEED Shuttle from G-Technology, the new 4-bay version of the highly rated 8-Bay Shuttle XL, and this powerful new piece of kit comes in two versions, offering ultra-portable RAID for location or studio-based professionals that are operating a highres workflow. Ev Series Bay option The G-SPEED Shuttle with ev Series Bay Adapters offers up to 24TB of transportable storage, and is compact enough to pack for a location shoot. Optimised 4K and 8K support allows high dynamic range (HDR) and high frame rate (HFR) footage to be saved to a single location, while the device also comes with the bandwidth necessary to edit multi-camera footage in real time, render multilayer effects and quickly export in an efficient workflow. Meanwhile, with hardware, RAID 0 is offered out of the box and the device also supports RAID 0, 1, and JBOD to provide a versatile and flexible storage solution. With massive files becoming the norm, the transfer rate speeds of up to 500MB/s that the G-SPEED Shuttle with ev Bay Adapters device offers is crucial, and it enables content to be quickly ingested and footage to be natively edited in real-time. Meanwhile, with two
ev Series bays on-board, there’s a flexible way to quickly offload media from a wide range of ev Series drives and readers, including the same Atomos, C-Fast and RED readers as its 8-Bay big brother. Combined with two removable Enterprise-class hard drives and a five-year limited warranty, the device delivers reliable, highperformance storage that can match the scale of even the most full-on of professional productions. There’s also the potential to daisychain up to five additional devices via dual Thunderbolt 3 ports, ensuring that the filmmaker can be connected to multiple drives, 4K displays and more through a single connection to their computer. Heavy-duty option If you require still more power and speed, the G-SPEED Shuttle with Thunderbolt 3 offers up to 48TB of capacity combined with transfer speeds up to 1000MB/s. Sharing many of the features of its sibling, the device is similarly built for ease of transportation, while being fully capable of coping with the most demanding of workflows. Built for multi-stream 4K and 8K production workflows, the G-SPEED Shuttle with Thunderbolt 3 offers the bandwidth to support multi camera editing in real time and to render footage with multi-layer effects, and quickly export in an efficient workflow.
“Because the shuttle is such a fast device I can actually review my rushes in the field” 42
ABOVE The G-SPEED Shuttle features four bays of removable hard drives.
Meanwhile dual Thunderbolt 3 ports enable daisy-chaining of up to five additional devices. Combined with four bays of removable Enterprise-class hard drives for enhanced reliability, a five-year limited warranty and optional custom Pelican flight case, this product has been developed with the increasingly data-heavy demands of the filmmaking professional in mind. Power in the field Whatever specifications a product might be boasting, the real proof of its value is how well it can perform in the field, and G-Technology has a long history of understanding the requirements of its customers and of meeting their needs and surpassing their expectations. Filmmaker, content producer and photographer Dave Newton headed to
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G-TECHNOLOGY ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE
the Lake District recently to make a film about a fell runner, and accompanying him on the trip was the big brother of the G-SPEED Shuttle, the similarly highlyspecified 8-Bay Shuttle XL. For Dave it was an easy call to make, since his 4K video shoots are seeing him generating more data than ever before, and yet he still has the same requirements as he’s ever had to safeguard his footage and to make sure that it’s all adequately backed up as quickly and efficiently as possible. “Away from base I need a fast and rugged backup solution,” says Dave, “which comes in the form of the G-DRIVE ev Raw SSD. This is an SSD that will slot into any of the evolution Series bays and it comes with a rubber bumper round the outside and the ability to slot into the ev ATC case. This ensures that it will survive a two-metre drop and it even floats in water! “As well as shooting to SanDisk C-Fast cards I use an Atomos external recorder
combined with a G-Technology Master Caddy 4K. With this set-up I know I have both the capacity and speed to handle the resolution and bit rate I’m shooting at, and it also allows me to transfer that data into my workflow super simply.” At the end of his day’s shoot Dave backed up his footage to the Shuttle using his C-Fast card reader, which slotted into one of the spare bays. Crucially all the drives in the device work together, since they’re all modular. “When I’d finished I popped out the C-Fast card reader and replaced it with a G-DRIVE ev Raw SSD,” he says. “I could then hand this off to another member of the crew so that I had a triplicate backup of the day’s footage in separate locations.” Reflecting the fact that so much initial post work is now expected to take place in the field, Dave particularly appreciated the ability his G-Technology set-up has given him to check on his day’s work. “Because the Shuttle is such a fast device
I can actually review my rushes in the field,” he says. “Even though they’re 4K raw I was able to stream the data fast enough to make sure that I’d got all the shots I needed. Had there been anything I’d missed I would have been able to make a shot list ready for the following day. “Having grown to love the 8-Bay Shuttle I’ve just signed up for the new 4-Bay. It ticks so many boxes on size, capacity and speed: I can’t wait to get my hands on one for my next project.”
