Oct 19, 2014

My thoughts on the BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera - From a videographers perspective

For a few weeks now I have owned and used the BMPCC/Pocket Cinema Camera for a variety of different types of videos including but not limited to: Music Video, 2 wedding videos, a Promo video, Yoga Class videos and a TV Commercial.

An example of how to make the tiny BMPCC a slightly less tiny BMPCC.

While I was initially overwhelmed by the cameras size, image quality, video file size and flat image (more on this in a sec) I am happy to say that my investment is one I consider the best I've made in a while.

This camera is a workhorse, warts and all. The image quality is amazing and holds up well... even in the current days of 4K. My choice to buy a Full HD Cinema camera instead of investing in a 4K camera like the GH4 came down to my views on 4K still in its infancy (the quality is great though!) and very little in the way of showing that 4K quality outside of a cinema. I don't shoot for the cinema screen, I shoot for the web.

Behind The Scenes - "A Couple More Miles" Music Video shoot.

When I first started using the camera I was shooting in the "Video" colour profile... basically giving me a pre-colour corrected image straight out of the camera (similar to what I'd usually get from my Panasonic GH2 and G6) that looked great. I could then tweak contrast and colour more as I pleased. But after a while I began experimenting with the "Film" profile... which gives me a very desaturated and "Flat" image straight out of the camera. Those well versed in the video world will know what this means, so I won't go into detail describing it. You can look at the images below:


Flat image - Straight out of the camera
Final grade - Utilizing a mix of "Film Convert" and "Magic Bullet Looks". View final video here.

All of a sudden my images were opened up to some serious manipulation. I've dabbled with grading quite a bit in the past, but never got anything close to the images I get now. I still have a LOT to learn about grading an image though.

The BMPCC is an odd choice of camera for a wedding videographer. Many prefer the offerings from Canon (5D Mk2-Mk3) for ease of use. I've been using my Panasonic mirrorless cameras now for two years in wedding environments and they have served me well. Now the BMPCC has thrown a spanner in the works, giving me even better video quality than I could reach previously... but complicating my workflow by adding the extra need to colour grade my image (and match that to those I get from my Panasonic cameras). As a videographers tool, I have to say the BMPCC isn't truly designed for the task (the hint is in the name, particularly the "Cinema" part) but the trick is preparing yourself with research and a little common knowledge in order to "Whip" the camera into the tool you need it to be.

Tony & Della - Ungraded Still

Tony & Della - Graded Still. Final video here.

For promotional video purposes this camera is hands-down the best camera you can get for the money. You will be able to shoot images perfectly capable of web distribution as well as community TV/broadcast. Maybe not at BBC level, but definitely smaller local TV stations.

Reviewing a take - 'Couple More Miles' Video Shoot
I recently used the camera to begin shooting a music video that a local musician wishes to air on a national cable music video channel. This is where the camera proves it is able to produce what it says it's capable of: Cinematic images. Of course, this doesn't just come down to the camera... it comes down to the operator. I'm not a cinematographer by any stretch, but in my opinion this tool has become an extension of myself and my skills.

A Couple More Miles - Ungraded Still
A Couple More Miles - Graded Still
A Couple More Miles - Ungraded Still
A Couple More Miles - Graded Still

To sum it up... this is probably the best camera I've owned... yet. Despite its shortcomings, such as crop factor (which do bother me, but I work around it) and form factor (it's so tiny!)... it packs some serious punch. My only real gripe comes down to how power hungry it can be... but the battery life is a well documented flaw that other reviewers have harped on. There are workarounds, such as my Sony Battery work around... that combat this issue.

I'm looking forward to using this camera for many productions in the future. I would love to see how well it works in a feature film environment!

 Till next time folks!

Jul 26, 2014

July/August 2014 - What's up with DRF?

Hey guys!
  
First things first... here is possibly the most exciting thing I have to say in this entire blog entry:



I bought a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera!
I've been watching this camera very closely for the last few months as I've been looking for a new camera to add to my kit. Recently, BMD (the company who make the Pocket Camera) annouced a month long half price sale on the camera... which pretty much sealed the deal for me and I absolutely-had-to-own-one. For a nice tidy $600, I picked one up. I literally hit the "Buy Now" button about 2 hours ago. Hopefully it'll be here next week for me to play with, but I know a lot of places have sold out and are waiting for new stock... so I might be waiting 2-3 weeks or more for it to arrive.

