Last Friday we went with our pals at Bozboz to shoot a corporate video based around their client Quiet Mark's house at the Ideal Home Show. You'll be seeing a lot more of the Quiet Mark, a mark which certain brands will be able to carry if they can show their products fit the criteria of being almost silent and not interrupting the home environment. Quiet Mark have teamed up with brands like Lexus, Dyson and 20th Century Fox to ensure the house of the future has a lot less ambient noise than at present.
Bozboz are a leading Brighton based digital agency, we'll have the finished video up for you soon!
The Quiet Mark house - smack bang in the centre of the Ideal Home Show
Poppy Elliot - Quiet Mark's Marketing Director
The launch event was complemented by this lovely John Barry-esque sounding band.
Gloria Elliott, Chief Executive of the Noise Abatement Society and Chief Executive of Quiet Mark
How commerce effects art and re-exploring the analogue world as a positive influence upon the digital
I'm a self-labelled 'creative' who earns a living predominantly in the corporate and TV worlds. Has it ever occurred to me that I've 'sold out' or that my artistic vision is compromised? No, to be honest or I wouldn't have put myself into the position I'm in as Director of TV Commercials and corporate video company. There are easier ways to earn from our commercial system. Recently, however, I've been examining how I approach work both creatively and more relevantly technically.
My good friend and photographer Toby Deveson (http://www.tobydeveson.com/) recently pointed out this article about 'staying on the bus',(http://t.co/ZMjcP25nVX) keeping in the same direction if you want to get there. This led me to re-examine media I was working in when I first started out, to see how far I'd come, or deviated.
These days, laptop editing systems, FCP, Premier pro etc, are relatively easy for the novice to come by. When I was starting out I couldn't afford a steenbeck (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steenbeck for those who don't know), and so would practice editing by pausing and restarting two VHS players. Although never the most accurate process technically, it led me to really focus on what shots were required in the first place as well as producing some interesting edit points by 'mistake' which I could then learn from.
I also used to take a lot of 'print' photography on an old 35mm SLR. Not being able to see the results until they were printed, often weeks later, was not only exciting, it taught how you had to get the technical stuff right at the time of shooting. You couldn't just check back what you'd shot, re-adjust for exposure for example and take a hundred more pictures to be safe. That's the other thing, 35mm was either in rolls of 24 or 36 exposures. I also loved the surprises you might get when printing as well. The contrast was often extreme, especially in natural light, when these days I'm often shooting video for a 'flat look', but more of that later.
Thinking about this led me to dig out my old SLR. It's not pretty, an old Pentax thing, that needed an hour of cleaning after not having been used for over 8 years or so. But it did get me excited about shooting some film this weekend. I even managed to buy some good stock and posting the above led to a fair few comments and likes on Facebook, definitely sparking interest. I'll post the results, once developing and printing process has gone through.
Photography, though, has always been a hobby for me. I am first and foremost a video/moving image/film/tv director/shooter/artist – call it what you will. And I started to think about what the images my SLR might produce and looking at Toby's lovely photographs began wondering if I could use my Sony FS-100 video camera in the same way as an old school SLR.
I'd played around with picture profile settings a far bit before, following the likes of Philip Bloom in hunting for good settings for different lighting set-ups, or for getting the most out of the camera once the footage was imported into the post production work flow. Now, however I had a particular artistic image that I wanted to create. And not only image, I'm thinking of raising the shutter speed to make the video stutter more and give a whole 'photographic feel'. I used online crop factor conversion tables to work out I needed to set my lens at around 33mm if I wanted to give a look of a SLR 50mm lens. I played and played with the Picture Profile settings until I had something that looked right. Then I shot some test footage.
Then I imported it into FCP, played with the 3-way colour corrector and produced this image
Then I compared it to the original straight out of the camera shot that I had spent the time creating. I realised I liked the out of the camera look better and that what I had been doing was falling back on my corporate habits of trying to 'flatten' the image which was what this whole process was about avoiding. Let me know which you prefer.
I like the picture I've got now, but will continue to experiment. As the 'stay on the bus' article mentions it's important to find your own voice. However, doing corporate work isn't 'selling out' its using our skills to manipulate moving image to achieve what we want. Or what someone else wants. We use technical processes to provide that voice, whether it is our own or not. Creating a 'flat look' for the talking head of a company MD is voicing someone else's message but its an understanding of the variations within the creative process that enable us to be able to do it. We just shouldn't forget the old school artistic moments of expression that this medium opens us up to.
Brighton and Hove has long been a significant hub in the UK for video production both big and small. This particular article will concentrate on the smaller end of the scale, with adventurous film makers embarking on all kinds of endeavours assisted by the wealth of creative talent within the city.