More information www.g-technology.com
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43 15/02/2018 15:25
MOVIE MATTERS RENTING & HIRING HIRING INVESTIGATION
RENTAL REVAMP Rental used to be just about bringing in a specific item of kit for a particular job but now you can make cash by hiring out your own gear WORDS TERRY HOPE
he power of the Internet has shaken up the world of equipment rental beyond recognition. It always used to be about filmmakers renting pricey or exotic kit for a particular job. But now you can make the kit you own make money for you even when it’s not being used by your business, by renting it out to others. Everything from supplementary lenses, extra camera bodies and rigs through to lights, microphones and peripheral gear such as sliders and dollies are needed to undertake even a relatively simply assignment. So it makes sense to rent in kit when you need it, and rent out your gear when you don’t. The concept that there are two sides to rental for a private filmmaker is a relatively new one and is part of the democratisation of service selling that’s arrived on the back of widespread Internet access. Now everyone has the means to access and communicate with a vast
online audience. In the case of rental, it’s opened the door to individuals getting involved, often on a micro scale, and making their kit earn money for them rather than gathering dust on a shelf. Rules of renting The role of a traditional rental house generally is to supplement kit, which can be something everyday, such as an extra lens or some lights, through to an exotic item that has a specific use but which is too expensive to invest in for the handful of times it might be used. A good example might be a camera such as the Canon ME20F-SH, a model that offers astonishing low-light performance with a top ISO speed in excess of 4,000,000, but with a price tag of nearly £15,000/$19,999 body only, it’s a piece of kit that could be difficult to justify buying. However, with a daily rental price in the ballpark of £532/$737 plus VAT it’s not entirely unrealistic for a wildlife filmmaker to hire it in for limited use on a shoot that involves filming at night or very low-light conditions, situations where it can be a real game changer. Zach Lower, a DOP/director at a production company in Brighton, is a regular user of the original Ronin gimbal, but required the Ronin 2 on a particular job, which comes with the capacity to handle cameras up to a massive 13kg/30lb. The problem is that the product carries a price tag close to £7000/$9974, making it a big ask for a small business to buy. But it’s available to hire for £210/$292 a day. “In the end I rented it out for a couple of days from Hireacamera,” says Zach, “and that covered me. It’s an incredible tool: as soon as you start using bigger cameras it definitely makes sense to move over to this model of Ronin, and I’ll be looking to rent one again for higher-end shoots when I want to take the production values up to the next level.” Personal rental The move towards individuals renting out gear is personified by companies such as
IMAGES Should you be investigating alternative hiring options for those more unusual bits of kit? And could your gear be earning you a few quid when you’re not using it?
KitMapper and Fat Lama, which specialise in simplifying the process and making it safer for both sides. On the one hand a filmmaker with surplus gear can sign up to rent this out, backed by the promise that the hirer will be checked out and gear comprehensively insured, while those looking to rent through this route have the chance to get a keen price and potentially a little more in the way of flexibility. London and New York-based filmmaker CC Kellogg was introduced to the KitMapper service when she was working on the first episode of her upcoming anthology series, Nudes. “Because it was a US/UK/French coproduction, shooting across international locations, we knew we needed the RED DRAGON EPIC to match footage,” she says. “However, we weren’t looking for a traditional week-long rental, but rather a low day rate, and the team at KitMapper worked tirelessly to get us this specific kit for a really good price.” A RED EPIC-X DRAGON camera body is available through KitMapper for £290/$412 a day or £1160/$1650 for a full week, which is not insubstantial but compares well to traditional rental houses. “KitMapper also researched insurance options and made the camera body rental and insurance an easy combo process,” says CC, “and were flexible enough to work
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RENTING & HIRING
“We weren’t looking for a traditional week-long rental, but rather a low day rate” with an international team across time zones and super supportive throughout the process. Although we rented most of the equipment we needed, such as lenses and lights through traditional outlets, I would definitely expand on future orders with KitMapper. Their flexibility and professionalism made a real difference: we were even able to return the camera body on a Sunday to save fees, something that isn’t usually available through conventional rental houses. “Everything was seamless,” she says, “and we will definitely be back when we shoot in London again later this year.” “The process is pretty straightforward,” says KitMapper founder Dave Charlesworth. “There is a single form for both renters and listers, and those hiring out gear need to upload images, descriptions and a daily, weekly and monthly hire rate. All users have to be verified by us to be able to hire or even rent their kit out, and this is a quick process that is powered by Experian. “Generally most of our hires are picked up by hand, and this is how many listers prefer it in any case, as it gives them vital
face-to-face dialogue with the renter, while there’s also an opportunity at this point to talk someone through how to use the gear if necessary.” Fat Lama was founded on similar principles and, again, the need for comprehensive insurance was taken on board at an early stage. “We were very conscious from the beginning that a robust cover policy for lenders was absolutely essential before anyone, individual or business, could feasibly consider a rental platform,” says Tim Slater, who looks after the company’s communications and supply. “In the first instance, borrowers are liable for theft and damages to an item - something we make very clear to those who rent through the platform. However, should there be any difficulties in reclaiming this amount, we have an underwritten guarantee that covers lenders against theft and damages up to £25,000 per item.” Times are changing fast. Renters at all levels are becoming more flexible and willing to offer good value weekend deals, and many filmmakers will also charge their clients for kit that is hired
in, saving the need to own more than the bare necessities. Of course, hiring from established rental specialists does have its advantages, such as fully checked and calibrated kit that you know will work flawlessly every time and well-organised delivery and return logistics. But now there is an option that could be more affordable. Meanwhile, if you do prefer to own your own equipment then there’s now an option to monetise it, with reports that incomes of hundreds or even thousands of pounds a month via this route are possible. Decide what works for you and take a fresh look to see if it’s time to change your own views on renting. This is an area that is now very much coming of age and it could well constitute part of a good modern business model for filmmakers.
