LaFilm Productions

Video, Film, Podcasting, Community Building, Education and Evangelizing on the Gulf Coast

Lenses – What to do?

I will admit that I’m a bit of a gear collector. (OK, I’m a HUGE gear collector!) When something new is announced, I’ll look into it, and if I like it, start obsessing about it! Sad, I know. Some people will be addicted to mind-altering substances… I’m addicted to new gear!

I am trying my best to wean myself off of this habit. It’s a difficult and slow journey, but I’m making progress, I think. My topic today is lenses. I’m looking to add to my lens kit with something more than the basic zooms I’ve acquired over the years. I mainly shoot with the Panasonic GH4, a micro 4/3 (MFT) format system. I do have in my kit a Metabones Speedbooster Ultra (0.71) EF-MFT adapter which allows me to use my one Rokinon 35mm f1.4 prime lens (photo style and declicked) and my one Canon 24-105 f4 zoom lens. In addition, I have two Panasonic Leica 12-35 f2.8 Vario lenses (one for each of my 2 GH4’s). The 12-35 makes a great walk around lens and an adequate lens for video interviews and such, but for video/film work, I want something with more control.

So a number of questions come to the fore:

  1. Do I buy MFT mount or EF mount lenses (using the Speedbooster)?
  2. Do I need a full set of primes or will one or two do the job?
  3. Do I go for the cheap lenses or get “spendy wit it”? (There is a limit to funds, tho…)
  4. What am I missing?

I know that there are pros and cons of each type of lens and I cannot buy one of each to have on hand. I also know that the lenses one uses should be reflective of the project. Would I truly need a full set of primes for a simple interview? Can I shoot a narrative film using just the 24-105? I mean, anything is possible, but what’s the “best” answer taking all of these things into consideration?

I’m doing research now and I’ll post my findings as I discover them! Please contact me if you have any input you’d like to share! My email is simply “Bob” @ this website!

Multicamera Production & Livestreaming

I grew up in the era when multicamera live production was the ultimate goal of almost every video production company. Everyone wanted their own live production van, with miles of cable, at least three studio cameras, and a big ass switcher (vision mixer to y’all from across the pond). The idea of taking 6 hours to set up your cameras and cable runs, adjust and match the colors of each camera, get that audio feed from the venue or set up your own audio board and microphones was pure bliss! Switching live and recording to SVHS or (gasp!) BetaSP without the need to edit afterwards was almost orgasmic!

The requirements were heavy, though. You needed a camera controller for each camera. You needed a TBC (Time Base Corrector) for each and every video feed to make sure they were exactly synchronized. You needed a Chyron or other graphics generator to roll in those lower thirds. If you were really high end, you had a DVE upstream (downstream?) of your switcher to fly in video or actually Chromakey in other sources. Just showing off your gear got you those plum paying jobs!

***Cue the flashback sound FX***
I remember shooting a dance recital with three cameras, two Panasonic AG-450 SVHS camcorders and a borrowed Panasonic AG-460 2-CCD S-VHS camcorder. (Hi-tech, you betcha!) I ran each off of a 75 foot S-VHS cable into a Panasonic WJ-MX50 switcher which output to a Panasonic AG-1970 S-VHS VCR. I took up an entire row with my gear and ran a lot of stingers to get power where I needed it! I paid two shooters to man two of the cameras and had the third in the center by me shooting static and wide. There were no graphics or video roll-ins. The finished tape was brought to the studio and thrown on the duplicator for delivery to the dance studio the next day. They were ecstatic and I was very happy with the check they handed over. Next day delivery of 40 tapes? Heaven!

***Cue the Sound FX again and flash back to the present***
Production has changed since then. Higher quality cameras, more options, the ability to edit quickly and easily made the necessity of multicamera live production not so necessary. I still craved that ability, though, and BlackMagic Design fed that deep dark desire in the form of their ATEM 4K Production Switcher. This device took me back to the days of my S-VHS portable studio! I could roll everything I needed into a 6RU roller case and be on location quickly. All I needed was my three SDI camcorders and reels of SDI cable and I was good to go. I was able to record full HD video to SSD, pop that video over to my editor after the show, add any additional music, video, or graphics not rolled in during the shoot and upload the file to my client’s website of choice.

