Why our third camera is a GOPRO

As a professional producer of corporate and educational video, choosing cameras is a very serious business. Our prime consideration has always been value for money around which we have taken into account functionality, future proofing (as much as one can in this business) and cost.

To date we have settled upon the Panasonic AF101a as our main workhorse backed up with the Lumix GH4 which will give us if and when required 4K. Both cameras share the micro four thirds lens system and we are therefore able to swap lenses. The down side to these cameras is that they are cinema graphic and not really intended for run and gun shoots.

I had considered the GOPRO some time ago but was put off as at that time my understanding was it was a fish eye wide angle lens and used its own video format which needed conversion before mixing with other camera clips on the editing time line. This is no longer the case and the GOPRO Hero5 has exceeded my expectations not only does it now offer 4K but also a choice of lens angles from superview, wide, medium, linear and narrow. The quality of video that it produces is excellent and for us being designed as a quick autofocus camera with little sign of focus hunting it fulfils many applications within our business . Here are a few.

  • Great for hand held shots of two people talking/walking face on towards camera. good quality video with no focus issues. You would of course need to use a sound recorder as although acceptable for fun shots the audio is not of the high quality needed for drama or corporate shoots.
  • Great for low level shots of  plants insects etc. I did some random shots at a National Trust venue using a selfie stick and slowly pushing the camera through groups of daffodils also picking up pollinating bees.
  • Time lapse is a breeze with the GOPRO, it was designed for this and as it is waterproof you could set it up on a balcony for example and get great time lapse shots of cityscapes, sunsets etc.
  • Slow motion is brilliant as it can be set up to 240 fps which when placed on a 25fps time line gives very credible slow motion, dripping tap shots and the like
  • Its small size makes it ideal for shooting in public places where you may not wish to attract attention e.g stock shots of high streets, the hustle and bustle of moving feet etc.
  • Brilliant of course for in vehicle shots, capturing both driver/passenger and road shots, and of course what is was designed for, action shots from bikes, skis, snowboards and such.
  • Always at hand. I recently filmed a brewery tour as a test sequence. Using a selfie stick as support I filmed the tour and also shots inside vats that I could not have got with a conventional camera whilst on a site walkthrough.                                                                                           https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=V2MHaS1QYG8

These are just a few applications, we are discovering more every day. There is still a small element of fish eye even on narrow view, it is more of an issue if filming people beside straight line, door frames etc but this can be corrected in post.

So that is why our third camera is a GOPRO. We do not have a large budget for kit and I am sure that larger companies would query our camera choices, but it works for us and the three cameras offer us now a greater flexibility on shoots and of course multi camera angle on single takes.

As always if we can be of help to you with your production then please get in touch on:

01384 374767

07815 933597

bob@voxvisionvideoproductions.co.uk

http://www.voxvisionvideoproductions.co.uki

A focus on focus

Traditionally Voxvision have produced corporate and educational videos for such applications as training health and safety and website show reels, filmed and edited as a collection of scenes as in film and television style shooting. Occasionally we have been asked to video live events which although not our speciality we have at times undertaken dependant on the logistics of the event as this type of videography usually requires multiple cameras and a small crew to get it right.

We have videoed small conferences and podium presentations in the past and using our previous Canon XL2 SD video camera this has never been an issue as we have set it on autofocus and when appropriate zoomed in and out to make the picture more interesting remembering that this is a single camera set up and the event is live. But now we have invested in new technology and are using an HD camera more suited to cinematography. So what? I hear you ask , well here is the difference. No automatic zoom button and limited (slow) autofocus.