More information Hireacamera: www.hireacamera.com Zach Lower: www.weareeven.co KitMapper: https://kitmapper.com/ Far Lama: https://fatlama.com/
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55 15/02/2018 15:33
MOVIE MATTERS THE DSLR DEBATE
STILL IN THE GAME
WHY THE DSLR IS STILL RELEVANT
Ambushed by mirrorless cameras and Super35 cinema cams, the DSLR can still cut it for moviemaking WORDS ADAM DUCKWORTH
ou’d be forgiven for thinking that the DSLR is largely yesterday’s camera. Despite the Canon EOS 5D Mark II opening up the moving-image market to a whole new breed of wannabes at an affordable price, it’s been the use of mirrorless and cinema-style cameras that has exploded. The intuitive handling of cinema cameras is one big reason, and mirrorless cameras like the Sony A7 series and Panasonic GH5 have largely taken over from DSLRs for those who want the smallest form-factor and the highest quality, along with shallow depth-of-field. Unlike DSLRs they don’t need a stick-on loupe to see the screen, and often have Log profiles, built-in stabilisation and uncompressed video outputted over HDMI. Cinema cams have XLR audio inputs, waveform and vectorscope monitoring and often higher bit rates for smoother colours. Some even offer the holy grail of Raw video output. No DSLRs do that. But that doesn’t mean the DSLR is history, as they can produce amazing results despite their handling quirks. And with the very latest crop of DSLRs really getting serious about video spec, they may be coming back as a serious filmmakers’ camera. They say the best camera is the one you have with you – or at least the one you actually have! And more people own
“DSLRs can produce amazing results despite handling quirks” 58
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THE DSLR DEBATE LEFT A Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a loupe and an external mic is a great bit of kit for shooting movies.
video-capable DSLRs than mirrorless or Cinema cameras. Armed with a DSLR like a Canon EOS 5D – from the Mark II to the current Mark IV – and some good lenses, you’re on the way to making movies of the very highest quality. But you will need some accessories. All regular DSLRs have an optical viewfinder which blacks out when recording video, so you use the screen on the back. And that requires a loupe so you can see what’s going on. It does add another contact point to your body, so aids stability. Or you could use a camera cage and add on an external monitor/ recorder. This has a large screen, and will often add such useful tools as focus peaking, waveform monitoring and zebra patterns to gauge exposure, while allowing the camera to record at higher quality to a huge SSD card. So you’ll find that some of the pitfalls of a DSLR will be effectively negated. One of the benefits of full-frame DSLRs is that the sensor is larger than all affordable cinema cameras and mirrorless cameras too, apart from the full-frame Sony A7 series and A9. Larger sensor cameras produce less noise when used at higher ISO ratings, such as in low light, and often have very
low base ISOs. That means you can drop the ISO and use a wide aperture, rather than having a cinema camera that might have a base ISO of 2000 and having to use ND filters to get the desired aperture. Of course, ND filters on a DSLR are very useful too, and a simple variable ND can work wonders at a low price. As DSLRs are designed for fine-quality stills, they have lots of pixels. But HD video doesn’t need all these, so most DSLRs don’t record from the whole sensor at once but scan down the sensor. So if you move the camera sideways during recording you can get the ‘rolling shutter’ effect where vertical lines are badly distorted. You just have to watch out. Autofocus in video can hunt, as the super-advanced AF system built for shooting stills is often crippled for video use and has shortfalls. But to use manual focus on a DSLR can be tricky, as the small EVF can be slow and makes it hard to see what’s sharp. And DSLR lenses are not great for manual focusing as their focusby-wire system is not as responsive as manually-geared cinema lenses. Change lenses and you’ll need to reset your rig, too, as lenses designed for stills don’t offer the consistent sizing of a set of
matched cinema lenses. And of course if you are using shallow depth of field, then focusing becomes critically important. But take your time, and it can work. Oldschool manual focus lenses can work a treat, as does fitting real cinema lenses to your DSLR when you’re ready to upgrade. Great audio is crucial and the internal mic on a DSLR is largely useless. Most have a standard 3.5mm audio input jack so they can use an external DSLR-specific mic of which there are a wide choice at reasonable prices. You can get a mic close to your subject using a long cable or even with a wireless receiver, turn off the camera’s auto gain and set the levels manually. To use more than one mic can be a problem, especially if these use pro level XLR fittings. It’s best to use an external recorder with pro-level mics like lavaliers or a shotgun. You then have to sync the audio up in processing which is much less of a problem than it used to be. The latest crop of DSLRs is hitting back with some interesting spec for video users. The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV can now shoot in Log, and the Sony A99 II uses the fullframe 42-megapixel BSI CMOS chip fitted in the A7R II plus all its moviemaking essentials like 4K recording, S-Log profiles, focus peaking, adjustable zebras and high frame rates. And the mirror doesn’t flip up, so you can keep your eye to the viewfinder. This technology allows for a hybrid phase-detection AF system which is the best DSLR-type autofocus for video anywhere. And Nikon’s new D850 is a 45.7-megapixel full-frame camera with a tilting touchscreen; 4K video shot from the whole width of the sensor and 120fps in HD. The quality is incredible, especially in 4K. Of course, no DSLRs have effective image stabilisation, so you’ll need to be tripod mounted or use a motorised gimbal for moving shots. But as they are so small, it’s easy to do and you have a potent moviemaking machine for not too much money. The DSLR is still a worthwhile filmmaking tool.
