F3 Day(s)-Day 2

OK. So we decided to do some more testing with the F3 before we started shooting for realliezzz. We had a bit of a camera party / geek fest at my house and grouped my EX3, 5Dmk2, my buddy’s 7D’s and the F3. It was quite a mess =) We also added the Steadicam into the mix to see which cameras would fit and stay balanced.

First off we wanted to compare the F3 and the 7D since they are almost the same in sensor size. The FoV was very close. A 35mm lens on the 7D was just about the same as the F3 with the Sony 35mm prime attached. The F3 of course was more sensitive over all but the 7D held up pretty well in overall image. Of course you can’t really do apples to apples as you have all the monitoring options you would ever want on the F3 and are kind of limited to putting together an HDMI array with splitters and Black Magic Designs converter boxes for the 7D.

Comparing the F3 to my EX3, the functionality was really almost the same. The F3 felt a lot like running my EX3 (with out a zoom rocker…). The menus and adjustments all worked similarly. The audio was the same work flow. And there are a ton of shortcut buttons on the F3…

I have a Hawk-Woods V-mount power plate I use with my 5D rig and found I can make that work with the F3 just fine. It allows me use a V-mount brick to power all sorts of goodies on the rig (it has 5 D-Tap outs). So, one D-Tap to 4-pin cable and I’m all set. I have an IDX adapter for my EX3 and use the same V-mount bricks on it. I like the B4B bricks, they have a nice long life and are pretty ruggedly built. I adapted my JVC – 17″ HD monitor to use the same bricks as well. Basically everything that needs battery power in my rigs now run off the V-mount batts.

With the Steadicam, all of the cameras worked. I had to strip the F3 down quite a bit – no matte box, no follow focus – but it work =) This Steadicam is set for 5 to 20 lbs. We came in at about 16 lbs all rigged. The EX3 and the Canons worked very nicely on the Steadicam. I almost had to ad a little weight to the lighter configurations to balance out…

Well that’s about it for now. I’ll have more to report after a couple of real shooting days with the F3. I’m looking forward to a potential project we have coming up where there will be a mix of EX3’s and F3’s on location – I want to see how well they play together on the same set.


Sony PMW-F3 and Corporate Video or: how I took the primes and learned to love the zoom

At least our first outing with the F3 didn’t bomb… The following is a quick recap of our experiences with the F3 during a typical corporate interview project.

Quite a bit different from the gorgeous sunrise / sunset, stage footage that seems to be popping up all over the web showing off the fantastic capabilities of the new F3; a straight ahead corporate shoot has a unique set of challenges and potential pitfalls. Granted you are not hiking into the back areas of Yellow Stone or running a 30 person set with all the trimmings – but you are usually tied to certain time constraints and have some limited space and lighting control. All that being said I think we can read into this post with the right mind set =)

The F3 operates a lot like it’s EX brethren. Most of the same menu functions and settings apply. For instance, the audio knobs are in a different place and I had to remind myself to stop looking the the “Internal / External” mic switch. It’s back to old-school plug in the mics you want to use. We were running with one wireless for the day and decided to send the feed to both channels 1 & 2 and keep channel 2 at -6dB as a safety. Same as an EX1 or 3 to set up. I put the Sennheiser EW100 at 0dB AF output and ran the transmitter at -20dB sensitivity. At the end of the day I wish I would have run the transmitter at -30dB – our last interview had a booming voice at times and I got a little close on channel 1 to the red…

OK, a little more about this title (aside from the obvious Dr. Strangelove homage). We had our full set of Sony primes: 35mm, 50mm and 85mm with us but I wanted to run with the RED 18-50 all day. I felt the zoom would keep us moving fast and on schedule. The crop factor on the F3 is almost identical to the 7D (see my F3 Days-Day 2 post) so the 18-50 was more like a 28-80mm focal length. We decided to buy the RED as it does talk to the F3 through the cook contacts and is fairly reasonable in price — all things considered — for a PL zoom. It looks quite nice. Outdoors we use it at a ƒ2.8/4 split with both NDs kicked in. When we moved inside we ran WFO at ƒ2.8 and adjusted our key to match. Interestingly a little soft… I had to use the “Expand Focus” a lot to nail the eyes. I had the peaking set and was getting good readings but when you looked at the feed on my JVC 17″ HD monitor it “just looked soft”. In retrospect I think WFO is not the best choice for this (or any) lens… I should have run a little closer to 4 and played my 1/3 – 2/3 ratio a little more to shallow the DoF. We got a nice look though =)

Another thing we noticed, from a mechanical stand point, is our matte box from our EX3’s is just a bit small for the shade on the RED 18-50 to fit through… saw a little vignetting. We made the decision to just push through the vignetting at 20mm – it was real close – no biggy. I’m talking to the manufacturer about a backmount flange replacement to solve this. Just the kind of things you find as you are going through… The matte box opening is 100mm and the shade is 114… Oops – my bad.