We recently undertook to video six presentations live on an exhibition stand at the NEC and I thought that I would have a practice at home prior to the event, changing from close up to mid shot, using the lens barrel to zoom and manual focus. I anticipated that I would have a few problems but to my surprise carrying out test shots at home following the basic rules of focus as used by seasoned cinema-graphic shooters I was pleased as to how effective it was. I zoomed the lens out to it’s maximum and focussed on an object slightly behind my subject. The panasonic AF101a has an electronic viewfinder detail facility (EVFDTL) which highlights the object in focus making it easy to ensure that it is pin sharp. Then I readjusted the zoom to frame my subject in close up. Low and behold when I then zoomed out for a mid shot they were still in focus

Sharon close up still

 

Sharon Mid shot

To facilitate easy movement of the lens barrel for zooming I attached a gear ring to the lens from my follow focus kit and used the protruding tightening screw as a lever to smoothly turn it. I did this because it was a live event and I would be amongst the audience in close proximity and wanted to keep things simple and not have to take or use my matte box rig which does have a zoom lever attachment. I found the zoom action using the gear ring relatively smooth and it could be facilitated using one finger which was easier than turning the barrel by hand.

On the days of the filming I used the above principle and for the majority of the shoot sharp focus was maintained. I analysed the few occasions where focus had gone soft and came to the following conclusions.

1/ My 14-140 Lumix lens is manual/autofocus without a selection switch  on the lens itself, and when the camera is switched off it does not hold the previous manual focus settings.

2/ Occasionally in my haste to get the job done in a live environment I forgot to FULLY zoom out before focussing on the farthest point thus shortening the depth of field.

Professionals out there used to live event filming with follow focus will be saying ‘But any fool knows this’. But for my part in some eight years of professional filming I have used a camera (Canon XL2) that has great auto focus and excellent built in Zoom facility with a relatively wide depth of field and I have always tended to play safe , use auto focus then switch over to manual to lock the shot (I consider myself an arty not a techy).

My conclusions drawn from this exercise were that I should have really been using this technique years ago. The end results would have been the same but by now it would be second nature. I hope that this something of a confession of laziness in the past helps new shooters get to grips with something that very often we take for granted -focus

Bob Sanderson M.M.Inst V. ALAM

Voxvision Video Productions Ltd

http://www.voxvisionvideoproductions.co.uk

bob@voxvisionvideoproductions.co.uk

01384 374767

07815 933597

Why Voxvision Video Productions chose the Panasonic AF101a

Image

We thought long and hard before committing ourselves to a camera platform for our newley launched HD video service and finally decided upon the Panasonic AF101A.

The reasons for purchasing this camera which has been around now for some four years were as follows: –

1/ High quality HD, filming natively up to 1080/50P

2/ Capability to capture video onto external recorder at 50mbps 4.2.2 which is acceptable by the BBC for television recording.

3/ Variable frame rate for slow and fast motion filming.

4/ Built in ND filters

5/ A true professional camcorder with XLR sockets and 48V phantom power for pro mics

6/ The AF101a accepts a multitude of lenses

7/ Shallow depth of field.

There are many many other great features on this camera but the above were the main must haves on our shopping list. As voxvision shoot a variety of styles and subjects from corporate and educational video, show reels, health and safety and training films, A true camcorder suited our shooting style best as it’s flexibility and ease of use particularly with regard to good quality sound were essential to the way we work.

Some have said what about the emergence of 4K as this is not an option on this camera. Well we gave this consideration and decided that when and if we get a demand for this we can purchase the panasonic GH4 at a reasonable price and use the AF101a Lenses making it an economic addition to our video tool kit.

The BBC approved the AF101a a couple of years ago and as we have ambitions to make daytime TV and commercials in the future it seemed the obvious choice based upon our available budget. We have been busy shooting test video with this camera and are very pleased with our purchase which has confirmed the many great reviews that we read prior to making our decision.

The next purchase for us will probably be an Atmos Samurai recorder to enable us to record at 50MBPS 4.2.2 and then we can seriously consider getting in on the ground floor of TV commercials and day time TV programme making.

If we can be of help to you in any way please do not hesitate to contact me

Regards

Bob

Bob Sanderson M.M.Inst.V ALAM

http://www.voxvisionvideoproductions.co.uk

bob@voxvisionvideoproductions.co.uk

01384 374767

07815933597

Voxvision are the first to discover America – Really?