THE VERDICT If you’re coming from stills photography and already have a video-capable camera and lenses, it makes sense to stick with what you are comfortable with and just buy the accessories you need to turn your DSLR into a movie camera. You’ll get wafer-thin depth-of-field for a cinematic look and amazing low-light performance for not a lot of investment. On the other hand, if you don’t own any system then it’s hard
to genuinely recommend going that route to make films. Mirrorless cameras offer all their advantages, and lots more video spec, if you want the smallest form factor. And cinema cameras or even all-in-one camcorders offer lots of other advantages, especially for run-and-gun use. Having said all that: the reports of the death of the DSLR have been greatly exaggerated.
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59 15/02/2018 15:39
ARIEL FILMMAKER NEWS
Two big launches from DJI and Yuneec galvanise the market, while GoPro has taken the decision to cease production of the much-vaunted Karma and to withdraw from making drones. WORDS TERRY HOPE
DJI’s Mavic gets a baby sister The hugely popular DJI Mavic Pro now has a sibling, the Mavic Air, which was released at the end of January. Priced at £769 in the UK and $799 in the US, the new model slots in between the company’s cheapest drone, the £449/$399 Spark, and the Pro itself, which is priced at £1099/$999. Smaller, lighter and faster than the Pro model, as well as promising more advanced obstacle-avoidance tech, the Air does feature a shorter 21-minute flight time – opposed to the Pro’s 27 minutes - and cannot travel as far from its operator, being limited to 4km rather than 7km. The Mavic Air uses a 1/2.3-inch sensor that shoots 4K video at 24 or 30fps, or
12-megapixel stills, using a 24mm f/2.8 lens. It tops out at 42.5mph, can withstand winds of up to 22mph and, thanks to its seven-camera obstacle avoidance system, it comes with the ability to automatically plot a new route above or around the object rather than just hovering on the spot. Also on board is a redesigned ventilation system that DJI says will help prevent it from overheating, along with a new 3-axis gimbal casing for the camera to help produce smooth footage. Like the Pro, the Air is designed to be folded to make it easier to carry around, and in this mode it’s significantly smaller than the original – about half the size –
and 41% lighter as well. There are also updated and improved software features on the Air along with new shooting modes, including a 32-megapixel panorama option, or a tiny planet mode, better gesture controls, and DJI claims it’s improved its image processing in order to squeeze better photos and video out of the sensor. With news of GoPro’s departure from the drone market, it leaves DJI in a stronger position than ever. Even with GoPro in the frame, in the year up to last September the company accounted for 72% of all sales of $500 to $1000-priced drones in the US. www.dji.com
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YUNEEC UPGRADES THE TYPHOON H Just over two years on from the original launch, Yuneec has announced a substantial upgrade to its popular Typhoon H drone. The Plus version packs all of its predecessor’s perks, including the option to have Intel’s RealSense technology on board, while improving some of the features. For a start, the new model includes an all-new and larger six-rotor hex airframe, which aims to reduce noise by up to 40% from previous hex models while improving stability to the point where the craft can cope with winds of up to 30mph. On board is Yuneec’s C23 20 MP camera, which captures video in 4K at 60fps and features an improved low-light performance and an increased dynamic range over previous models. Meanwhile, the Android-based ST16S controller has also been improved, and now includes a large, high brightness seven-inch integrated display and an HD
720p video downlink for real-time video reception. The new Plus is due to become available at the end of March and prices are slated to start at £1399/$1499 for the standard model, while the version with $1799 with Intel RealSense and additional extras will cost £1679/$1799. www.yuneec.com
“The new model includes an all-new and larger six-rotor hex airframe, which aims to reduce noise by up to 40%” Following a long-running series of reliability issues, GoPro has announced that it will no longer be making the once highly-anticipated Karma drone. Launched back in 2016, the Karma had a difficult start and was recalled after reports of the drone falling from the sky. It made it back onto the market in March last year, but by that time competition from other manufacturers, in particular DJI, had stepped up. As a new entrant into the arena, GoPro struggled. There were also complaints that the Karma was overpriced, an issue compounded in the UK when it returned to the market costing an extra £150/$212. GoPro has admitted that the Karma faced ‘margin challenges in an extremely competitive aerial market’. Withdrawal from the drone market will occur after remaining stock has been sold, but the company has pledged to provide service and support to existing Karma owners. https://gopro.com
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63 15/02/2018 15:43
GEAR PANASONIC GH5S
S CLASS! Panasonicâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s impressive new GH5S is aimed squarely at filmmakers WORDS ADAM DUCKWORTH
