Category Archives: Technical Skills

Vision blue3 Vinten tripod review

Working in the Entertainment world of the media industry it’s always important for me to be able to get access to the equipment I use quickly and efficiently. The new Vision blue3 tripod from Vinten, has done just that. With its ease of use, flexible positioning and the amazing balance and drag control, I was very impressed with this new edition to the Vision blue series.

Once I received it, I had the tripod up and running in around 28 seconds (yes I timed it!) and the camera was attached ready to capture all the tension and drama of people emailing and walking around the office within a minute (what can I say, it’s a quiet week).

Seriously though, it’s reassuring to know though that if I am filming a sit down interview in a limited time, that I am confident the equipment I use will not only work correctly but be easy and simple to assemble. There’s nothing more embarrassing than when you’re trying to prop up one side of the tripod with your shoulder whilst adjusting the length of a leg and the tripod head slackens from poor manufacture and the camera wilts to one side. During this time, the talent is sat watching the live theatre comedy act before them.

The tripod head is so silky and amazing to use; it glides smoothly both for a tilt and a pan. As ever there’s the ability to adjust the resistance and a helpful balance bubble so you’re shots don’t turn out unintentionally Dutch. I couldn’t seem to find the button to illuminate the bubble, which is apparently available, and a function that we all know is only missed when not present. No one likes the task of holding a mobile phone in their mouth, trying to emit a light good enough to balance the bubble whilst two hands are already occupied.

When I took the tripod out for some ‘off road’ testing with a DSLR, it was great to know the legs could be individually adjusted, especially for those perfect wildlife shots when you might need the equipment to be stationary and static for an unlimited time. The pozi-loc clamps also contributed to the ease of use, allowing instant height alteration without fumbling with sticky screw adjustment clips.

One thing for those of you who buy the Vinten blue3 new, be aware that the rubber holders that keep the spreader attached to the legs are very stiff and need a lot of encouragement to be released.

The only other feature that I found required some muscular contribution was the bag the tripod came in weighed a considerable amount. Noteworthy for if you are travelling abroad or walking a distance… and no, this is not just because I am a woman! I did ask others to test out the weight and they agreed that for a tripod such as the Vinten bue3, you might need to invest in a more lightweight protective bag.

Overall I am yet again very impressed to this new edition to the Vinten family. The minor features I found couldn’t ever overshadow its professional and proficient manufacture. I can’t wait to see what other delights Vinten has in store for the future of filmmaking.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of my own and not my employer.

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Eurovision, EastEnders, Strictly and more!

I think there needs to be some equation set out that explains the disinterest in blogging and tweeting if you do it in your work-life. Something along the lines of…

blogging + work = not blogging at home

There, that can be it! Not sure what all these mathematicians and scientists are singing and dancing about…. equations are actually quite easy.

Anyway, since my last entry so much has changed! Life seems to have a fun way of twisting and turning in such a short space of time and before you know it a year has already passed, you’ve done two months on EastEnders (as blogger Guest Insider) and you are back to working on Strictly Come Dancing.

Gemma presenting at Playback

Me presenting at my playback session

I guess the most recent thing that has happened has been my presentation about integration and how successful it can be to a production. Using Eurovision 2011 as an example, I gave my top 5 tips to getting the most out of Multiplatform and Linear teams working together.

Gemma Hodgson

Me presenting at my Playback session

They were:
1. Be positive– I knows sounds totally cliché but it’s amazing how many ideas get turned down within the first sentence because of the word ‘no’ aka ‘can’t be bothered to investigate’

2. Do your research – I think as well as being part of the Multiplatform team, it’s also your job to educate the linear teams about what is possible regarding audience interaction these days. And to also let them know how cheap it can be these days!

3. Get involved – being a self shooting, self editing ACP means that I can film and edit for the linear teams. It’s a great way to really feel part of a team so if you have and skills, even if they are very basic, get practicing so that next time someone needs something covering you can put your services forward.

Gemma Hodgson

Presenting at my playback session

4. Be flexible – It’s clear that you aren’t going to work office hours anymore, especially when the production really gets going. It’s important to understand and remember this!

5. Finally, learn the lingo – Not only is it your job to educate people about the world of the web but also, to help with team morale and getting involved – see tip 3 ;o) – learn the lingo of the TV production. It really helps you to feel part of something more than ‘just the web’

So they are the top tips I presented. It was a very interesting experience and one that I really enjoyed. It’s really helped me to get focused for upcoming events.

Soon I shall be working on Strictly and I have already set reminders to help me blog each week about my experiences. It’s certainly set to be an interesting autumn!!

The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of my own and not my employer.

Why 3D films will never catch on

After a brief mooch on Digg, I found this interesting article about how 3D will never catch on. Taken from a letter written by film editor Walter Murch, there are a few points worth a think…

“The biggest problem with 3D, though, is the “convergence/focus” issue. A couple of the other issues — darkness and “smallness” — are at least theoretically solvable. But the deeper problem is that the audience must focus their eyes at the plane of the screen — say it is 80 feet away. This is constant no matter what.