The first port of call for any budding film maker in the Brighton and Hove area is to become trained in one of the many functions within the medium. There are a number of great courses within the colleges and two major universities (University of Sussex and University of Brighton) but the cherry on top is the excellent Brighton Film School, which trains in traditional 16 and 35mm film as well as digital. The school, which has recently come under new management, boasts board members including acclaimed Trainspotting DoP Brian Tufano and graduates including DJ and broadcaster Zoe Ball.
Once trained, there are a multitude of resources available to allow the Brighton Video Producer to tackle their first subject. The Brighton Film Makers Coalition is a regular long standing networking event where budding and established film makers can collude and cohort. Here you’ll get a good idea just how many talented and creative people live in Brighton. You may also be pleasantly surprised how many willing collaborators you will find at the Coalition – providing the project is good!
Another, video based resource has been set up by regular Butchers Hook production fixer – Gav O’Malley Richardson. Indiecan is a great resource for nationwide goings on, but has a keen focus on Brighton video production as this is their home turf too.
Once all the crew and finance is in place, it’s next vitally important that you have the right kit. The go to place in Brighton is definitely our friends at Promotion. Working from creative hub New England House, Promotion has all the kit you would care to imagine. Being a regional outpost of a major Soho hire house means that Brighton film makers can order all sorts of high end cameras, gibs, dollies and anything else they can think of.
The next step is to make sure all the locations are in place. Some film makers are prepared to “go guerrilla” but we’d suggest getting in touch with the very helpful Jo Osborne, events officer at Brighton and Hove City Council. Yes, you had to pony up a few quid to shoot on the public parks and certain other locations – but the results speak for themselves.
After the shoot, edit output – finally is the stage where you need to present your magnum opus to the public. In Brighton and Hove, there’s only one serious venue (well now two actually) to watch a film – The Duke of York's. This cinema, arguably the oldest purpose in the UK - has been operating for over 100 years and has been at the van guard of showing interesting and stimulating films since then. They run a programme where they regularly show films by local film makers – a great thrill for the first time video producer. Recently the Duke’s have opened up a new, beautifully turned out second cinema in the North Laine in Brighton. Called the Dukes at Komedia – this new sparkly addition to the Brighton culture scene is arguably the sexiest cinema in the UK.
Along with copyrighted images and logos, music is probably one of the most contentious legal issues for the video production company. It is also one of the least recognised, with people slinging in all sorts of copyrighted music without realising they are leaving themselves open to being sued by the person or company that produced it in the first place.
This might seem a touch unfair to the amateur video maker uploading videos online. Indeed, since the proliferation of web video thanks to YouTube and the other video platforms this issue has ballooned. YouTube’s work around is to use expensive software to identity copyrighted music in their customer’s videos and pay a flat fee to the copyright holder.
The same can’t be said about commercially produced web and corporate video, any use of copyrighted music leaves the production company AND their client wide open for copyright infringement. Many have been stung and a lot of lawyers have put their kids through college exploiting this. Fortunately, there are alternatives which involve an outlay in the short term, but can save a lot of money in the long-term.
The cheapest solution and with many good and not so good music library available online, certainly the most popular. Personally, we would recommend Audio Network, who provide a terrific range of quality music to suit all tastes. We most recently used them for the music for our TV advert for Canopies UK.
Having music written for a video is another good (although perhaps more expensive) alternative. Do be aware though that there is of course a great range of ability, so choose your musician carefully. Also be aware that music in video is easily the most personal aspect and which can cause the most disagreement – everybody has their individual music tastes and thinks they are right!
Also important when choosing your library or bespoke music is to be very clear about what period of buyout your need for the piece. If the video will only be on your client’s website for 6 months or a year, you will get one price. If the music is needed for longer, or in perpetuity, the price will most probably be higher. Again, you are setting yourself up for a fall if you miscalculate or give the wrong buyout period to the person supplying the music.
To conclude, music is certainly one of the most contentious areas of video production and certainly one that can cause headaches for all sorts of reasons. It pays to handle with care!
Happy new year everyone! Here, finally is the advert we shot in November for Canopies UK. It has been showing on TV since boxing day - on the following channels - ITV3, Yesterday, Alibi, Eden, Gold, Home, Turner Classic Movies and 5USA.
The HD video function of DSLRs such as the Canon 7D has sparked a renewed interest in low budget film and video making. This has led to an explosion of lower-budget video cameras being produced using similar technology. So if you've started in still photography or basic DSLR video shooting, what do you need to know when progressing on to cameras (such as our inhouse cameras, the Sony FS100) which have been designed specifically for video capture? This article will cover the various differences between the mediums and allow you to make the hop up to broadcast quality video.
Gain vs ISO
Gain and ISO are essentially different scales for the same thing (think fahrenheit vs centigrade).
