A Sneak Peek of Amsterdam’s International Broadcast Convention 2014

57

This weekend marks the start of the International Broadcast Convention (IBC). The annual meeting serves as the premier world-wide event for professionals directly involved with the creation and distribution of visual entertainment.

So, just how big is this year’s convention? Well, they’re looking to host over 50, 000 attendees from over 170 countries before the conference wraps up on September 16.

IBC Attendees in Action (Image Courtesy of IBC)

The best thing about IBC? It’s the place where companies go to roll out innovative new products. And this year’s convention doesn’t disappoint as Sony used it to debut the new Sony FS7.
Intended to compete with the Canon c300, the FS7 does some nifty stuff the C300 can’t do.
For example, the camera has a built-n handgrip on an articulating arm for ENG-style shooting. It also has zoom control for eng style lens with user-definable shortcut buttons. You can read a detailed review by the guys at Newsshooter.com (who love our Airbox Inflatable Softboxes!) at http://www.newsshooter.com/2014/09/12/sony-pxw-fs7-4k-super35-camera-the-best-of-all-worlds/.

Yes, IBC 2014 is definitely going to packed with new lighting equipment and video gear, no doubt. But… we of Airbox Inflatable Softboxes aren’t going, sadly. You might be able to see some of our cool inflatable softboxes for LED panels at the Dracast booth or the Litepanels booth, if you ask them!  Both of those companies do have some samples, since we have partnered together on several business projects. But you’ll probably have to ask.

                   Our Model 1×1 fitted over Astra Panel 

58Speaking of  Litepanels. we’re huge fans of their new Astra 1×1 panel. Which, incidentally, works perfectly with our very own Model 1×1 as you can see here.You’ll be able to see these at Booth # 11-E55, in the Vitec group area.

I like the improved ergonomics of the yoke, that the heavy parts like the battery mount or power supply are mounted on the yoke where it meets the stand, rather than on the back of the panel, which has always been an annoyance since the weight cause s the light to tilt. I liked that the yoke is now angled forward, so the yoke doesn’t get in the way of tilting the light down.  This is particularly handy when you’ve got a softbox on the front of it. It’s truly a great product from the people pioneered   LED panel lighting.  Plus, it’s reasonably priced,  costing around $1500.
If you’re not able to make it to the festivities, don’t fret as it you’ll be able to view  the 24-hour live stream on their site. You can catch all the excitement of the IBC  at http://www.ibc-tv.org.
Although we’re not going to the convention, we’re still offering up a pretty big deal for our valued customers. From now until September 18, every purchase of the Model 1×1 earns you 20% off on the Model 126. Just go to our Amazon store and use offer code I2432KA8. It’s a perfect way to really save big on two of our most popular products.
Until next time!

Tom

Airbox LED softboxes on: Mirrorless better than DSLR for video?

Is mirrorless the new deal for DSLRs and lower-budget smaller-scale video shooting?  Or I guess I should say “DSLM”.  That’s the new term I heard at the WPPI trade show in Las Vegas last week. It was most often mentioned cheek-to-jowl with the term “hybrid” photography, which was also new to me. Mirrorless and hybrid are a trend, which you can see with the field dominating Canon releasing its EOS-M to jump into the fray.

Will Crockett feels strongly this way.  his aurdience is primarily photographers who are transitioning over towards video, since their clients are asking them to.  Some of mine are asking me the reverse:
“did you shoot any stills when you were shooting that part?” And my answer’s always, uh, no, because I was shooting video. I didn’t shoot any stills.  Maybe that’s a lack of planning on my part, that maybe I SHOULD shoot stills along the way when I’m shooting video. So shooting “hybrid” is apparently more and more of the new deal for all of us.

I pressed him on a few of the points in his video.
1.Why’s he think it’s so much easier to shoot video with mirrorless like a gh2 or gh3 than with the old favorite the 5d?
response:  a) autofocus actually works on mirrorless cameras for video, but autofocus in unavailable in video to DSLRs other than the Sony a99.  b)mirrorless is natively 16:9, making post a little easier. c)more video options like 720 or interlaced available in mirrorless and Sony alphas  d)better overall low light performance in mirrorless.  Performance in his words being a combination of being able to autofocus, judge AWB, and produce good image quality above ISO 2000.

2. Autofocus for video:  I said I still find the autofocus on my GH2 not sufficiently reliable for video work. Sometimes it can follow a moving subject, sometimes it just completely blows it and makes the background really sharp.
Response: Agreed, but still better than you can’t ever use it at all.