I set up the camera with the RedRock rails and support base. The sliding plate makes balancing a breeze. I have these plates and receivers on all my cameras and tripods. Sachtler plate $85 – Manfrotto 357 plate system $49, additional plates $27 — Duh =) This system works great with our matte box and RedRock v2 follow focus. We put an ARRI focus ring on the EX3’s. It’s nice all the PL lenses have the proper .8 focus rings/gears built in.

The HUD in the monitor is very informative just like the EX1 and 3. I use the dual zebras and peaking a lot. The histogram is handy depending on wardrobe. Audio levels metering is so nice after spending time this year working with my 5D+Zoom – I can see the levels through the picture and never have to look away at the Zoom. As I said, the RED lens talks to the camera so the aperture, zoom and focus distance displays all work – Cool.

Coming into the home stretch… Using the F3 with the 17″ HD client monitor was great – both for composition and focus watch dogs… The hardest thing about transitioning from the EX1’s and 3’s and other ENG cameras to the shallow DoF rigs is the tendency to still just “wing it”. You can do that with an ENG rig in running and gunning mode but with a 5D or F3 or any of the shallow DoF cameras it’s a challenge. I often have to “retrain” the producers I am working with to not just say “grab the camera and lets go… Oh by the way, I need this shot to be really shallow and sexy” – while we run along side a person moving through a back-lit office setting… It’s back to basics: good blocking + good rehearsal = good focus.

Well, thanks for checking out another TD Blog. Looking forward to the next time,


Sony PMW-F3 Day(s)

Well, it arrived… No, not mine… But still very cool =)

One of the companies I work with received their new F3 last Friday so we made a day of it. John Denlinger, Blackstone Media Group, Irvine, CA got one of the first F3’s being shipped. We did some menu tests and lens tests – he got the Sony Primes with the F3. – We also did some ambient lighting test – Wow. The camera worked very well. We added the Marvelsfilm picture profile settings to one of the open profiles. (we used the EX3 settings as they were very close to the F3 profile layout and there isn’t a dedicated F3 version yet) With the Marvel profile you loose about a 1.5 stops -but it’s very worth it for the latitude you gain – at least until the new firmware update comes out.

Then this week we were lucky enough to catch up with Brad Hagen and Alan Thornton at Video Resources in Orange County to try out their set of RED Primes and Zooms. Good news — the lenses and camera talk!!! We used the Type C lens protocol in the F3 and got full iris info and then on the zooms the focal lengths were translated into the familiar Sony 00 to 99 Zoom measurement.

The look of the image bokeh and fall off is about equal to that of a Canon 7d. The image clarity is outstanding. For the most part, I think this camera, when the ENG style zoom lenses arrive will have a very strong foothold in the professional and corporate markets. The use of PL zooms makes setting your shots as fast as working with an EX3 or other ENG / EFP camera. The benefits of the F3 over the EX3 in sensitivity, lensing and ultimately output formats is definitely clear. Now we just have to wait for Birger Engineering to catch up to the F3 for using Canon EF lenses =)

Until next time,


Covering Corporate Events ENG Style – Q&A Answers

Hi Everyone,

I really enjoyed working with Marcelo from Filmmakingwebinars.com this morning for the Covering Corporate Events ENG Style webinar. It was a lot of fun and I hope you all found something of use from the presentation. You all sent in a great bunch of questions. So many in fact that I couldn’t get through them all during the show. I asked Marcelo if I could post the rest of the answers on my blog and he was kind enough to agree. So here we go… =)

Can you say a bit more about the green canceling/blue canceling gels on the backlights for chroma key setups?
The rules I use are Magenta gel for a green screen setup and Yellow or Straw gel for blue screen. If you look on a color wheel these are the almost exact opposites for the screen colors. It will help give you cleaner edges around your subjects and through their hair.