There are a few reasons why I bought the Pocket Cinema Camera... but my main reasoning is that for $600, I have a camera that can shoot extremely high quality 1920x1080 footage in ProRes or RAW (if you're a photographer, you know what that means) and manipulate the image colour (aka "Grade") to something a lot more cinematic. Also, my understanding is that this camera shoots broadcast quality/legal files that can be sent and aired on local TV if I should be so lucky as to shoot for TV again in the future. As well as commercials and such.
Needless to say, I am VERY excited to be getting this camera. :)

What Else Is News?

I've been going hell-for-leather on some wedding videos that have been in the editing stage for far longer than I am comfortable with... and managed to finish two of the three weddings I had pending.



I'm glad to have these done and out of the road, as I can now focus on finishing my second "Our Story" wedding video... the story and wedding of Miranda & Nick. The wedding itself was a very different experience for me, this wasn't a typical wedding at all. Although the ceremony was a pretty standard fare, the reception and everything leading up to the ceremony was very traditional. A whole new experience and exposure to culture that I'm very glad I got to be a part of. It was also the first wedding I got to test out my new GoPro Hero 3 on.




A very fun wedding, and a great bunch of interviews I did with the couple as well. I'll have something out for that in the next few weeks :)


New Logo + New Projects!

I have long talked about updating my logo to something a bit more fitting, and finally got around to hiring somebody to design one for me. Well it's taken me six months to get something I'm happy with, but I got there in the end. I'm waiting to receive the final files, but I will be updating the Facebook page and Website in the coming weeks with that.

I'm also taking on a new personal project, A mini documentary which I will keep the details of to myself for now. But I have long admired a local event here in Dubbo and wanted to tell their story. All will be revealed with that in the future.

Also of note, is the documentary I've been working on with Wellington Business Services about one of our local War veterans has been chugging away in editing for a few months now and should be set and ready to be launched sometime in the next month or so. We're in the process of finalising the edit.

And lastly... I have started rewrites on "The Riley Project"... a web series I was developing and filming a few years ago but never finished. I'm rewriting the script, will most likely develop it as a series of short films.. but that I haven't completely decided on yet. I won't have anything ready to shoot for at least 12 months or so, due to other project commitments and very little personal time.

Also, before I forget... My brothers and I decided to have a spontaneous shooting session a few weeks ago, and I lugged my gear along with them to film a "skate video". Well, it's not a skate video.. but it's something. Check it out:


And that's pretty much everything for July and August. Appreciate anyone taking the time to read my posts! Keep checking back often, I am hoping to write these blog posts every few weeks (trying to aim for once a month!).

~ Dan

Apr 15, 2014

My Song 2014 - Behind The Scenes!

Hey guys!

I haven't made many posts since November last year, but I'm back now. I generally try not to post unless I have interesting things to post about.

Today I have a bit of a post about a recent shoot I did, the My Song Award 2014.

I generally try not to do live performance shoots nowadays, as last year I came to the realisation that a lot of my audio problems come down to 1) my gear, and 2) the sound engineer at the mixing desk. So I've decided to limit the types of live performances I film.

When Mike from My Song Award/Australian Art Sales asked me to come back again this year to film My Song, I was stoked. Last year was great, and I wanted to come back and see what was improved. It was a great experience, but it's such a shame only a small portion of Dubbo turned out to see it. Dubbo missed out on a great showcase of talent from across Australia!

I'll detail how I filmed the performance, how I edited, and my personal thoughts of the experience.

The Gear I Used:


String Theories - the view from my little perch!

Panasonic GH2

My ever-trustworthy and loveable Panasonic GH2 was my A camera, which I had on my Weifeng 717 tripod. I used a Sigma 35-105mm MD lens that I purchased recently on Fleabay, which I found to be a little cumbersome and heavy... but was a nice sharp lens. I may do away with this lens next year and replace it with the 45-150 from Panasonic. I found that even the slightest touch of the tripod would make the camera wobble, and it really showed in the footage. I need image stabilization and a telephoto reach, so I think the native Panasonic lens will benefit me next time.
Still, I was happy with my GH2 footage (I am rarely disappointed with my GH2).


