With the increasing rate of technology changes and the plethora of options when it comes to camera choice, we’ve broken down some of the most frequently asked questions our Production Managers receive about cameras – and organized it into this handy infographic to help figure out what kind of camera to book for your shoot. This infographic doesn’t include every possible camera out there, but just some of the most common options to choose from.
Archives for February 2016
Nashville has become the new “it” city in most recent years, bringing together tradition and cutting-edge entertainment. The town is robust with exceptional backdrops, unique eateries, and historic monuments for a variety of video shoot genres. Before you head out to Music City, USA, check out our top ten tips for shooting on location in Nashville:
10 – Access to state-owned buildings, parks, and roads is plentiful. Most state-owned property is available free of charge. Just know that if you want access to a state-owned location, you’ll need to send an email to the film commission, and they will help coordinate the shoot. So whether you are an up and coming mom and pop shop or F500 company, there will be plenty of opportunities to get a diverse range of shots you are looking for. Regarding permits,“there are no state permitting fees in Tennessee” according to the Tennessee film Commission, however, if you have a crew more than 3-4 people, you will likely need a permit to be safe.
9 – Even though Nashville was once known as the 10 minutes city due to the close proximity everything, this is no longer the case. In thanks to the recent climb in population, allow 20-30 minutes of travel time during the day and 30+ minutes if you’re going anywhere from 4:00-6:00 pm. Taxis, Uber, Lyft will be your reliable best friend if you are looking to travel from point A to point B in a hurry.
8 – As cool as it is to get aerial footage of all the note-worthy areas, both urban and rural, the state still requires drones to have FAA approval before beginning to shoot. Make sure to utilize the quality surroundings and get some aerial shots of the Great Smoky Mountains and the Mississippi River after you get those permits though!
7 – Nashville’s rich history offers a plethora of b-roll locations. Some of the great iconic shots that showcase Nashville’s music hub is Music Row, which is comprised of recording studios and record labels, Honky Tonks, and Ryman, the original home of the Grand Ole’ Opry. Another great location unique to Nashville is the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum. Other great b-roll locations include: Centennial Park and the full-size replica of the Greek Parthenon; and locations like Meade Plantation, The Hermitage Home, and Franklin’s Carnton Plantation contribute to Nashville’s diverse, traditional, and distinctive location and create unique scenes for shooting footage.
6 – Though the city is filled with traditions of all sorts, the memories of entertainment’s greats have also left their mark. Elvis Presley created his legacy of Rock n Roll, Dolly Parton the Queen of country, Bill Monroe as the Father of Bluegrass, and so many more who left their individual marks in Nashville history which can be captured in the legendary Country Music Hall of Fame Music Museum.
5 – To get those classic Nashville skyline shots, we asked some of our DPs how to get the best vantage points possible. Their advice: to shoot from the top levels of local parking garages in the West End area near all the hospitals. Another key piece of advice they offered is to shoot from the Shelby Street Walking Bridge which is across the river from downtown, looking back at the city. It really creates a beautiful and exceptional shot.
4 – Even though the beautiful and historic city has much to offer, be wary of those impending Tornados. According to About Nashville.com the Middle Tennessee area, including Nashville, “has around a dozen or so tornado watches issued annually, and at least one tornado is either spotted and/or touches down in Middle Tennessee every year.” Also be sure to check the weather report if you’re shooting in the spring months. “The highest monthly rainfall occurs normally in the month of May producing the most rain, normally around 5 inches.”
3 – The Tennessee State Prison is actually one of the most popular and free spots to shoot in believe it or not! The unique 19th century architecture has been used as the backdrop for many music videos and films and is the perfect fit for a creepy yet eerie shot on any day of the year. The location is also an easy ten-minute trip from Downtown Nashville making it accessible for your crew large or small.
2 – Once you put some distance in from the bustling downtown life, you can find some stunning waterfalls just a short distance from the city. Only about an hour or two drive, depending on which location you chose, there are many different falls to venture out to shoot. One of these falls includes that located in the Burgess State Park. The park is filled with rolling hills and fields of flowers if you are looking for a truly serene scenic shot. Just be sure to prepare your crew; they could be in for an unexpected hike!