ISO (also known as ASA) was used with photographic film to donate the speed of negative photographic materials. With DSLRs the ISO is an equivalent that refers to how sensitive the sensor is to the amount of light. A higher ISO means more sensitivity therefore you can see more with less light.
Gain is the same thing, an electronic amplification of the video signal, and was incorporated into camcorders before stills cameras became digital. Voltage is added to your sensor and is measured in decibels (dB).
The important thing to note, whether you're calling it ISO or Gain is that their use introduces noise into your video, which is especially problematic when doing a lot of post production work, including grading.
Purpose built video cameras often have more variable white balance, and often black balance, settings. As well as auto functions, you can manually set the white balance by shooting at a white subject (as with most DSLRs), but you can also dial in what Kelvin setting you want, which is great if say you want the image a bit warmer (though make sure your monitor is set correctly if judging by eye).
By setting a video camera to a "normal" shutter speed of 1/60th second (the time it takes to scan one video field in the NTSC standard), the electronic sampling is done at the maximum time allowed by the field rate of the TV system. This represents the maximum exposure possible with normal sampling. Changing the shutter speed when shooting video is useful in a number of situations. When filming computer screens or under certain lights you can adjust the shutter speed to reduce any flickering that may occur. When recording time-lapse you may also want to reduce the shutter speed to add some motion blur. When shooting slow motion you may want to increase the shutter speed to get sharper images (reduced motion blur).
Simply put camcorders have much greater functionality when recording sound. Most DSLRs still require an add-on to enable you to control the audio levels being recorded by the camera. Camcorders generally come with two XLR inputs as well as an onboard mic. As well as controlling the levels these inputs are normally switchable between 'Line;, 'Mic', and Mic +48v. You will also be able to control which mic input gets recorded to which of the two audio channels as well as being able to monitor each channel individually or as a 'mix'
Basically this shows (with a striped 'zebra' pattern') areas of the picture that are overexposed. There are two types of Zebra, 100 IRE or adjustable 70-90 IRE. With 70-90 IRE the Zebra pattern appears on highlights between 70 and 90 IRE, depending on how you set up the camcorder. IRE was labelled as such by the Institute of Radio Engineers and represents the composite video signal in terms of a percentage. 70-90 IRE is generally of use when filming interviews as you'd look to get some zebra patterning on the cheeks, forehead and nose.
With 100 IRE the zebra pattern shows any areas of the image that exceed 100 IRE which is the limit of legal (broadcast) video. Therefore when using this you adjust your exposure until the zebra patterning just disappears. These days many video cameras come with built in wave form monitors which can help with managing highlights.
Peaking is a monitor function that shows you the areas of your video that have the greatest sharpness. This aids focusing and with the increased use of dramatic shallow depth of field shots is a vital tool to using these large sensor cameras.
Area Safe modes or 'Guides'
Nowadays it’s easy to film in any aspect ratio, upload it to YouTube and job done - people will be able to watch your video. But what if you're progressing to filming commercials or programmes fit for TV broadcast. Commercials are still not yet broadcast in this country in 16:9 aspect ratio, although this is the normal for anyone shooting almost anything these days. This is where the Area safe mode on your camcorder monitor becomes vital. It'll put lines on the monitor that aren't recorded or 'burned in' to the video that show which of the image is in 4:3, or 16:9. There are also often options as to the ratio of guide lines you want to use if any giving you control over your shooting requirements.
Camcorder monitor showing 4:3 guide lines as well as 70 IRE zebra patterning which gives highlights on the face of the model.
Recorded image, bottom half with 30Db of gain
Detail of image with bottom half with 30db gain, you see more detail in the shadows but you get more grain or artefacts which become a problem if doing a lot of post production work such as grading.
To conclude, DLSRs have done wonders over the last few years for video capture, however there are limitations which can be overcome by switching to modern quality camcorders for video. This article has covered a few elements which will hopefully facilitate the change!
We've just returned from a challanging shoot (to say the least) up in Wigan and Selby, Yorkshire shooting a TV ad for Canopies UK. Here are some shots of the shoot, which included a rain machine, cast of 12, multiple locations and a naughty malfunctioning FS100 camera!
Our rain machine! Darren and his team regularly do Corrie, Hollyoaks and all those other Northern dramas
Evan and our Director of Photgraphy of choice, Steve setting up a dolly AND a jib!
Evan demo'ing the highly effective rain from the rain machine
Production fixer Gav O'Malley R slouching around in the hotel in Bolton - we had a top curry afterwards!
Gav "Onions" O'Malley standing in for a miserable car driver at the start of day 2.
Steve encased in his bag (to protect camera #2 from a soaking from the rain machine