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ony may have got the ball rolling by offering a video-focused version of its mirrorless camera in the A7S, but Panasonic has smashed it out of the park with the impressive new GH5S aimed squarely at filmmakers, with no compromises. It may only have a sensor that’s roughly a quarter the size of full frame and with only 10.2 megapixels, but the new Panasonic GH5S is far from just another mirrorless camera that pays lip-service to filmmaking. Like Sony’s full-frame A7S II, its video performance is paramount and the low pixel count makes for larger pixels, which handle noise better and makes for less rolling shutter. Panasonic now has a definite split in its range of G-series cameras. Its 20fps G9 is for the photographer who focuses mainly on stills but who sometimes shoots video; the GH5 for users who put equal weighting to stills and moving images; and the GH5S for filmmakers who may want to occasionally shoot stills. While the G9 and GH5 share the same 20-megapixel sensor, the GH5S is based on the recent GH5 but now comes with an obvious red video record button on the top plate and uses an all-new highsensitivity Live MOS sensor. This reaches a new high for Panasonic of 51,200 ISO which can be expanded to 204,800. There’s also Panasonic’s Dual Native ISO technology as used in its far larger and more pricey Varicam and EVA1 cinema cameras. This system reads the chip in two different ways and each has a different native ISO: one setting has a lower native ISO of 400 for maximum dynamic range and the other is at higher 2500 ISO, but aimed at minimising noise. For multi-camera shooting, there is a timecode in/out port. While the GH5 was the first mirrorless camera to offer 4K video recording at 60fps, the GH5S goes a step further by offering it in the larger cinema 4K format, thanks to a slightly larger sensor. This larger sensor also affects the angle of view, although only a bit. The GH5S now records 14-bit Raw stills files instead of the 12-bit files of the GH5. For video, the footage is processed to an internal 4:2:2 10-bit signal at a
SPECIFICATIONS Price: 2175/$2498 body only Sensor: 10.2-megapixel Micro Four Thirds CMOS sensor, 17.3x13.0mm, ‘Multi Aspect’ CMOS sensor with dual gain design Recording format: MOV: H.264/MPEG-4 AVC. MP4: H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, H.265/ HEVC, AVCHD
ABOVE The LCD screen flips out and tilts so is ideal for use on gimbals. It’s a touchscreen, too.
“Panasonic now has a split in its range of G-series cameras” very high 400Mbps in cinema 4K 30p/25p/24p, for strong colour reproduction. At 60fps in cinema 4K, it’s 8-bit footage recorded internally or at 10-bit if you record the signal via an external recorder (sadly, it can’t output Raw video files). The GH5S comes with V-Log video profile to maximise dynamic range, which comes pre-installed on the camera. There is also no maximum time limit for recording in HD or 4K and the camera is capable of recording in Hybrid Log Gamma mode for instant High Dynamic Range moviemaking. For action, the camera is blazing fast as it can record 10x slow motion at 240fps in 1080p HD, overtaking the 180fps GH5 as the speed king of mirrorless cameras (although this does crop the image at over 200fps). There’s 14-bit Raw still capture up to 11fps for best-quality stills, too, which are relatively good in low light despite the small sensor size. One new feature that’s of use to both stills and moving image shooters is what Panasonic calls the multi-aspect sensor. It’s marginally bigger than the standard GH5 sensor, so you can get the same angle of view in 4:3, 17:9, 16:9 and 3:2 aspect ratios. The Panasonic is tough, with a magnesium body that’s splashproof, dustproof and freezeproof down to -10 degrees, as well as dual SD memory card slots. The top plate has been
File sizes: 4096x2160: 60p @150Mpbs in 4:2:0 8-bit; 30p @ 100Mpbs in 4:2:0 8-bit and 150Mbps in 4:2:2 10-bit; 24p @400Mbps in 4:2:2 10-bit and 150Mbps in 4:2:2 10-bit. 3840x2160: 30/ 24p @400Mbps 4:2:2 10-bit; 60/30/24p @150Mpbs 4:2:2 10-bit, 30/25/24 @100Mbps 4:2:0 8-bit HD: 60/50/25/24 @200/100Mbps 4:2:2 10-bit; 60/50/30/25/24 @100Mbps 4:2:0 8-bit Stills: 14- or 12-bit Raw and Jpeg, 12fps Fast and slow frame rates: 1080p 2-240fps Recording media: Dual SD/ SDHC/SDXC slots Audio input: Mic input jack, built-in mic ISO: Auto, 160-51,200 (expandable to 80-204,800). Native @400, 2500 Image stabilisation: None Screen: 3.2in OLED articulating touch screen, 1,620k dots Shutter speed: 1-1/16,000sec Autofocus: Contrast AF Video modes: Manual, program AE, aperture-priority, shutter-priority Picture styles: V-LogL, Hybrid Log Gamma and LUT picture display Dimensions (WxHxD): 138.5x98.1x87.4mm/ 5.45x3.86x3.44in Weight: 600g/1.46lb
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71 15/02/2018 16:39
GEAR MINI CAMERA TEST POV CAMERA COMPARISON
MINI MARVELS These three latest tiny cameras can really put you in the thick of it for a unique point of view WORDS ADAM DUCKWORTH
he dramatic footage you can only get from a small action camera can add something very special to your films. Whether it’s helmet-cam footage from an extreme sportsman, an establishing shot from a tight location that would be impractical to mount a big camera, an underwater shot, a simple second camera angle for a quick cutaway or something more creative, a small action camera has fast become a must-have for many filmmakers. While GoPro established the market, there’s been an explosion in affordable cameras. Some are cheap and nasty, just toys for amateurs to post footage on Facebook. But a professional filmmaker’s needs are different, with ultimate quality and control being far more important than consumer-style add-ons and editing. We look at three very different cameras at three price points, offering serious features for the professional.