How practical is it to use DSLRs for live events?

To capture little clips of the event and quick interviews – very nice. To try and get the long form meetings I’d stick with a more traditional camera shooting cards or tapes.

What about live stream?
Live streaming is great. If you can get a clean “HARD WIRED” connection to the internet with a speed of at least 500kps to handle your upstream and confidence return you should be fine. You will want to use a “mirroring company” to re-broadcast your feed to the world. I would suggest a company like Playstream or Ustream.

Prefer LCD, or EVF? LCD lets me capture footage, but still be “present” at event and aware of surroundings…
I use both. I agree, the EVF is a little more confining at times but is great out doors. In the general sessions and in room settings I use the LCD. It’s a little easier on the eyes and once I have the framing and focus it’s kind of an auto pilot follow and go tool.

Explain why not to reuse tapes.
In the old BetaCam days when the tapes were $30 to $40 each and a lot more robust it made since to use them multiple times. But with MiniDV and HDV tapes being sooooo thin and subject to transport stress I try and run them through the camera and deck as few times as possible. Also the efficacy of the tape to retain the signal starts to fade with every re-use. You will most likely have drop outs by the second use. It just became not practical to risk a $4k or $5k show on re-used $3.00 tape =)

At $800-900 the SxS cards are a bit steep. Any alternatives?
Try the Hoodman RAW SxSxSDHD adapter and RAW SDHC cards. A real nice alternative. Also a good work around to the new MacBookPro SD slots

Which has the quicker turnaround time? Either to go with tape based cameras plus its tape ingestion after the event, or a file based camera with SxS card conversion after the event?
I found the card based system to be a faster solution in the long run. Also, depending on your NLE, new plug-ins are coming out soon that will allow you to drop the native footage right in with no conversion. Stay tuned for that =)

How do you handle heat dissipation on the 5Dii?
I have not run into an overheating situation with my 5Dmk2 yet… I stop the ‘LIVE VIEW” as often as possible and usually do takes not lasting more than about 6 to 7 minutes. If I know the project parameters will be more demanding I’ll bring out the EX3 or other long form camera for the job. For long form shallow DoF projects I use a Letus 35 Extreme on my EX3 with Nikon primes.

Remote trigger switch for the DSLR cameras (for the video, not shutter)? Any suggestions?
I use the Canon TC-80N3 time laps/shutter release – a tad spendy for your needs . You can probably find a cheaper solution from Dot Line or another manufacturer =)

When shooting with the 5D Mark II, it cannot output an HD signal when in record mode – it can then only output an SD signal. How do you get around this for dealing with critical focus, considering the LCD screen on the back is disabled (with the HDMI output connector engaged)?
That is a good one!!! =) I think we are all waiting for a viable realtime solution. I think it’s going to come in the form of a new camera – either Canon’s or RED or Sony. As far as dealing with the current 5Dmk2 I work shallow DoF shots in only in controlled settings like interviews with people seated in chairs. If I am running and gunning I don’t open more than a F5.6. Also I use a
Marshall monitor with peaking – not the total answer but very helpful.

What was that model number for the wireless mics again?
Sennheiser Evolution G3 100 Series A great kit for the price.

What was that $600 shotgun mic brand again that compares with a Schoeps?
Audio Technica AT4073a. Although I just noticed they have discontinued this model… I think they have replaced it with the Audio Technica BP 4073. I would welcome your feedback =)

Please identify that cable to control impedance when using the Zoom.
Sescom LN2MIC-ZMH4-MON 3.5mm Line to Mic with 25dB Attenuator for Zoom H4N with Headphone Monitoring Jack. Just heard about this one.

How much lighting do you take for “man on the street” type of interview?
I usually take an on-camera light and have a bounce reflector in my backpack. If I know I’m going to need a little more, I’ll take a Lowel DP light with a sheet of diffusion, CTB and blue prime. Also a 25′ AC cable. These should all fit in the backpack nicely.

I have experienced that my 7D stops recording after i.e. 15 minutes (with a 16 GB card in with still a lot of free space). Anyone experienced that?
That has to do with the format Canon uses with the CF cards – FAT32. It has a 4GIG limit to the file sizes and that in turn translates into about 12 minutes (on a 5Dmk2) or about 15 minutes on a 7D. There are many ideas as to why this format was chosen – I think only Canon knows for sure.