1 – A favorite tip we like to ask our DPs is where to grab a good bite. Nashville is the new “it” food city! With a wide range of cuisines and eateries, you can get a taste of anything in the musical city for just about any price. Check out The Southern, Farm House, Husk, Pinewood Social and of course Hatti B’s or Prince’s Hot Chicken, which are great options according to Crews Control represented DP Chris Codner.
From Barbeque to Speakeasies and skylines to a historic State Prison, Nashville really does have anything and everything your video shoot needs. Your shots will be anything but boring in the iconic Music City, U.S.A. and will be sure to captivate audiences of all ages. Make sure to check out the rules and regulations regarding permits before shooting but once that is all in check, join the legends that have already created a legacy in Nashville, Tennessee. If you’re need of a video crew in Nashville, click here for a free quote! Also find us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn!
The motion picture camera manufacturing business moves at a frenetic pace. It’s extremely hard to keep up with the “latest and greatest cameras.” 2016 is destined to be the year of 8K. That’s right, read it again, 8k. I know what many are thinking: “What do you mean 8K? We’re still at 1080, and we’re just now thinking about moving to 4K?”
Other phrases I hear often are: “The human eye can’t see beyond 4K, so this is a waste! When will it stop?” or “This race for resolution is ridiculous!”
The truth of the matter is, this is not a new concept. Some of the greatest photographers have used this “over-sampling” concept for over 100 years! In fact Ansel Adams primarily used large-format cameras because their high resolution helped ensure sharpness to his images. No one has ever said “Ansel Adams’ images look too sharp!” In fact, it’s quite the contrary! His images look smooth, clean and have a spacial depth to them because they were shot in an ‘over sampled’ fashion.
Nearly all “magazine” cover shots, advertising and “feature pieces” are shot today with “medium-format” cameras; first with 120/220 film, and now digitally. The arguments for medium-format over DSLR are: image quality, color depth and image feel. Many believe that comparing an image taken by each format, side by side, the images just don’t look the same. (Does this argument sound familiar?)
The question is “why do photographers over sample their images?” Quite simply, it’s control of the final image! When you over-sample an image, by shooting a larger format, you gain resolution. That gain is extremely apparent when the final image is down-scaled and the grain becomes “tighter” in the final presentation. It short, it will look sharper, cleaner and more pleasing to the eye.
Another reason to over-sample is the ability to edit the image in post. The image can be ‘re-framed’ when conforming to a smaller resolution. Of course the photography purists would hate hearing this concept, but it does happen and more often than many realize.
We are now in the dawn of a new age of motion imaging. Like it or not the ‘new standard’ for content delivery and home entertainment will be “UHD-TV.” (3840×2160). In a similar fashion to HDTV, the transition will more than likely take a decade to fully embrace; we’re already a few years into the transition! As this adaptation comes into mainstream, so will the delivery methods in which we receive content.
I’ve said for quite a few years that ‘broadcasters’ will yield to “OTT” content providers. (Over the Top refers to the delivery of audio and video signals over the internet without the involvement of a multiple-system operator in the control or distribution of content.) Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube Red have ventured into this arena, bravely before anyone else, and their successes are paving the way for future content providers. To future proof their content, Netflix and Amazon are mandating that the minimum standard for their original content be acquired in 4K. These standards are likely to continue to change as technology advances. Unlike their broadcasting counterparts, OTT content providers are able to upgrade their distribution and exhibition systems with relatively inexpensive software upgrades. These upgrades can be performed quickly and easily. Some broadcasters are stuck in a 720p infrastructure with the upgrades being so vast and so expensive, they’d rather be complacent than move forward with technology; this will be their downfall.