BELOW Without their cases, all three cameras are roughly the same size and shape
SONY RX0 It looks like an action camera, it’s the size of an action camera and it’s certainly rugged enough to be thought of as an action camera. But to pigeonhole the Sony RX0 as just an expensive action cam is to do it a massive disservice. It’s a mini production camera that might not offer all the consumer-friendly features of the latest breed of action cameras like GoPro but aces them all with its pro video capabilities plus its Zeiss lens and large 1.0-inch type Exmor CMOS sensor: the biggest sensor fitted to any camera of this diminutive size. Best of all it can shoot in S-Log2 to maximise dynamic range. No other mini camera does that. Essentially, you can think of the RX0 as featuring the internals of one of the Sony RX100 range of cameras, but with a fixed 24mm-equivalent f/4 lens and minus any external control knobs. All those have been left off, leaving it to be controlled via the screen on the back and push-buttons to access the menus which are the same as all Sony’s high-end consumer
cameras. If you’re used to anything like an A7, A6000 or RX-series cameras, you’ll be at home straight away; as long as your eyesight is good. Cramming all the menu information onto a 1.5-inch screen means the icons are tiny and the buttons fiddly, but that’s the price you pay for miniaturisation. The buttons are also very sensitive, and we often found the camera turned on accidentally. You need to be careful and make sure you haven’t changed settings. With Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, the RX0 can be controlled via Sony’s smartphone app which is a great way to use it remotely, change settings and even review footage. It’s made from rugged aluminium and is waterproof to 10m/33ft, shock and crush proof without the need for any external case. Add on the optional case and the camera is good to go even deeper in the water down to 100m/ 330ft, but it does cost £930/$900 which is even more than the camera itself. There’s a single, standard tripod mount on the bottom so it works for
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MINI CAMERA TEST “The Sony does offer full control of most settings so is ideal for a savvy cameraman” all conventional filmmaking grips. But as it seems the whole action camera world has settled on the GoPro mount as standard, a simple converter is available very cheaply which will allow you to access the hundreds of mounting accessories on sale. Where action cameras usually feature automated modes, the Sony does offer full control of most settings so is ideal for a savvy cameraman. You can set Intelligent Auto Mode if you just want to point and shoot, though. Apart from the aperture which is fixed at f/4, the Sony allows you to set everything manually, such as shutter speed, ISO and focus, as well as picture controls, and even gamma and knee – just like its bigger cameras. And it’s quite a shock to see such useful features as zebra, peaking and a histogram on a camera of this size. To set focus, dial in the distance you want between half a metre to infinity. There’s also a two-position option which is set to Near or Far as there’s no autofocus. Near works up to around 1 metre/3.3ft; Far is from this distance to infinity. Most action cameras are fixed focus but as the Sony uses a large sensor and correspondingly longer focal length lens, it’s more critical to get focus right. The lens is fixed at f/4, which does become an issue in bright light especially if you shoot in S-Log2 which sets the ISO to a minimum of 1600. You’ll need an ND filter to avoid having to use very high shutter speeds. Sony sells a cover that lets you attach 30.5mm ND filters but this costs an additional £180/ $150. And an f/4 lens is not the brightest when light
levels drop so you have to increase the ISO which affects image quality. There are lots of other pro features including a mic port and audio levels that you control manually. The mic input, along with the micro HDMI and USB ports as well as micro SD card slot, is covered by a push-on plastic protector. Taking this off to use a mic means all weather sealing has gone. Other niggles involve the screen which automatically dims after around a minute, and the battery life. We ran down a fully-charged battery in around 25 minutes, so you’ll need to buy and carry spares for continuous use. And the camera has no image stabilisation, unlike most action cams. While the RX0 is capable of shooting 15.3-megapixel stills in Raw and JPEG at up to a ludicrous 16fps, it’s the video spec that’s interesting but frustrating. The Sony uses its well-proven XAVC-S codec but internally can only record in HD. To record 4K in 10-bit 4:2:2, you need to use the clean HDMI output and add on an external recorder like an Atomos Ninja Flame. That certainly takes it well out of the action camera market. When some other small cameras now offer 4K at 60p recorded internally, this could be a deal-breaker. What you are left with is HD quality if you stick to recording internally, and the quality is not as good as the full-size RX cameras which is probably due to downscaling the 4K sensor and its 8-bit 4:2:0 recording. There is some aliasing and the noise is not as good as you might expect out of a camera with such a large sensor. It’s not hideous, certainly at lower ISO
ABOVE The Sony shoots in real Log so can be graded for more punch and saturation in post.