How do you handle pricing and payments? 50% up front?
Yes. I do 50% up front. I try and make the numbers work so the 50% covers all my “hard” costs for the show. Then I’m only waiting for the balance to cover me. To that end, I occasionally offer a discount on the balance if they pay right away.

Slating interviews? Do you? For syncing sound in DSLR footage?
I do my slating of info by shooting their badge at the beginning of the interview. For sync I use Plural Eyes from Singular Software in post to line up the camera sound and the external recorder’s tracks. If you don’t have Plural Eyes a good hand clap once both the DSLR and sound are “rolling” usually works great. Lastly, If you are on a job were they interviewees don’t wear badges, you can use an iPad or iPhone to slate with apps like iSlate or other such apps

Any favorite settings for setting up your DSLR camera? What about your EX3?
I like the Marvels Film settings for both EX3 and the 5Dmk2. I also like the 5D/7D settings from Crooked Path Films.

What settings do you start with on the xlr plug-on that you showed? -20db???
If I am using it with a handheld mic or shotgun mic I usually work around -20. This gives me plenty of gain makeup room at the receiver end. If I am running LINE level into it I will set it at -50 and ask the sound person providing the feed to send me a test level to make sure I’m still in bounds on the built-in meter while I take a listen in the headphones.

What video camera/HDSLR and audio capture gear would you recommend to get the best footage in these situations?
This is a very broad question =) Here is one combo I like but there are so many:
Camera: Canon 5Dmk2 or Sony EX3
Sound: ZOOM H4n

How do you handle 16×9 production and 4×3 screens?
Turn on your 4:3 markers and work inside those for the 4:3 finish.

How do you assess the capability of on-site video staff to assist with getting footage ‘to air’?
Take some test footage from your editor to them early on and have them run it on their system so you can look at it on the screens. This confirms they can run you footage and gives you an idea of what it will look like on the screens.

Do you use DSLR’s ENG style?
Some times. As you saw in the photos I can rig it out pretty big. That being said, I like to keep my DSLR in the Body/Lens only config and use it in tight places or low light situations.

Assuming using available light, how do you best deal with white balance? In camera or in post?
I try and white balance in each new setting. If I’m running back and forth indoor and out door, I’ll set 2 presets and switch between those for the shoot. As for color balancing in post, I judge the shot and do a fast clean up if necessary. I don’t really get into “Grading” for the on-site editing.

5DmkII All Grown Up

So since my last entry for the 5D I have added a few new goodies to the rig… As you can see (kind of) I have the whole enchalada mounted in an cage (love it) which makes grabbing this camera and using it a dream. The cage is made by Easom and this particular version is called the Halo. It provides 2 ribs for connecting the upper and lower sections and I have them staggered here. Their other model called the Solo has only 1 rib – an equally nice cage. Also I found a great D-Tap power distribution company: Hawk-Woods in the UK. They sell a kit that allows you to use you V-mount batteries with DSLRs by way of voltage regulating the power with the adapter that goes into your camera where the battery fits. Now I power my camera, monitor and any other goodies from a single B4B V-mount battery. This is a mid sized battery 6Ah/90Wh and lasts about 2 to 3 hours each.

To go with the “all growed up” look I added my RedRock follow focus and CA Vision matte box. I had to go up to 18″ rods to make everything fit and balance out but it all sits there nicely now. I put a small Pony clamp on the back of the cage handle and slid both of my Sennheiser wireless receivers on there for a tight cable package. I used XLR splitters to feed the mic’s outputs to both the ZOOM and the 5D at moc level. There is an XLR to stereo mini adapter cable in there going into the 5D itself.

Rounding out the system I have a Zoom H4n mounted to another part of the cage and my Marshall monitor is being held on my a Manfrotto mid sized articulating arm. It all fits… and comes in at about 16.2 Lbs…. ouch =) I have another Noga arm on order that should drop a pound or two off the total weight of the package. I’ll keep you posted.



This new and not new site is terrific!!! They offer really helpful tips and tricks on digital film making, media managing and all sorts of other great tools for aspiring movie makers. So, I’m a little biased… they have asked me to do a segment on corporate events and how to cover them ENG style.

