I was fortunate enough to be covering new gear at NAB for Filmmaker Magazine. It was my first time there and overall a great experience. There was a lot of cool updates and little gear solutions like clever light stands or inflatable softboxes, but no one item that totally blew me away. Here are some of my overall observations of the festival as a whole: 4 Observations from a First Time NAB Experience.
In no particular order, here’s a rundown of what I wrote about.
DJI is releasing their own gyro stabilizing rig like the MoVI called Ronin. It’ll be $5k.
I got to play with the GH4 before it came out and learned a few things. I adjusted my order to drop the YAGH Interface. The upcoming Atomos Shogun looks like a better solution.
Edelkrone has a whole series of pocket rigs, ranging from sliders to handles to rails.
Handy grip gear from Manfrotto and Matthews.
iOpgraher is a handy iPhone / iPad rig.
Airbox softens LED lights.
Tenba has a camera bag just for GoPros.
The two big camera announcements were Blackmagic’s URSA and AJA’s CION (lots of caps). I was more impressed with URSA.
Lowel is coming out with a small LED fresnel light. It’s adapted from a handheld rig they have which really only has a use for event videographers. But now it’ll be stand mountable with a battery accessory. Decent option on the low end of LED glass lights.
At the beginning of last month Apple came out with another great commercial featuring day in the life activities of people around the world using Apple products seamlessly in their life. The kicker at the end of the video is that the commercial itself was all shot on an iPhone.
Everything in the video was shot on the same day (January 24, their 30th anniversary) and they released this BTS video showing how it was made with this futuristic video control center with FaceTime feeds of camera crews around the globe.
While the filmmaking mission control center of the future was cool, what struck me was the amount of rigs and gear used in the production. I knew there would be some extra behind the scenes magic used, especially with the disclaimer at the end “Additional apps and equipment used.” But I didn’t realize it was this heavy duty.
Swap out the iPhone with an Alexa or RED camera and it would look like the production of any other Apple commercial. While that does say a lot about the iPhone 5s’ image sensor, I think it says even more for the importance of camera rigs and professional crew and operators to get fantastic images.
Here’s a mashup of my favorite rigs:
iPhone on a MoVI?
iPhone on a boom
iPhone on a crane
Last week Panasonic announced their long rumored 4K successor to the GH3, the aptly named GH4. The high resolution in a body that’s expected to be under $2000 drew lots of attention and comparisons to the only other comparably priced 4K camera, the Blackmagic Production Camera, which has since gone down to just under $3000.
But Panasonic also announced a new accessory specifically for the GH4 that adds pro-level video features you’re not going to find in anything under $10,000, the YAGH Interface Unit (not the sexiest of names). If you’re looking at this camera for video work (and why else would you care about 4K if you weren’t shooting video?) you’ve got to look at it as a whole package.
The YAGH adds 2 XLR inputs with audio level controls and monitoring, uncompressed 4K SDI out, timecode sync, DC power in, and some sort of rail system for lens support and accessories. The XLR inputs are what really sold me. No more relying on fragile 3.5 mm inputs or dealing with sync sound later. Plus if you need to run-and-gun you can take it off and go with the very capable Panasonic MS2 shotgun mic, built specifically to work with these cameras. If we assume the unit will be under $1000, that’s $3000 (probably less) for a 4K camera with pro-level features. That’s crazy.
I’d say that’s comparable to the Canon C500, a $20,000 camera, except unlike that camera the GH4 can actually record 4K without the need of an external recorder. Of course they’re not equal – the C500 has a Super 35 sensor and RAW 4K, but that’s up to you if it’s worth an extra $17,000 (plus an external recorder if you actually want to record 4K). Of course if you’re interested in RAW 4K, there’s the Blackmagic for $3000, but you’re not going to be running-and-gunning with that camera. It’ll be interesting to see the Zacuto 4K shootout once all these camera’s are officially out.
Here’s some 4K sample footage. You can find more videos of the camera in action at No Film School (nothing on the YAGH).
We finally got most of the gear up and running and kicked it up a notch to start filming the machete fighters in slow motion on a steadicam.
To break down the setup, we’ve got the Sony FS700 (left) owned by DP Richard Patterson. This camera was released with a future 4K upgrade in the pipeline which just came out. The 4K requires two additional devices, the HXR-IFR5 interface (center) and the AXS-R5 recorder (right). The IFR5 interface connects to the camera through the SDI port and the recorder holds the SSD media for recording. AbelCine rented the R5 recorder to the production at a discount and the IFR5 was purchased from Sony.
To me, more appealing than the 4K from this setup is the ability to shoot unlimited slow-motion at 2K at 120 fps. Normally when shooting slow-motion on the FS700 you only have an 8 second window to record the action, then you have to wait for the camera to buffer the recording before you can shoot again. It’s a lot of down time and not ideal for recording machete fights with subjects not used to the technicalities of film production. This setup lets us record slow-motion at 2K (or 4K with buffering) for as much memory as we have, which is 20 minutes of action on a 512 GB SSD card.
I’m writing a full hands-on review of the experience when we’re done with production for Filmmaker Magazine, so there will be lots more information about the camera and some of the issues we ran into. There will also be a lot of insight from Richard, who will have worked with the setup firsthand for two weeks.
Follow the project on Facebook and help support it at the GoFundMe page.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and we’ll work on answering it.
Been in Haiti for the past few days for the currently untitled Haitian Machete Fencing Project. It’s a short doc on Tiré Machet, a martial art of machete fencing mastered and taught by professor Avril.
It’s going to be very cinematically shot. We’ve got the Sony FS700 with the just released 4k recorder along with a Steadicam. Been having some issues with noise with the Sony, which will hopefully be resolved today. I’m writing up a full report of shooting with the 4k for Filmmaker once the shoot is done.
Over the weekend we went location scouting. Found this amazing 200+ year old fort on top of the mountain named Cap Rouge, explored some sugar cane fields right next to our hotel, and met with the professor for the first time. After sipping some rum he gave us all our first lesson.
You can check out some of the highlights in our first video update.
Earlier this year I co-produced two video pieces for the New York Times. The first was on retirement communities in South Florida that are seeing an increase in baby boomers moving in but were still working. They didn’t want to retire, it was just a good real estate deal and when they do end up retiring they’re already set up.
The other video is on an Evangelical church in Central Florida that is in support of immigration reform.
Both were shot with the Panasonic GH3. For the retirement video, some areas were a little sensitive to larger cameras. So I shot some parts with the FiLMiC Pro app on the iPhone. Turned out great. I kept the subject mic’d, had the receiver and sound recorder in my pocket. Footage sync’d up great.
For the driving shots I used a suction cup camera mount stuck on the inside of a partially lowered window, pointing out.