Dayna James-Gazi - Still frame from GH2

One thing to note is that on last years My Song shoot, I used a slider with my GH2 to add some movement to my shots. I didn't do that this year for two reasons.. one being that my slider is currently broken/not working properly, and two: It's cumbersome and annoying to use with telephoto lenses.

Panasonic G6

I recently purchased a Panasonic G6 to replace my aging GH1, as I wanted to have a bit more of a uniform image quality across multicam shoots. My G6 was on a SLIK Photo tripod, which was a cheapo I picked up before the shoot. I used the kit 14-42mm lens on this camera, and did my best to change the camera around a bit for some more interesting angles across the different performers. For instance, about half way into the String Theories performance I realized that the camera, which was positioned in front of the stage to focus on the Dobro player (guy in the middle) and the Violinist while my GH2 focused on the guitarist and lead vocalist, wasn't really getting just the back of the violinist without capturing much else. So I put it behind the stage to get a nice shot of the violinist with the lights above him. I felt it made for a more interesting shot.

 
 
Jade Lee Wright - G6 angle
Jade Lee Wright - G6 Still frame
Panasonic GH1

I had to borrow some extra cameras from my friend and frequent collaborator Bart Riley from Forgotten Walrus Entertainment as I didn't have the time or funds to purchase the cameras myself. I had sold my GH1 and my frequently blogged about LX7 (I used it on last years My Song shoot as well!) to Bart last year to help fund the purchase of my G6, as well as hoping to purchase a second GH2 body. Well, that never happened, so I had to hire my old gear back from Bart anyway!


The GH2 had the kit 14-42mm lens on it, and I had it also mounted on a SLIK tripod that I own. Of all the gear I used on this shoot, the GH1 surprised me most. I had sold the GH1 on the grounds that I felt it couldn't match my GH2 in quality, which was hindering the uniform quality of my wedding videos... and the My Song shoot made me instantly regret selling it. It was the angle that I ended up relying on most for the editing.





Canon HFR20


This was a camera I borrowed from Bart also, which I had mounted on a Magic Arm towards the back of the venue so I had a wide shot with the audience in it (something missing from My Song 2013's videos) to cut to in editing. Sadly though, this was the camera and angle that disappointed me most, so I didn't use it all that often. I think next time I will use my G6, or another camera that is better suited to the task.




Audio Recording


I had previously discussed with the client that I wanted nothing to do with the audio side of things due to my previous disasters with live performance audio, but I had decided recently after purchasing a 5 channel Behringer mixing desk, that I would give it another go. I ended up borrowing a Windows 8 tablet PC from a family member, took the mixing desk along (it outputs to USB) and recorded the audio feed from the house mixing desk, into mine. I recorded directly into an Adobe Audition project so I could edit it all later. This is one of those times where I was so grateful to be working alongside an audio guy who isn't completely ignorant of any other professional in the room. Alan was more than helpful, even agreeing to keep a watchful eye on my recording to make sure I wasn't peaking or anything similar while I focused on filming. The resulting audio is utterly eargasmic... and my only real gripe was some guitars were a bit quiet on one particular set, but that was all.

Editing



Dayna James-Gazi's set - In editing

I generally do my editing nowadays in Adobe Premiere Pro CS6, as I find the multicam editing feature to be utterly amazing. I did most of my audio tweaking in Adobe Audition. I haven't finished editing the entire collection of footage yet, I have cut most of it and finished up all editing of the "nominated songs". These are 6 videos of the songs that the artists wrote specifically to enter into the competition with and had to perform for the judges on the night. For these clips, I focused on making the edit flow nicely, including transitions (which I didn't do last year). For some clips, I even added some faux movement in the shots just for a bit of interest.

One thing that I decided to do, which I hadn't really thought about doing last year (not completely understanding the job I was given), was record informal interviews with most of the artists so we could get a bit of an understanding on what drives them as musicians. I neglected to take audio gear with me on the shoot (besides my mixer and Tascam DR40 for backup) so I borrowed a microphone from the sound/audio guy and used it for the interviews. I was so impressed with the mic that I decided to buy one of my own (A Shure PG58). You can see some of these interviews in the nominated songs clips. 