This company is a part of NewMediaWebinars.com which has been around for some time. Great work on bring info to the masses. This particular webinar that I am doing will focus on the steps used to do a successful coverage of a corporate event or retreat. We will talk about planing the shooting days out. Shooting for the edit. Camera choices and media management techniques. It should be helpful for viewer of all skill levels =)

The Webinar will be live February 17th from 10am to 11:30am PST and the be available for download starting the next day. There will be a small price for the download version but you will get a lot of extras that won’t be in the initial live airing. To listen and view check out www.filmmakingwebinars.com for all the latest info.

Thanks for stopping by. Until next time,


Canon 60D – first impressions

Just got the new Canon 60D camera this week as a second camera and back up to my 5Dmk2. I’ve only had a few minutes to play around with the menus and do my basic setups for my style of DSLR video work. Seems really straight forward. Easy to move around in and match most of my 5D settings. The audio is manual or auto just like the 5D ( Yeah!!! ) and has the same menu settings and adjustments.

The 60D uses SD cards as apposed to CF cards – that was a little bit of a surprise. But I use Hoodman RAW cards with their adapters on my EX3 as a backup kit for the SxS cards – so I just grabbed one of those and was good to go. They are Class 6+.

With both the 24-70 2.8 and the 70-200 2.8 lenses the 60D did a great job of focus and control. FAST autowinding. Wow. I had to turn that off… I hit a test run on the shutter release and fired off like 30 shots.

The pop out LCD panel is a real nice feature. I almost feel I don’t have to put my Marshall on top to use the camera… We’ll see…

Well that’s it for now. I’ll have more to report once I’ve used it on a set and gotten the “in the trenches” feel for the camera =)


Creatashpere 2010

This year’s show was the best yet. There were many new vendors to show their wares and new, up to date exhibits. LOTS MORE 3D !!!! Great to see all the support this new technology is getting.

Things that really got my attention were the Genus / Manfrotto booth, the GlideCam booth, the Da Vince Resolve software and the Panasonic AF100 exhibit – very cool. Also we checked out Able Cine, O’Conner and Samy’s.

The lectures were very good – we attended the DSLR intensive given by Bruce Dorn: iDC Photo Video. Great talk. Good Q&A.

Looking forward to next year’s events.


5Dm2 as a still camera

I have been having the best time just using my 5Dm2 for stills. I’ve shot Nikons for over 10 years and really like them for their ease of use and general sharpness. I was mostly using medium-fi glass and Nikon’s basic SB28 flash.

Enter the 5D. I put it all in one lens – the Canon L series 24-70 2.8. Very sharp. I bought the 430 mid-pro flash – again, very nice. Now even if I’m just doing a quick snapshot at a party the images come out great. The product stuff I’ve been shooting for my wife looks terrific. Shallow DoF!!! I love the ISO up to 3200 (let alone 6400) and still holding a good image.

Basically it’s just a great camera. I thought I would only use it for HD video… Nope. It’s becoming one of my new favorite tools =)


ZOOM H4n Digital Recorder

Recently got to use the new ZOOM H4n on a project to track GOPRO cameras in a car interior setting – Worked great. We first used them with the internal mics place near the interviewee – that worked OK but had a little too much road noise. Plan B, we already had the people miked from the other part of the interview process with Lectrsonic 195 systems so we just added the ZOOMs to our field mixer bags and set those in the back seat during the “on-the-road” interviews and used hand claps to sync them up later. Sounded great.

Things we learned:

  • 4gig – class 4 cards were fine
  • 48/16 WAV files fit right into the edit
  • Batteries would last almost all day – 10 hours
  • New front panel design was much easier to read and operate
  • Mic level in to the XLRs from the mixers worked great*
  • Gain staging mixer to H4n had plenty of wiggle and head room
  • Make sure you don’t bump the MIC/1&2 buttons – Silence… OOPs
*In preparation I had done a lot of reading up on the new H4n and most said “no line in”. I understand the combo inputs are designed to accommodate HIGH impedance signals from guitars and basses 10k. Well I did some testing after the shoot, -10 line out of my FP33 @ 0vu yielded a nice signal when the record levels on the ZOOM are set relatively low. No sonic coloration that I could hear – Tone and Dialog.

I have the H2 and the H4n. The H2 stays with my FP33 as a piggy back dual system recorder and the H4n stays with the 5Dm2. Nice kit to have…