3.Lots of lenses available:  My impression is yes, you can use lots of lenses on a micro 4/3 mount, technically the most of any format, but in reality, a lot comes down to the quality of the adapters, and a lot of the affordable ones are crap. The lack of iris control on my Canon EF mount lenses when on a m43 mount, not to mention the sloppy wobbly connection between the lens and the camera, makes those lenses basically unusable on m43. There is that cool 550$ smart adapter from redrock micro, but that’s pretty spendy. Not to mention the 2x crop factor of the M43 sensor, where your nice wide 24mm EF mount is all of a sudden basically a normal perspective lens.
Response: agreed.  He tries to avoid using adapters except for his Leica glass. Using native lenses is far preferable in most cases.

One thing that can be handy about mirrorless is they’re much smaller and usually less expensive for both bodies and glass than pro DSLRs.  Now that Lumix has put out a series of top-quality lenses for M43 format, it feels like a real alternative. When I first got my GH2, there was no fast “normal” zoom available, the equivalent of the Canon L 24-70 2.8. It caused me some heartburn.  Thankfully, now there are the Lumix G X series lenses, which are awesome.  And small! And not that pricey! Only about 1200$ each.

Small camera? Small can be very good sometimes.
When you’re just using it as a SLR-style camera, or traveling, that’s cool.  I find once I kit it out with all my crap for video, like my d-focus cage, rods, monitor, full-size tripod, and mini slider, it’s far from small. Sure is nice to rig up on something.

Here’s when little is a big advantage. Check this out:

13I don’t think you could do that with a chunky SLR with a big lens on it.  well, maybe, but it wouldn’t be as fast and it would be harder to do and bounce around more and maybe not work.

Conclusion:
While it’s not the only way to shoot video, and all of our favorite DSLRs are still leading the field, I think the day isn’t that far away when it will just seem like the more logical choice to shoot video with sleek little DSLMs packed with pro video features than with “big” DSLRs. They’re just more video-friendly.  I’m not going to get into the partisan fight about which camera looks better, but there are a lot of just plain practical concerns that make mirrorless attractive. HD live feed to your monitor, for one, so you can keep stuff in focus once you start rolling.

When you’re shooting small like this, you’ll want your lighting kit to be pretty compact too. What better way than totally collapsible almost weightless softboxes for your LED panels? Check us out.
yours
Tom Guiney
Airboxlights.com
Inflatable softboxes for LED Panels

 

Matting a subject into an existing background and matching the light.

When you’re matting the subject of your shoot into a plate of an existing background from another prior shoot, I think what gives away the fakery the most is if the lighting doesn’t match.  I will show you a little homegrown experiment in attempting to make two people shot in a “studio” look like they were lit by the same light as was falling in an earlier outdoor situation.
This is the original situation, a meadow on Martha’s Vineyard.  Much more scenic a background than my living room.

It is handy to have some kind of reference for what the light was like in the earlier situation. That is something I didn't have. The closest thing to that I have is the tree on the right side of frame.  Looking at the tree, you can see that there was warm, hardish light falling on it that is kind of sidey or three-quarter backy. It's shadow side is pretty dark, but that's a detail I chose to not imitate as faithfully. The need to have an accurate reference is why the special effects guys shoot a few frames of a little painted ball and a reflective sphere in the same lighting setup as you just shot the live action.  It shows them what and where the lights were, and how they looked on the subject. The mirrored chrome  phere shows them all the lights, and the painted ball shows them what the direction and quality of light was falling on the talent. Lacking any reference for the viewer in frame can be handy too, since if you've fudged it a lot, no one will know. In this situation, the tree and the hillside are the only reference points the viewers will have. All the viewer will know is a sense of warm light, coming from a low angle, sidey and backy,  relatively hard. The wash over the grass on the hillside even suggests that the light isn't necessarily that hard. Since I was lighting a portrait, I chose not to be entirely faithful to the light in the photo.  Hard sidey late-season light  with a deep shadow side might not be the most flattering thing for a holiday portrait. The studio setup:

It is handy to have some kind of reference for what the light was like in the earlier situation. That is something I didn’t have. The closest thing to that I have is the tree on the right side of frame. Looking at the tree, you can see that there was warm, hardish light falling on it that is kind of sidey or three-quarter backy. It’s shadow side is pretty dark, but that’s a detail I chose to not imitate as faithfully.
The need to have an accurate reference is why the special effects guys shoot a few frames of a little painted ball and a reflective sphere in the same lighting setup as you just shot the live action. It shows them what and where the lights were, and how they looked on the subject. The mirrored chrome phere shows them all the lights, and the painted ball shows them what the direction and quality of light was falling on the talent.
Lacking any reference for the viewer in frame can be handy too, since if you’ve fudged it a lot, no one will know. In this situation, the tree and the hillside are the only reference points the viewers will have. All the viewer will know is a sense of warm light, coming from a low angle, sidey and backy, relatively hard. The wash over the grass on the hillside even suggests that the light isn’t necessarily that hard.
Since I was lighting a portrait, I chose not to be entirely faithful to the light in the photo. Hard sidey late-season light with a deep shadow side might not be the most flattering thing for a holiday portrait. 