Conclusion

 All in all, it was a great shoot with a few small challenges but nothing that completely sucked the fun out of the experience. All in all I felt that my filming efforts this year were a miles-long improvement over last year. The final product speaks for itself, and although it has it's flaws... I'm again proud of my work. My understanding is that the client is happy, which in turn makes me happy.

Here's hoping there is a My Song 2015, and if there is I hope to be in attendance (either as a patron/audience member or working). 

 Thanks for sticking through another one of my novel blog posts. :) Check out the videos, which are below (Be sure to watch in HD for best quality):

 



 

Nov 27, 2013

New Wedding Package, Upgrading gear, 2014 Plans

As some of you may already know, I'm changing a few things about Daniel Rutter Films next year... including the name. I've been warned that this could potentially end up doing me more harm than good... I want to put a fresh name to the company.

Daniel Rutter Films over the last 3 years of my life has been growing into a very extensive body of work that I'm really proud of. The work I've done with weddings alone (7 by my count, with an 8th coming this weekend!) is work I'm forever proud to have done... and the music videos I wrapped about a month ago are some of my favorite parts of 2013's work alone.

Daniel Rutter Films will most likely relaunch next year under the name "The Faded Fedora". I am naming it after my signature piece of clothing that I pretty much live in. It will launch with a new take on wedding films, music videos... and make a move into quality promotional material for businesses in the region. There are a few films I am working on putting together next year as well (more on that later).

New Wedding package

A few days ago I wrapped editing on a highlights reel for a project I've been working on with Nathan Walsh and Allira Bourke which was my first foray into a new wedding package I'm offering. The idea is to add a whole new level to the humble wedding film by making it a lot more personal and have more emotional impact. Click the image above to check out the video, and you'll see what I mean.

Nathan & Allira were an amazing couple to work with... and I thank them for allowing me to test this new product with them. I'm really happy with how it came out, and I hope they are too.

More info on the wedding package can be obtained by making an enquiry via Facebook or Email.

New equipment/Upgrading Gear

A few months back I had made mention of purchasing the Black Magic Pocket Cinema camera... but upon further review, I have decided that this camera isn't really in my price range (with all extras needed) and doesn't suit me as a videographer. I will not dispute it's quality, but I don't find it appealing for my work style.

I have instead been looking to retire two cameras that have been a mainstay in my kit bag for a while now... including my fairly recent purchase the LX7. I'm also retiring my GH1. I will be replacing both of these with either a second GH2 body, or the new and improved Panasonic G6. I'm also adding a GoPro Hero Black Edition+ to my gear bag as well. These will be a part of my wedding shooter kit next year. Also on the cards are some new lighting equipment, a green/blue/black/white screen and stand kit and possibly a few lens upgrades depending on workload.


 




With this new equipment, it is my hope that I will be improving the overall image quality of my work... and it will allow me as a videographer to shoot a uniform video quality.

2014 Plans

2014 is already shaping up to be a pretty kickin' year for me. I am in the process of writing a new script for a thriller short film that I will be working alongside my long time collaborator Bart Riley. My hope is to take this film, and (excuse the profanity) 'shit' all over my previous short film work.
I'm also in negotiations with a Dubbo based script writer about collaborating on his short film script. There will be more info on that sometime in the future once things are locked down. This will mark my second time ever working on someone elses script instead of writing and shooting my own.

I've already mentioned the company name change, the new promotional video offerings and the new equipment. This is just the stuff I have planned ahead with. You just never know what will come along though!

And that's all folks. If you read this far along, cheers! Stick around... new info comes out every so often :)

- Dan

Sep 17, 2013

New projects, busy end of year, confidence boost!

Hey guys!

So much news to tell you today, that I don't even know where to start.

First up, I have a documentary shoot that I am currently working on. I can't tell you much more than that, but it's going to be great... and I'm working with a brilliant team who seem to be doing all the leg work while I focus on filming and editing. The documentary wasn't my idea... I was brought on to help "make it a reality". We should see a finished product by March 2014, but I'll keep you posted as things happen.

