Short post this week - I posted my SHOUT! teaser video to a mobile filmmakers group I'm a member of on facebook and got into a conversation about the Movi in the comments - shortly afterward Simon Horrocks of the Mobile Motion Film Festival reached out to me and asked if I would be up for writing a post for their website, so that's what I did with this week's "blog writing" time.
As you may have noticed over the last few months worth of blog posting, I was quietly agonizing over which mobile phone stabilizer to buy myself when it was finally time. I finally settled on the Movi, and this article sums up my main reasons for that. Click the image above to read it or you can check it out here.
A couple weeks ago, I traveled to Las Vegas for the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention. It’s held every April and all the major gear and software vendors (and countless smaller companies) show off the best of what they’ve got in the world of video and film production. And then on top of that there’s the educational elements, this year I took part in the “Post | Production World” (P|PW) set of sessions, and I also traveled out there with a good friend from school, Jared. It’s always interesting to get a different perspective on what we see at the show. As most of my experience is video production and most of his is audio, we look at different pieces of the convention through a different lens so to speak.
Of course I could go on forever about what I learned at any one year of the convention, but I'm going to try and keep as concise as possible and limit it to just this week and next week's posts. Lets see how well I do at that. This week I'm going to focus on the gear, next week I'll dig into some of the other stuff I learned out there.
So as you know, last week I was out at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Convention in Las Vegas. Though NAB has long ago stopped being just about broadcasting, its filled with sessions about all kinds of film and post techniques, and of course all the major gear manufacturers for all kinds of products related to "the industry" - plus networking opportunities.
And as usual, when I get back from being away from the office for a solid week, I hit the ground running Monday morning and haven't hardly had time to breathe, let alone collect my thoughts and go through all the information I picked up out there. So instead of a full blog post I'm going to start with what I guess could be called a "teaser".
Basically, in this post I'm going to post pictures of some of what stood out to me while I was out there at the convention, and if you want to know more about any particular image/piece of gear let me know and I'll include it in my blog post for next week which will have more pictures, and more detail (and some video too!) - I apparently just didn't have time to write a "real" blog post this first week back. So scroll down and let me know in the comments below if anything catches your eye:
I'm going to Las Vegas this weekend for NAB 2018!
If you don't know what NAB is, its the National Association of Broadcasters convention, and its held annually in the Las Vegas Convention Center. Its basically a big convention where all the newest toys in film and television are shown off, as well as serving as a major networking event where you can talk with the sales and tech people from different companies. You can get questions answered and put hands on some really awesome gear. (and there's a fair number of parties too!) All that aside, it also has a significant educational aspect to it.
The Sony FS5 is a camera I've had my eye on since they announced it. For the type of projects I generally gravitate to, its just about perfect (at least on paper), and as I've been saying for a while now - if I had a project that justified it, I'd buy one in a heartbeat. Well, I haven't bought it, but a couple weeks ago we (TPC) rented a couple FS5s for a project we were shooting for Bloomberg. Of course I also took the time to learn the camera a little ahead of time and shot some test footage down in Galveston.
Disclaimer: these are my thoughts after having my hands on the camera for about 3 and a half days of shooting, and then quickly running my test footage through post. While it gave me a good idea of the camera's capabilities, its by no means completely comprehensive. I always tell anyone who asks, never just buy a camera you've never used - find an excuse to rent it for a few days and shoot some tests. LensProToGo has them available to rent at a great price.
That out of the way, here's what I've learned - we'll start with the how it performed in the setting we rented the cameras for, and move on to the fun stuff in a minute, so if you came here for slow-motion and beachfront off-roading, just scroll on down past the news gathering.