The studio setup:2

Not fancy.  A bit awkwardly narrow. But it worked. If we were shooting motion and not stills, it would have to be a greenscreen (not blue because she has blue eyes and I had on a purple shirt) and be pretty evenly lit.  Still are much more forgiving, so a purple bedsheet worked out fine. I used the two kinos at the left rear to make a large wrappy 3/4 back source, 2900 bulbs plus 1/4cto and light grid cloth. The key is a 3' chimera Octaplus with a 1k bulb and 1/2 soft frost over the face. I didn't use the stock diffusion that comes with it, I clipped a layer of half soft frost to it so it wouldn't get too soft,  retaining some of the specular quality of the bare bulb and silver reflector inside.  All the light in the landscape frame is on the hard side, and I didn't want the key light to jump out at the viewer as being overtly different. I had a large 12' black negative fill taking the shadow side way down, killing all the bounce from the whitish wall, but it ended up looking too gloomy and noir, so I ended up furling it out of the way and adding a 1x1 litepanel instead as an eyelight. I chose not to go as hard as the real sun in the picture because I thought I could get away with it and that it would be more flattering on my wife's features. There's no obvious frontlight source in the landscape photo, but all the lit background areas are distant enough from the lens that the viewer really doesn't know what's close to the lens. Perhaps a soft 3/4 front key could even make sense...

Not fancy. A bit awkwardly narrow. But it worked.
If we were shooting motion and not stills, it would have to be a greenscreen (not blue because she has blue eyes and I had on a purple shirt) and be pretty evenly lit. Still are much more forgiving, so a purple bedsheet worked out fine.
I used the two kinos at the left rear to make a large wrappy 3/4 back source, 2900 bulbs plus 1/4cto and light grid cloth. The key is a 3′ chimera Octaplus with a 1k bulb and 1/2 soft frost over the face. I didn’t use the stock diffusion that comes with it, I clipped a layer of half soft frost to it so it wouldn’t get too soft, retaining some of the specular quality of the bare bulb and silver reflector inside. All the light in the landscape frame is on the hard side, and I didn’t want the key light to jump out at the viewer as being overtly different. I had a large 12′ black negative fill taking the shadow side way down, killing all the bounce from the whitish wall, but it ended up looking too gloomy and noir, so I ended up furling it out of the way and adding a 1×1 litepanel instead as an eyelight. I chose not to go as hard as the real sun in the picture because I thought I could get away with it and that it would be more flattering on my wife’s features. There’s no obvious frontlight source in the landscape photo, but all the lit background areas are distant enough from the lens that the viewer really doesn’t know what’s close to the lens. Perhaps a soft 3/4 front key could even make sense…

Here’s the pre-edit photo from the shoot:

4

And here’s the final result.

There is a greenish kick on Alex' camera right cheek and neck that comes from the landlord-chosen semi-white wall paint, but I left it in since it seems to work, echoing the yellow-green grass we also see on frame right. The edge on the back of my head and shoulder are consistent with what we see raking across the grass. The key level is a bit brighter than is absolutely believable given where we know the sun is, but hey.  I wanted us to look nice. So how successful is the fakery? Important question is how successful does it need to be for the client's purposes. In this case, the client is me, and the target market is friends, family, and colleagues with whom I want to keep in touch with.  A forgiving bunch, generally. Not one where you get a lot of clients furrowing their brows and reaching out to touch a certain little spot on the monitor.  Knowing where the image is headed gave me the leeway to light it more flatteringly and a little less realistically, and it's important to know how strictly realistic it ought to be. Choose your battles.

There is a greenish kick on Alex’ camera right cheek and neck that comes from the landlord-chosen semi-white wall paint, but I left it in since it seems to work, echoing the yellow-green grass we also see on frame right. The edge on the back of my head and shoulder are consistent with what we see raking across the grass. The key level is a bit brighter than is absolutely believable given where we know the sun is, but hey. I wanted us to look nice.
So how successful is the fakery? Important question is how successful does it need to be for the client’s purposes. In this case, the client is me, and the target market is friends, family, and colleagues with whom I want to keep in touch with. A forgiving bunch, generally. Not one where you get a lot of clients furrowing their brows and reaching out to touch a certain little spot on the monitor. Knowing where the image is headed gave me the leeway to light it more flatteringly and a little less realistically, and it’s important to know how strictly realistic it ought to be. Choose your battles.