Secondly, today I just confirmed booking for yet another wedding. That's 5 weddings before years end... 5! Ok, not that many in the grand scheme of things... but that's 5 weddings with less than 3 months left in the year. On top of that, I have 3 possible music videos (one confirmed, with Dubbo local band "Trollgasm"). So, it's safe to say I'm run off my feet. To be honest, it's nerve racking to have so much going on at once... but I like the idea of being busy. After spending a few months doing nothing really at all, it's a great change of pace.

Third... I can't give too many details out about this, but I will say... Daniel Rutter Films will be changing it's face and name come 2014. Along with the new face, will be a new logo, new website, and some new products and projects. One of our projects will involve a complete overhaul to how we do wedding videos. I'm working closely with a couple who are my "test subjects" for this project to see if it's viable... and so far, I think we're going to make something very unique that isn't done around here. Gotta have an edge on the competition eh? :)

Lastly... and this I believe is tied in with the notion of being busy: I have found a new take on life. For the last two weeks I've been working on making a better "me". A happier, more motivated person. I have a lot of people to thank, but I'd like to thank those who are bringing me all this work... my family, who don't even realise how much they inspire me... and of course, my lovely girlfriend Mel. Without her, I'd not have survived the last 10 months of my life quite as well as I did. Thanks to all our clients over the last 10 months for their patience as well.

Lets make the last 3 months of 2013 rock!

Dan, out!


EDIT:

I can't believe I forgot this. It seem it's flown under the radar of most, but I recently did a short skit with my best mate Bart from Forgotten Walrus Entertainment. It's got a few little production issues... but it was still a fun shoot, once again proving why I'm better as a videographer and camera operator... and not an actor :)

Check out Forgotton Walrus Entertainment on Facebook, and click play on the video below to see the film.



Aug 23, 2013

The future of "Daniel Rutter Films"

The question pops into my head far too often. In my heart, I have always wanted to make films... short films, feature films... anything with characters, story, and all the elements of a film that I love. but lately, my short film/feature film goals have been put on the back burner to leave room for my new loves: Wedding films, and Music Videos.

I'm still working out the kinks when it comes to weddings, but I think I have a new formula that will work. More on that in the future though.

Tonight, on this rather interesting Friday night, I want to tell you about the future of my company. As we currently stand, we're just a small not-very-well-known production company based in Wellington NSW... and a customer base in Dubbo NSW. What I'm hoping to do, is expand on this with a brand new name, slogan... and a new set of goals. Well, the goals will always be the same: Create a production company that caters to everything I love about story-telling with a camera, but again... with the new goals: Just create better content. We're launching a new side to our company which will cater to prospective businesses in the Wellington and Dubbo area. Of course, more of this in the coming months.

The time for "Daniel Rutter Films" as a company to close it's doors is upon us. But with this, I am looking forward to launching my services as a videographer and film maker under a new name.

I want to thank all the people who have stood behind us, helped us with our productions, watched our videos, hired us, believed in us. It has been you, and you alone... who have helped me build the skills I have.

Jul 17, 2013

Giving up the booze for a month, and the future of Daniel Rutter Films


Hey guys;


It's been an interesting and quiet month here. I wrapped up all my work for the last wedding, the MySong Awards videos are cut and dried (just awaiting upload, which falls on the client to do so). I was tasked this week with the job of helping Luke Towney, lead vocalist of Storm In The Orphanage, create a promotional clip for his fundraising efforts with Cancer Care NSW. Luke is giving up all alcoholic beverages for the entire month of July to raise money. If you want to see the video, check it out here:



In other news, Daniel Rutter Films is offering a massive $150 discount on our premium wedding package, which I call the "All Day Package". The offer expires at the end of August.


And lastly: Sometime towards the end of the year, possibly earlier... we will no longer be operating under "Daniel Rutter Films". I have decided to move into what I call "phase 2" of business... and change my business name. I realise this will probably cause some confusion, so I'm currently working out a strategy to smoothen the transition. I'll keep you guys updated as I go.

Now, I'm running late for a meeting with a lady about a Doco. So, farewell... till next time, folks!