Clients, however, want more, they want it faster, and they want it now. Using another computer, a way to transcode the video output into an MPEG stream and an internet connection, I could stream live to the internet. It’s a pain to setup, but doable.

But I’m looking for a way to put everything I need into a small backpack, do everything myself, cut multicam live and livestream to the internet while recording the isolated cameras (ISO recording) and have the ability to tweak the production after the fact if needed or desired.

You know, that just doesn’t exist… or does it? Enter the Sling Studio! Everything the Sling Studio does revolves around the Hub. The Hub is a $999.00 device that’s about the size of your average wireless router. You can add an optional $149.00 battery to the bottom or simply find a place to plug in to your average outlet. You need to either use an SD card or external USB-C storage device to use the Sling Studio. You also need a compatible iPad running the Sling Studio Console app to control everything. Finally you will need some source cameras, otherwise, why have the Sling at all?
For source cameras, you can use certain iPhones, Android phones, iPod Touchs (6th gen), or iPads running the Sling Studio Capture app. You can also buy the optional $349.00 Sling Studio CameraLink to connect a DSLR, camcorder, or any video source with HDMI out to the Hub.

The cameras connect to the hub using a special wifi SSID. Be awarre that this SSID is ONLY used to connect to the hub! The iPad and camera devices both use this SSID. The Hub can then be connected to internet either through another existing wifi SSID or using an optional ethernet adapter.

My setup includes the hub, three iPod Touchs, and a new 9.7″ iPad. I copied the setup Em of uses. Why recreate the wheel when something already works, right? I tested out the system recently at the recent Beignet Fest. My son wanted to do a livestream from the fest while doing a few interviews of some vendors. We found the vendors willing to be interviewed and found a place to plug in the hub. I have not yet purchased the external battery. It’ll be coming soon, though! The problem was finding an internet connection. My son brought out his phone, activated a wifi hotspot and we connected just fine… initially. We had some streaming issues probably due to the lack of a solid connection. But it was doable. We connected to the right Facebook page in a round about way. I’m guessing it’ll become more intuitive the more I use the system. My son, his coworker and my wife each grabbed a camera and started walking around. The two boys each attached a lav mic to the iPods for audio, but I think we’ll have to find another solution as the streamed audio was a bit echo-y. The stream cut out a few times and reconnected after a few minutes, probably due to the distances to the hub. The hub supposedly has a 300 foot range, but that range will be shorter if you are shooting around walls or metal structures like we were.

After the stream, I took the SD card out and easily imported the video into Adobe Premiere using a plugin provided by Sling Studio. I could go back and edit my cuts, adjust audio, graphics, whatever! This is one of the better parts of the system, IMHO!

I can see setting up a 4 camera live shoot, import a few videos for playback, graphics for lower thirds and a bug and livestream the event; then clean up the shoot in Premiere and upload the final video for the event planners to use as they see fit! Everything I have will easily fit into a backpack making travel, setup, and breakdown a breeze! I intend on purchasing the CameraLink devices to connect my Sony PXW-X70 cameras to the system. That would require me to have another camera bag and three tripod bags to carry around, but again, it’s still very doable!

Imagine going to a live event (presentation, recital, product launch, whatever!) Setting up three cameras that wirelessly connect to a simple iPad (via the Hub) which can remain in the backpack on battery if you wish, and livestream without any major impact upon the venue’s infrastructure! You want mobility? You got it! Want to put a camera on a crane? You got it! It’s the dream system without all the gear nightmares!

I’ll be doing more testing of the system as the days and weeks go by and I’ll be posting my thoughts here. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s an easily used and useful setup for most purposes. I invite you to check it out! If you’re interested in livestreaming and or multicamera production, it’ll be worth your time, trust me!

For those interested, here’s the video of the Beignet Fest! Enjoy!

Goodbye to Social Media

I’m taking a break; a long break! I’ve deleted all social media apps from my phone and all social media shortcuts and bookmarks from my browsers. I haven’t yet deleted my accounts, but that may happen sooner than later!

I’ve noticed that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and almost all the others that I checked into are bastions for negativity. If you say something “pro” anything, you’ll be bombarded by trolls who say they are “con” that thing! It’s not necessarily conservative vs. liberal, left vs. right, or politics; it’s mainly others being obnoxious because they believe that they can get away with it!