In my last blog post, I dug into the photo capabilities of my new iPhone X - this week we'll look at the other new "mobile" photo solution I've got my hands on - the Insta 360 One - a GoPro sized 4K 360 camera that I got for Christmas. Now my primary reason for wanting it was to experiment with 360 video, which I have dabbled in a little since getting it, but not to enough of an extent to really talk on it. However, I have been using the still photo mode a lot recently. A couple weeks ago I took some 360's for the office and we'll look at a couple of them today, as well as one I shot as a test.
In my last blog post I went through a bunch of pictures I took with the A7s and the 70-200mm lens. This week I'll be going through some of the photos I've taken on my new phone.
A couple weeks ago I went ahead and bit the bullet and upgraded to the iPhone X - my iPhone 6+'s screen was acting up, and it was struggling to run apps I need to use on a day-to-day basis. And of course with Apple's upgrade program it just made good sense. Granted, the iPhone X is a lot more than just a good "point-and-shoot" camera that happens to be a phone. It responds significantly faster across the board, the camera processes images better, the augmented reality improvements that Apple keeps advertising are fun, the battery lasts longer, the screen looks amazing - I could go on. And of course the 256GB of storage gives me more than enough room for photos and video, especially important now that the phone has the ability to shoot RAW pictures and 4K video.
But for today's post I'm going to focus on what I've learned playing with some of the still photo features (mostly since I haven't had any time to play with the video yet). So lets dig in:
Let's change things up a bit this week - I've spent the last few posts talking about videos I've been working on, but today I'm going to go over a piece of gear I rented from LensPro ToGo back in October, the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 FE GM OSS G-Master Lens. This post will be a little longer than the last few, but there's so much to talk about here.
A few months back my a couple of my friends, Brian & Kristina, asked if I would photograph their wedding for them. Well, as many of you know, my "job" is video production/filmmaking, and while I shoot 90% of my own projects, I really do view my "photography" as more of a hobby. I've been asked by friends about shooting weddings before (both stills and video), and most of the time I'll refer them to other friends/colleges of mine who do that sort of thing more professionally, primarily because if I'm there for a friend's wedding, I'd rather be there for them as part of the moment rather than looking for the perfect shot through a viewfinder and focusing on the craft.
This was an exception though for many reasons, one of the main ones being that it was a small semi-formal/informal ceremony at CCCT, a space I know how to shoot in well, and there was no pressure to turn out a significant number of really good photos, she just wanted a few nice ones for memories.
Anyway, the wedding. To shoot it I knew I would need a longer and faster lens than what what I've normally got as part of my kit, so I rented the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 FE GM OSS G-Master to shoot the wedding and we also did a little post-wedding photoshoot later that weekend. (And while I had it for the weekend I grabbed some other test shots in Galveston).
The lens is - in a word, "wow".
Its sharp, the stabilization is awesome and it feels really solid to use. Not to mention the depth of field - its amazing what happens to the background of a subject at any "near" distance when shooting at 200mm and wide open to f2.8.
It took me a little longer than expected to find the time to go through the raw photos and pull the good ones. (Which is why this blog entry is so late - I had originally planned on posting this in November!) I was so excited to dig into the photoshop work after looking at the preview on the camera though - many of the pictures looked great with very minimal, if any, work in Photoshop. Most of what I ended up doing was using the RAW images to pull up shadows that would have otherwise faded to nothing.
Between the speed and sharpness of this lens, plus the sensitivity of my A7s, I was able to shoot at a fairly high shutter speed and effectively eliminate any jitter from me hand-holding the camera, even in the darker setting. None of these were shot from a tripod or any other support gear, and all of this was with available light, I didn't use any strobes or other production lights.
Lets take a look at some of my favorites from those shoots. Please note that I've gotten permission from my friend to post these on my site, however for all intents and purposes they own this photos and they are not to be downloaded or posted elsewhere without their permission. That said, lets dig in:
Okay, so I was going to write about my time with the rented Sony 200mm lens for this post, but I didn't have time to get any post out, let alone finish editing the photos so I can really say what I think of the lens.
Thomas Meek is an independent filmmaker living and working in Houston, TX