Hi-speed shooting, tungsten filaments, and flicker/pulse

Tweeted on the topic of high- fps shooting today.  More info here:

It is commonly understood that when you’re shooting above 120 fps, you can’t use small lights, that a 5k is the smallest light that you can use.  Why? In brief, because a smaller, thinner filament can cool and therefore dim quickly, as the AC voltage cycles up and down 60 times per second on a 60-hz system.  To the eye, and a normal framerate, the very brief dim period of out put in between +120volts and -120volts that happens 60 times each second isn’t visible at all, the same way you can’t see hummingbird wings or helicopter blades.  When you’re shooting extremely high speed, these “brief” dim periods are extremely obvious, and the lights that appear steady to your eye appear to be pulsing in a very odd way.  With larger, thicker filaments, like on a 10k or 20k, it takes a much longer time for the heat and light to dissipate out of the metal, and by the time the filament would be noticeably darker, the voltage has already reached it’s next peak and the brightness of the filament is restored.
Today it was pointed out to me by a DP I’m about to work with that the “nothing under 5k” rule is actually a conservative overcompensation(a little typical of us gaffers and electricians, I think).  I’ve pulled maxibrutes (9 x 1k Par-64 bulbs) off of an order because I heard that we were adding a bit of high speed.  Jim Matlosz (Www.dpmatlosz.com) clearly knows what he’s doing, if you look at his site, and he said, “Yeah, you get away with it sometimes. 1ks?  Yeah. I’ve seen them flicker, and I’ve seen them not. We’ll try it.” But in any case, he firmly asserted that 2k is the safe smallish light, not 5k.
Regular tube-shaped kinos are fine when they’re bright enough, because kino ballasts ramp up the frequency of the current to about 10,000 hz.  Interestingly, the u-shaped kinos like diva lights, parabeams, and vistabeams are problematic sometimes.  That requires further research; I don’t know why they aren’t fine and the straight tubes are.  They must use lower-frequency ballasts.
“Flicker-free” HMIs:- those arent really flicker free.  Their brightness still increases and decreases 60 times per second, but they become “flicker-free” by squaring off the top of the AC sine wave.  The amplitude(height) of the wave is increased, but a filter is applied that cuts off the top of the wave beyond a certain point, which gives you an almost completely flat-topped, steep-sided waveform, almost a true square wave.  This results in seeing the maximum brightness for a relatively longer time out of each cycle and having the transition between brightness peaks be relatively brief.In any case, don’t use flicker free HMIs at a framerate higher than 150 fps. Some people say 120, but that might be just staying on the safe side.

yours
Tom Guiney, gaffer and DP
Airboxlights.com inflatable LED diffusers for Litepanels
twitter lighting tips @airboxlights

Expansion @airboxlights twitter feed of lighting tips, tricks, and opinions

 I’m Tom Guiney, a gaffer, electrician and DP for fourteen years in New York City, and the owner/inventor of Airboxlights.com, your source for ultralight inflatable softboxes/diffusers for Litepanels.

This blog is intended as a co-blog to my twitter feed @airboxlights, where I put lighting tidbits up a few times a week,  sharing my lighting work experience in the world of commercials, on-air promos, reality shows, corporate videos, movies, tv shows, and music videos.
Expansion on recent tweet:
tidbit: Underused light- molebeam beam projector. Powerful defined tungsten beam. Hard model key? window light? like a tungst xenon.

Here’s a link: http://www.mole.com/lighting/beams/tun_beam/tung_beam.html

Have you used them?  They are awesome!  They put out a powerful super-refined beam with very distinct edges.  Useful in some of the same ways a leko is, except for when you need more than 750 watts, the maximum size HPL lamp.  Molebeams come in 2k, 5k, 10k, and 20k.

A molebeam is great when you need something like a shaft of light effect, but you’re in a tungsten lighting situation.  A bit like a xenon, but without a lot of the obvious problems of xenons, like unreliability, the hole in the middle of the beam (on older ones), and being unable to unplug them in a hurry for fear of exploding bulbs.

Also very useful to bounce into a board that’s rigged up and behind the subject. If it’s too much hassle/time/logistical difficulty to actually rig a backlight, you can generally rig up a piece of silver/white beadboard there, with tape if nothing else, and then hit it with a leko or a molebeam, since they  don’t really spill the way a fresnel does and won’t require any gripping to keep spill off of the front of your subject.

Also useful just as tungsten source to use as a bounce source for key/fill/wherever, not rigged; it’s still a 2k/5k/10k/20k.

Useful for creating crisply-defined shadows as well. 

You can always soften a very hard source, but you can’t harden a mushy source.  Try casting a crisp shadow with a kino, tell me how that goes.

yours
Tom Guiney, gaffer and DP
Airboxlights.com inflatable LED diffusers for Litepanels
twitter lighting tips @airboxlights