But their eyes must converge at perhaps 10 feet away, then 60 feet, then 120 feet, and so on, depending on what the illusion is. So 3D films require us to focus at one distance and converge at another. And 600 million years of evolution has never presented this problem before. All living things with eyes have always focussed and converged at the same point.

If we look at the salt shaker on the table, close to us, we focus at six feet and our eyeballs converge (tilt in) at six feet. Imagine the base of a triangle between your eyes and the apex of the triangle resting on the thing you are looking at. But then look out the window and you focus at sixty feet and converge also at sixty feet. That imaginary triangle has now “opened up” so that your lines of sight are almost — almost — parallel to each other.

“We can do this. 3D films would not work if we couldn’t. But it is like tapping your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time, difficult. So the “CPU” of our perceptual brain has to work extra hard, which is why after 20 minutes or so many people get headaches. They are doing something that 600 million years of evolution never prepared them for. This is a deep problem, which no amount of technical tweaking can fix. Nothing will fix it short of producing true “holographic” images.

Consequently, the editing of 3D films cannot be as rapid as for 2D films, because of this shifting of convergence: it takes a number of milliseconds for the brain/eye to “get” what the space of each shot is and adjust.”

You can see the full article, written by Roger Ebert, here.

The views and opinions in this article are that of my own and not my employer.

Canon 5D Filming

Weekend #1
The first weekend I used a Zoom H4 box to record the sound.

It was alright although no chance I would have been able to film on my own. Luckily I had the help of Emma. The Zoom H4 box records the sound separately onto an SD card as either a WAVE or mp3 file.

The sound had to sync up as video and audio were recorded onto separate devices…like in the ye olde days of film!


Weekend #2
The second weekend I used a customized Glensound Box that recorded sound straight onto the Canon 5D

The files imported into FCP fine, although I had to obviously change the settings of the project so that I didn’t have to render the timeline every time I put a clip down.

If you have the same problem, don’t forget to create a new sequence once you have changed the FCP project settings otherwise the new settings won’t be applied to the new sequence.

If you haven’t guessed already, that was something I found myself literally tearing my hair out at! Luckily I’m a lady and I have long hair so I can fashion a nice comb over for the time being.

I’m totally hooked on the new Canon 5D MK2! This is the first sequence that I produced having used it:

(Please note, the lovely BBC YouTube peeps seemed to have uploaded a wrong aspect version and it’s been compressed, obviously)

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Next Week: Short Film research… I want to make a short film at the start of this year so I’m starting the pre production for it soon

Twitter for Strictly

If you are wondering where the article about my premiere performance is, basically the shoot has been cancelled until November when we head to Blackpool.

Instead, here is a still of me! At least I have given you something even if it is just a still 😉

Gemma taking a picture of Goldie

This is taken from the first week when Goldie was still in Strictly Come Dancing.

Basically this is what I do on Saturday night while the main show is on.

I take pictures of the acts as they come off stage and publish it straight to Twitter.

I also add in a quote so that the reactio is more instant and exclusive.

The pictures are then used on the strictly blog and the backstage gallery.

I finish the night by recording some reactions to the results with the judges.

Fun-packed and never boring!
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Next Week: Filming with the Canon 5D camera

Strictly Come Dancing….is back! Not sure you knew ;-)

glitter ball

Well firstly apologies for the lack of blogging over the past few weeks. Not sure whether you have heard but Strictly Come Dancing is on and it feels like if I’m not working or travelling, I’m sleeping!

I’ve therefore decided to write weekly blogs….genius! That way you still have something fascinating and intriguing to read at dinnertime 😉

Anyway it’s been a massive learning curve since early September.

DV deck

At first, I edited together the Strictly promotional trails that aired on BBC 1 just before EastEnders.

It was crazy having to have my edited stuff tech reviewed and as for ‘edit suite’ or should I really say, a laptop with headphones and a borrowed digi deck for playout. Nothing like Multiplatform.

playout stack

Laptop

The best bit was passing the tech review everyday. As the trails were being broadcast on television, they had to be checked before going out; making sure the sound wasn’t too high or low,and that the brightness didn’t peak.

Considering I didn’t have speakers or a surround sound to work with, it meant being even more careful. But a bit of colour correction here and there and making sure the sound touched yellow seemed to work.

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Next Week:
Read about the camera crew that are following me around this Friday…that’s right, I shall be in front of the camera for a change…eek!

Top Gear editing

Monday’s are generally a nice day regarding editing.

Transcoding Top Gear ready for editing

I simply have pull out show footage up from Top Gear; put an endboard and BBC DOG (digital on-screen graphic) on the clip. Then, having exported the clip to the correct specifications I publish it with iBroadcast; the way in which the BBC now uploads clips.

Editing with Final Cut ProMost of the time I have to play the waiting game as every clip has to be signed off, or complied…like in Flight of the Navigator…. “compliance”.

There’s no rest for the wicked though…

While working on the Top Gear website, I was also working on Eastenders, editing together some montages which are always great; especially when you put some upbeat music on them!

Click here to see one of the Peggy montages.

It seems that my new gel keyboard cover is getting quite the workout at the moment. Come September though, it’ll be getting even more action…ohhhhhhhhhh

Stay tuned!

The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of my own and not my employer.