FCPX with new iMac

Ok, so for us to make a big announcement that we are now offering High Definition video services is a bit like me landing at Los Angeles LAX airport and announcing that I’ve just discovered America, everyone knows it’s there but it’ s my first visit. So why are we such late adopters of this now everyday technology?  Well I shall endeavour to explain.

We launched our business in 2006 and invested heavily at the time in the best kit that we could afford, an Apple Mac Pro with Final Cut Pro Studio 5 and a Canon XL2 SD camera. Our clients back then were predominantly local authorities and educational establishments requiring videos on DVD, in fact some even struggled to find computers within their network capable of playing DVDs let alone BLURAY. The same could be said for our corporate clients for whom we were producing health and safety and training videos which were mainly shown projected in training rooms via laptops, so still no HD requirement here then.

As time passed we considered HD as it was now the latest buzzword but sadly Apple discontinued the development of Final Cut Pro Studio, our Mac Pro was past economical upgrading and Adobe creative suite was expensive especially as we would need to invest in a new computer platform. Sony had some reasonable HD camcorders within our budget but the technology was developing rapidly and we were still not getting requests to produce video in HD why spend large amounts unnecessarily.

Suddenly there was a revolution in the camera world, video on DSLR, yes ordinary still cameras producing near cinema quality video in HD with movie style pulled focus. But for me , a single shooter with a background in quality audio there was a problem. The DSLR for us seemed awkward for run and gun shoots where set up time was usually very short or at times non existent, and where were the XLR sockets for my high quality professional microphones? So still not ready for an HD investment.

Apple then introduced Final Cut Pro X as a replacement for FCP Studio but initially not to good reviews, so we continued to wait ( Clients still not asking us for HD). Apple then got FCPX to a professional standard and also brought out an iMac six times more powerful than my old Mac Pro so finally we worked out that we could upgrade now for a quarter of the price it would have cost us had we done so three years ago in addition to which there are now affordable camcorders offering DSLR cinema quality features in a convenient format more suited to our filming style. This year for the first time we have started to get requests for HD, particularly as most projects are now delivered via the web, so yes for us the time is right to announce that: –

Voxvision Video Productions Ltd are now offering broadcast quality High Definition video production Services.

So you see others may have discovered America but we arrived in comfy seats at bargain prices.

Bob Sanderson M.M.Inst.V., ALAM

Director

To discuss your video requirements please contact us on 01384 374767

http://www.voxvisionvideoproductions.co.uk

bob@voxvisionvideoproductions.co.uk

How to produce a short corporate video show reel for the web

Most companies these days have or are considering a short show reel for their website, a video that will give a quick overview of their organisation. But what is the best way of setting about producing such a video.

The first consideration is it’s length. We always advise our clients that less is more, in so much as people will not watch a long video on the web unless it is instructional or informative. Our advice for a show reel is a video of around one minute in length. “But that’s not long enough to tell someone all about our company” I hear you say, but you will be suprised, with a well written voice over you can convey a lot of information in just one minute.

Start by writing an overview of your organisation in just 14 lines of text on an A4 sheet, that equates to around 200 words. this will give you a voice over of approximately one minute. Now take a sheet of A4 and in landscape view draw a line down the middle. Place your written text on the right hand side and on the left hand side of the centre line, write, in line with the appropriate sentences, visual images that you would like to use to illustrate  your message in video.

So having decided what you want to say about your company and what you want to show, now discuss the project with a video production company such as ‘Voxvision Video Productions Ltd’. We will look at your ideas, edit the text into a format suitable for reading as a voice over and then we will work out the appropriate shots for your visual images in terms of close up, mid shot, long shots, tracked dolly shots etc.

Remember that before the day of the shoot ‘TIDY UP’. What the camera sees is what your clients will see. Do you want them to see untidy desks, piles of rubbish etc. This vital step is often forgotten and takes up valuable time on the day of the shoot if not done before hand.