BELOW The RX0 doesn’t need a protective cage. It comes with a Zeiss fixed lens which is a good performer.
settings, but crank up the gain and the noise gets increasingly noticeable. The colours are also typically Sony, ie. relatively muted. And there is very little rolling shutter, certainly compared to action camera rivals. One of the biggest selling points of the camera to a professional audience is that is can be set to shoot in S-Log2 to maximise dynamic range. Of course, the image you see on the screen is very flat and lacking in contrast, making judging exposure a bit tricky but not impossible. In post, the footage is easily converted to boost contrast and saturation, allowing you to avoid blowing out highlights or have shadows blocking up. This is the real benefit of the RX0, although it is negated slightly by S-Log2 settings fixing the ISO at 1600 which does increase noise. Some de-noise software is pretty much essential. But spend time tweaking it in post, and the RX0 does produce bright and punchy results with lots of dynamic range. One other unique benefit of the RX0 is its impressive high-speed shooting which goes up to a mind-blowing 1000fps, although the resolution does drop significantly as you crank up the frame rate. While 1000fps might be useful for a one-off shot if ultimate quality isn’t an issue such as using it as a crash cam, at more realistic speeds like 240fps the RX0 is genuinely useful as a super slowmotion camera. It’s not quite at HD quality, but makes the RX0 a fine tool for capturing action up close.
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GEAR MINI TESTS
Our round-up of the great kit we’ve tested in this issue includes a new cine zoom lens, a 40in monitor, a portable tripod and a range of LED panels WORDS ADAM DUCKWORTH, KINGSLEY SINGLETON AND ROGER PAYNE
KENRO DOUBLE DISTANCE SLIDER £199/$269
SPECIFICATIONS Maximum load: 6kg/13.22lb flat surface, 3kg/6.61lb tripod-mounted Length: 50cm/19.7in
Kenro’s Double Distance Slider has a neat trick; the range can be extended to 76cm, despite the rail being only 50cm long. When used on a tripod, the slider’s mounting point is a counterbalance to the camera carriage. Essentially the whole rail moves laterally as you move the camera. It’s a nice idea, but care must be taken as it moves closer to the end of the rail as it’s easy to unbalance if the spread of legs isn’t wider than the 76cm reach of the slider. The slider can also be used freestanding as it has two adjustable feet at each end of the aluminium rail, which can be lengthened by up to 1cm to stabilise the slider on uneven surfaces. The feet become a bit wobbly as you unscrew them, so you don’t want to move them too much, but they do have rubber contact points for extra grip, and the knurled finish makes them easy to use. There’s no bubble level on the slider, so perfect levelling needs to be done using a suitable head attached to the platform or under it. The maximum load is 6kg when mounted on the integrated feet, falling to 3kg on a tripod. I tested it with a 650g ball head and a Nikon D810 with a range
BELOW AND RIGHT The Kenro slider can be used on a tripod or freestanding on its integrated feet. .