New televisions for home use have new features. Not only are televisions “smart” these days, their information path is ‘bi-directional’. If you’ve shopped for a TV recently, you’ll notice that many use new terms that include UHD, HDR and WCG. Ultra-High Definition is the consumer standard for 4K delivery and is slightly smaller than ‘true 4K.’ (It’s also a fixed aspect ratio of 16:9). High Dynamic Range images will provide more detail from the darkest points to the brightest points in the image. The goal is to replicate what the human eye can discern visually. A Wide Color Gamut (known as “Rec2020”) will increase the possible colors that can be represented on television. Colors in the new standard will also appear ‘richer’ as well. The current standard is “Rec 709” for HDTV. The human eye can see colors far beyond what is possible on today’s HDTV televisions. WCG narrows that gap. None of these ‘new features’ are available on HDTV’s or in the current broadcasting standards. Many network broadcasters feel that the ability to implement these aspects as standards will be impossible; this paves the way for new content delivery services and cements OTT.
Unlike the transition from SD to HD, the transition from HD to UHD/4K will not allow for the up scaling of images; the image is 4x larger and up scaling would degrade the HDTV signal beyond a usable state. Therefore to preserve the economic feasibility of content, providers are already acquiring media at a minimum of 4K.
Many still shoot in HD and claim that the image is beautiful. This is true when you’re looking at a monitor on set. This is even more apparent when that image is acquired from a large sensor camera and then down-sampled. Many forget that along the way the signal is degraded so much that it doesn’t resemble that beautiful image at the time of creation. Often images are conformed to standards, compressed, transmitted/delivered, decompressed and then consumed (sometimes after being compressed again!) and this can take an awful toll not only on the appearance of the image but quality of the image. By moving into a “UHD” world, we embrace the UHD, HDR and WCG standards which ensure the quality of your original content stays the same throughout the process.
Like our still photographer counterparts, motion imaging professionals need to learn how to accept and approve the over-sample! When 4K acquisition started becoming popular in 2008, many fell in love with the image, even though the majority of the presentations were shown in 2K. It was the down-sampling of content that showcased the 4K sensor. As OTT standards become the “mainstream/normal,” we should once again embrace the tools afforded to us with 8K image capture (including down-sampling, and reframing specifically). Too often the 8K image capture term is being mistakenly thought of as a bragging right instead of an effective tool that ensures longevity and return of investment.
I know that many folks think that resolution is sharpness. They don’t want to move from 1080 to 4K because they feel that the image will be ‘over-sharp.’ Certainly they don’t want to make the leap to 8K, because they feel that it would be unbearable to watch, especially when watching people. However, there are a few things that need to be clarified so that one can understand what is happening on a digital image. For starters, every object displayed is created with a series of polygons. It’s very difficult to make rounded objects when you’re using polygons, therefore making a perfect circle on a digital imaging sensor is nearly impossible. When we used film and videotape, we could make perfect circles because those mediums were not limited to polygon arrangements. What the increase of resolution affords us is the increase in pixels and polygons. The more pixels you can apply to images, especially those with “rounded edges,” the more perfect they appear. The result equates to smoothness, not sharpness. The same holds true with 8K acquisition.
Since the 1970s, when video tape was introduced, content creators have wanted a viable and affordable alternative to film. They love the look and feel of film, just not the price. Part of the look and feel they are so attracted to is that ‘smoothness.’ For years manufacturers strove to recreate that smoothness of film cameras. In the past several years many believe film has been matched by the high level 4K cameras on the market. With 8K film will be surpassed.
There are a few flavors of 8K hitting the market. The first camera to employ an 8K sensor was Sony’s F65 camera, although it recorded a 4K image. This has been their flagship camera since 2012. It is rumored that Sony will present a new flagship in 2016 that captures in 8K as well. Sony has long been a firm believer in over-sampling, so it’s anyone’s guess if they’ll surpass 8K for image sensor size.
The first camera to be released that actually shoots 8K is the Red Digital Cinema Weapon. The camera is currently shipping in limited quantities. (It will start shipping on a larger scale in the beginning of Q2, 2016). The first large scale project to be completely captured in 8K is Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy II.”
Canon have also displayed an 8K version of their Cine EOS line, as a prototype, that looks promising. The only issue with this prototype is that it must use four Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q’s to be able to actually record in 8K. This makes the camera almost unwieldy on set. Perhaps Canon will find a better method of recording before release.
A slightly smaller “large sensor” camera is Arri’s Alexa 65. (This camera isn’t for sale, it’s a rental item only.) The Alexa 65 has already been used on a few films, such as The Revenant.