If you have taken the time to work all of this out on paper first, the actual shoot for a one minute video will not take long. If it is all to be shot at one location it should only take a couple of hours or so.

Once edited, the voice over performed and appropriate licence free background music added your video is almost ready. Dont forget about your company logo which you may want not only at the begining and the end but possibly in the top left hand corner throughout the video.

The logo will need to be supplied to the video production company as a high resolution (300 dpi) Portable Network Graphic File (PNG). This will enable it to be inserted in the video  with a transparent background i.e without a white box around it.

Now all you need is for the production company to supply it to you as a file appropriately compressed for youtube as this seems to be the method by which most web designers prefer to place it on your website. The youtube link can also be used to market your company or it’s products via social media such as facebook, Twitter or Linkedin.

Voxvision Video Productions will also assist you with the scripting if required as you will need to decide if the purpose of the video is to sell, inform, instruct or call to action and this should be reflected in your script.

We hope that this helps you get started on producing the right video for your website. If you would like to discuss your project further with us, then please give me a call on: – 01384 374767

Bob Sanderson M.M.Inst.V.,ALAM

Director

Voxvision Video Productions Ltd

www.voxvisionvideoproductions.co.uk

New voice recording booth at Voxvision

Although Voxvision Video Productions is well known and respected for the production of quality corporate and educational video, we also produce quality voice recordings.

Always looking to improve on our service we recently constructed a sound booth to ensure that dry recordings (recordings without background music or effects) were as clean as possible.

This has proved to be very successful and we have just completed six projects for OCR (Oxford Cambridge and RSA examinations) voiceing training slides for examiners.

DSC_0451                                  DSC_0452

Over the years we have voiced not only our own video productions but also narrative for other video productions companies. We have produced character voices for animations and computer games, podcasts and audio for ‘Apps’ as well as audio inductions and training for colleges and our own audio web commercials.

Most of Voxvision’s voice work is performed by myself. As a professionally trained actor I have the ability to inject meaning and character into the voice readings that I undertake. We can however provide alternative professional voices if required and we have in the past recorded alternative audio tracks for video in foreign languages.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any requirements for either voice or video, we are always happy to discuss your requirements even if it is just to offer advice.

Bob Sanderson M.M.Inst.V.,ALAM
Director

01384 374767
07815 933597
bob@voxvisionvideoproductions.co.uk
http://www.voxvisionvideoproductions.co.uk

2013 the year so far

Voxvision Birthday Close up 1

2013 has started well for Voxvision Video Productions.

We have successfully completed a web commercial for BiOrganics showing the benefits of using their amazing Salon Secret Elixir. It was a great shoot completed in a top salon using a professional model and leading stylist Tim Scott Wright.

The shoot took the best part of a day and went very smoothly thanks to the client taking the time with our assitance to carefully script the video. The overall look as you can see from the video on youtube is good and this is because the client gave a lot of thought to dressing the set and co-ordinating colours.

Video Link: – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aA–XLOGRKw

This month we are working with a volunteer group producing a video for their forthcoming awards ceremony and will be including a narrative voice over provided by Voxvision as well as ‘talking heads’ from service users and volunteers.

Later in the month we are producing a training video for a client for whom we have previously made 22 application videos. As we have worked together before they now find it easy to develop by themselves scripts in our simple standard format which makes the actual video shoot a stress free enjoyable process as both the client and Voxvision know exactly what is required on the day.

We are also currently assisting a local authority linked client to produce a script for an information video that will inform their clients of what to expect when attending panels.

So, a good year so far and looking forward to being able to help many more new clients to make videos that are useful business tools.

If you feel that we can be of service to you please give me a call so that we can discuss your requirements, we are here to help and do not pressure sell.

Bob Sanderson MM Inst.V., ALAM

Director

01384 374767

07815 933597

www.voxvisionvideoproductions.co.uk