of lenses including a 20mm f/1.8, 16-35mm f/4 and 50mm f/1.8; the heaviest combo, totalling 2.31kg. Ultimately any slider will be rated on how smoothly you can move the camera on it. Some have winders built in, but Kenro’s Double Distance Slider is all down to using your hands to push the carriage along. You can do this either via the platform or the end of the rail if the slider is on a tripod. I tried both, and found a lot of smoothness comes from your own technique. I did notice a little wobble as the top platform passes its counterweight; this was mainly found when using the four-feet setup. I couldn’t iron it out, but it was barely noticeable in footage. More wobble was detected when tripod-mounted, particularly at the ends of the rail. Using the D810, 16-35mm and head, the rail bowed down at the extremes and more force was required to move the camera there, which often resulted in a slightly jerky movement. Using a lighter setup lessened this, but results were improved when
Movement range: 38cm/15in flat surface, 76cm/30in tripod-mounted Movement type: Belt driven Dimensions: 50x10x9.5cm/ 19.7x3.9x3.7in Weight: 1.64kg/3.62lb
image stabilisation was used. What’s more, the rubber bumper at the end of the rail to stop the carriage is nowhere near spongy enough to prevent a bump; I’d glue some foam padding on there. At £199, this is an affordable slider, and a clever one. It weighs only 1.64kg and build quality feels solid, with plenty of screws to tighten should anything slip. The fact that it’s small and light could be the difference in taking a slider with you or leaving a larger model at home, and it can offer pretty smooth results that give video a much more professional look. KS. PRO MOVIEMAKER RATING: 8/10 A clever idea and it’s affordable. Pros: Portable and easy to use Cons: Manual slide only, and limited length.
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ATOMOS SUMO19 4K MONITOR/ RECORDER £2382/ $2195
If you’re aware of the Atomos line of monitor/ recorders, like the Shogun Inferno series, then a good way of thinking of the Sumo is like a giantsized version. Or as a 19-inch on-set director’s monitor, that also records 4K and Raw in 12-bit and offers live switching. Or perhaps consider it as a genuine HDR monitor for you to grade your footage accurately in postproduction. Actually, it’s all three; a multi-use tool that speeds up your workflow and improves your footage. There are lots of on-screen monitoring tools, such as waveform, focus peaking, false colour and vectorscope, to help you gauge your exposure and composition more accurately than on a small screen, and all these are also compatible with the large dynamic range of HDR. Atomos’ own HDR viewing mode can really help in nailing your exposure, especially when shooting in Log. The footage from your camera can often be improved significantly. Many cameras allow you to output a clean HDMI or SDI signal, either in Raw or at a higher bit-rate codec. The Sumo can take this incoming DCI, UHD 4K or HD video and record it in lots of different versions of Apple ProRes or AVID DNxHR to a fast SSD drive. Some cameras can output 12-bit Raw over SDI, for the ultimate flexibility in post-production, and the Sumo can handle this, too. It makes the most of your camera’s capabilities and in specific cases – such as cinema cameras like Canon’s C300 Mark II or Sony FS5, the mirrorless Fuji XT-1 and Panasonic GH5 or DSLR Nikon D850 - you’ll be making the best of the footage the camera can produce. In post, the Sumo can be fully calibrated and its HDR capabilities and 10-bit image processing allow you to make the most subtle of changes, confident in the final result. It can also be calibrated using X-Rite’s popular i1Display Pro to ensure total colour consistency. The Sumo itself is solidly built, with an aluminium alloy chassis that has
RIGHT The Sumo19 has a range of onscreen tools, a slot for an SSD/HDD and a great choice of inputs.
10 mounting points around the top, bottom, and side, a rear panel VESA mount, and a separate small stand. So you can put it on a desk, mount it on a light stand or pretty much any other sort of standard grip. But at 5.6kg/12.3lb without batteries, media or stand, it’s no lightweight and you need not only a substantial stand but a sturdy bag to transport and protect it. There is built-in audio recording with full-size XLR connections, ideal for mirrorless and DSLR users for whom audio can be a headache. There are also speakers for on-set playback and a headphone jack. With such a choice of inputs, the Sumo can record and play back up to four HD video channels live. So you can switch and mix a live recording, and stream or record four HD ISO recordings. On location, the 1200 cd/m² display is very bright, but there is an optional sunhood. There are dual four-pin XLR inputs for power or you can use V-Mount or Gold Mount batteries, or mains. You need to also budget for an SSD to record onto, which can cost from £200/$250 for a 480GB version that’s fast enough for most 4K and Raw applications. Chances are you’ll need more than one hard drive as Raw and higher quality files eat up storage. For example shooting Raw 4K at 30fps at a typical 3Gbps, an hour of shooting would fill 1.5TB of hard drive space. But that’s the price of the ultimate in quality. AD.
SPECIFICATIONS Power: V-Lock/Anton Bauer via XLR terminal, 6.2-16.8V DC Screen: 19in touchscreen, 1920x1200, 1200nit Aspect ratio: 16:9 Colour gamut: Rec.709 HDTV with 3D LUT support HDR support: Sony, Canon, Panasonic, Arri, JVC and RED Log, 10-bit Inputs: HDMI, quad link 4x 3G SDI, 12G single link SDI Interfaces: Headphone socket, LANC control Media: 2.5in SSD/ HDD Weight: 5.6kg/ 12.3lb without batteries media and stand. Dimensions: 504x310x63mm, 19.8x 12.2x2.5in (without stand)
PRO MOVIEMAKER RATING: 8/10 The largest multi-function monitor/ recorder Pros: Can improve your footage, HDR ready Cons: Heavy to use on location
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