The biggest challenge with any of these extremely large sensor cameras is glass. What lenses actually work with the camera systems? Arri has rehoused some Medium Format lenses. Canon is making entirely new lenses to cover the enormous 8K sensors. For those shooting with Red cameras, any lens that covers ‘full frame’ 35mm will work, which generally means FF35mm and Medium Format lenses. The Zeiss Otus and Milvus line cover 8K. Nearly all of the Medium Format lenses by Hasselblad, Mamiya, Pentax, etc. are finding new life in the large sensor motion picture arena. It takes a few moments to get a ‘feel’ for the depth of field when shooting with these still lenses in the 8K world. It’s not impossible to master; one just has to be mindful.
I am one of the folks that believe over-sampling my image capture truly sets my work apart from the competition. My company, azPTP has already purchased a Red Weapon. We are “in line” to get the 8K Weapon upgrade as soon as it’s available. I believe that UHD/4K will be the mezzanine standard for quite some time, and I want to afford my clients the best possible image with the longest return on their investment.
The only way to truly evaluate something new is to see it in action. If you aren’t afforded the opportunity to actually see an 8K camera in use, check out one of the first videos posted on the internet that was acquired in 8K with the Red Weapon. It’s truly spectacular! Bear in mind that the compression of this presentation on YouTube doesn’t even do the project justice, but it still looks stunning!
If you’d like to bring this type of quality to your imaging, consider making the move into 8K image capture. In the words of Ansel Adams: “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
Today’s digital media technology is innovative, feature rich, and functionally robust. With it, we can view content, create it, manage it, share it, and communicate with others via many methods and media channels.
These tools and capabilities are empowering individuals, as consumers and as employees; with the ability to determine what information they consume and share with their friends and associates throughout the workplace. However, digital media is only as good as the content that it delivers.
Why is this critical to the enterprise?
Because if the video content is not compelling and relevant to the targeted viewers, they’ll tune it out, which may result in lost sales and unhappy customers.
This is nothing new!
Over the years, as technology has improved and form factors have changed, the core messages, information and story telling have remained relatively constant. Certain content will be time sensitive and/or require audience participation and interaction. Other content may have and extended shelf-life and be conducive for consumption at the convenience of the viewer. These criteria, along with the make-up of the targeted audience, will determine whether the content needs to be delivered live or should be produced for on-demand viewing.
What’s the formula for successful enterprise video communications and workplace learning?
Today, most organizations have video equipment and capabilities throughout the enterprise…
Where virtually everyone is a potential contributor, shooting, editing and distributing company related user-generated content using various consumer, pro-sumer and commercial equipment. As a result, the video and audio quality can range significantly. Viewers have shown that they have expectations for content production values to meet the high quality screen and sound capabilities of viewing devices. However, they also have shown a tolerance for poor video and sound, when the content is compelling.
First, and foremost, know your target audience, so that the content is compelling and relevant to them!
Although the message may be similar for both internal and external audiences, the timing, viewing locations and devices, and the desired actions and outcomes, may be drastically different!
Be sensitive to work schedules for associates and managers! Which means don’t overwhelm employees with too much content… too often. This can have a negative impact on their job performance. Program length should be determined by the subject matter and targeted audience. Clearly, town-hall meetings and certain training classes may be lengthy.
However, highlights of these and other content may be conducive for editing down to multiple, short modules for distribution to extended audiences and on-demand viewing. In fact, it’s not uncommon for content featuring a single item or topic to be brief: 30 to 90 seconds.
In summary, it’s important to remember that:
Content is King…
It needs to be relevant, fresh, timely, easily accessible and readily available for the target audience.
You should incorporate interactivity into programs and learning sessions to encourage participation and drive engagement.
Don’t overwhelm employees with too much content….
And design the length of video programs according to the subject matter and targeted audience.
Use, re-purpose, and re-use relevant content…
This can be very cost effective.
Leverage all available media delivery channels for the right blend of live and on-demand content.
Establish video production guidelines and policies to protect the organization’s brand…
As well as manage the workflow.
And finally, VIDEO CONTENT should drive the selection of media and technology solutions for the enterprise video communications and learning ecosystem.