The Information Superhighway has become an Information Sludge Canal! You can’t find any information on any topic without false data being injected from all sides. This leads to a growth of false information because whose to say what’s actually right and wrong these days? I give you the recent growth of the online presence of the Flat Earth Society as an example.

Negativity, for negativity’s sake has a depressing effect on society. Even though you know that trolls are being trolls and you can intellectually dismiss them, the truth is that your outlook on life will suffer. You will find yourself becoming more depressed as the days wear on. You will become more angry at the little things in life. You will not be pleasant to be around. This is the fault of the trolls; and of course, it’s your fault as well!

You have a responsibility to take care of yourself and do what it takes to ensure you and your family thrive. You can’t take away the First Amendment rights of the trolls, and you can’t easily change your reaction to the pervasive online negativity. You can, however, remove the stimulus, i.e., get rid of social media!

I’ve missed a few events that I wanted to attend because of the removal of Facebook. I still have my phone and send and receive texts and emails, so I’m still available. I just don’t receive or acknowledge Messenger messages, tweets, or Instagram notifications any longer. There are contacts that I have only on social media that I no longer hear anything from. I may be missing an opportunity for a gig, but right now, it doesn’t matter. They have my contact information. If t’s important, they can reach me!

It’s been a little over a week since going cold turkey and I have to say, it’s been rough! The withdrawal pains are real! I still find myself looking at my phone throughout the day hoping to see a notification before I realize that there won’t be one coming. I linger over typing in the URL for Facebook… just to see what’s up, but stop myself knowing it’s for the best!

I found that I have more time for myself without social media. I can get things done at work faster than before because I don’t have the distractions of social media! I can drive the streets without worrying about that incoming notification. Is it important or is it about someone’s cat? All of that worry is gone!

I’m not saying I’ll be permanently off of social media, but I need some time away. Like a bad relationship, I need to “take a break” for a while. And it’s been nice! I suggest to all out there that you will see sunshine for what it is! You will be able to enjoy a meal without the worry of posting a picture of it before hand. You can get your work done and enjoy your free time more fully.

Yes, there are things I’ll miss, but what I’m gaining is so much better! As a gift to yourself and your family this holiday season, take a break from social media and enjoy the freedom. YOu won’t regret it!

Timecode – using what you’ve got.

I use Panasonic GH4 cameras in a majority of my shoots. For audio, I used a Tascam DR-70D but have recently upgraded to a Zoom F4. I can do a lot with this gear. One issue is the fact that I need to sync two video clips and up to four audio tracks for each take. I use Red Giant’s PluralEyes app to sync these clips using the audio waveforms in each file. Continue reading “Timecode – using what you’ve got.”

Livestreaming is… interesting. I just streamed the first test (and I’m keeping it, so y’all can see how “bad” it is! This stream is just a test to see if/how it works. I have a picture, I have switching between cameras, and I have an audio delay… a BAD audio delay! I’ll work on it..


Youtube Livestreaming

I’ve been playing around with some of my gear to see if I can create the “best” live streaming setup with the gear I have on hand, i.e., readily available. I’m just posting to let y’all know my process. BTW, this ISN’T an “I love BlackMagic Design” post. All items were purchased by me without any consideration given by BMD. Just saying…

Continue reading “Youtube Livestreaming”

LaFilm & the 2016 48HFP

From Friday, July 22nd at 7:30pm until Sunday, July 24th at 7:30pm, approximately 40 separate filmmaking teams had to pick a couple of genres from a hat, get assigned a few required elements and then brainstorm, write, shoot, edit, and turn in a completed 4-7 minute short film. 2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the 48 Hour Film Project here in New Orleans.

Continue reading “LaFilm & the 2016 48HFP”

Freeze Frame Episode 01 – Parker Layman

Caterina Piccone talks with Parker Layman as he gives us his take on filmmaking!
Take a listen and enjoy!
Subscribe on iTunes

Continue reading “Freeze Frame Episode 01 – Parker Layman”


OAW – One A Week

I’m attempting a bit of an exercise to create at least one video each week and publish it on social media for the world to see. The idea is to practice and exercise my skills and, maybe, learn a bit more of my craft. I’ll be the first to admit that I do not know everything about filmmaking. I don’t know a lot of things, but that only means I have the privilege of continuing to learn something new!

Continue reading “OAW”

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