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Making it easier to create HDR content

While working on our recent 4K HDR productions – London Light, Hever Castle and Above London (see below) – we learned a lot of lessons about handling 4K rushes, 4K and HDR edits and coping with the extra demands of grading and mastering in HDR.

The process was made much more straightforward by partnering with highly experienced post production companies - Molinare, grading specialist Narduzzo Too, Digital Vision, Avid, 4K editing specialist Proper Gander Films and full-service post boutique Roundtable Films.

Together we worked through all the little niggly things, including how to ingest content for the offline, which codec to transcode to, how to successfully move the edit through to the various post production stages, the different techniques for grading the HDR version as well as the corresponding standard-dynamic range version, and how to create the multitude of deliverables required for the different HDR and SDR versions.

Like anything, once you know how to do it, it all seems fine, but there was a lot to learn on the journey to get there, and a lot of headaches and frustrations on the way.

One of the pieces of kit we found invaluable at the later stages of the process, for creating the HDR and SDR deliverables and even for creating the SDR version in the first place, was Colorfront's Transkoder mastering tool (pictured below).

Put simply, without it, we'd have found it extraordinarily difficult to master all our 4K HDR films correctly to play out on large displays at various trade events.

Its faster-than-real-time processing transcodes, decodes, converts and processes files to various high-end file formats, including dual 4K outputs for simultaneous HDR and SDR mastering, Dolby Atmos audio and Dolby Vision encoding. Transkoder 2016 has tools for HDR metadata inspection, mastering and QC, fast generation of light level statistics, as well as support for the latest HDR formats.

On top of this, it is able to remap from SDR to HDR and vice versa, making it possible to create the different versions automatically, producing a great starting point for further tweaking or even the final deliverable.

Jack Jones, colourist, Roundtable Films says: “We've had the Transkoder for four weeks now, having originally used it to master for the Hever Castle project. We're using it for a wide range of things – from DCP creation for Nick Broomfield's upcoming feature film through to generating H.265s and ProRes files with HDR metadata flags.”

“Additionally we're looking at using it as our in-house mastering station allowing us to make multiple deliverables simultaneously – DPP for broadcast, versioning for textless, ProRes files for the production company, H.264 screeners both with and without BITC as well as authoring DVDs and Blu-Rays,” he adds. “The best part is being able to prepare all the deliverables and just hitting go. H.265s were super easy to make. The HDR metadata flagging is simple and reliable as well as the rendering being super quick.”

Jones also made up of Transkoder's re-mapping to convert an HDR master of Above London to a standard-dynamic range version. “The HDR to SDR mapping tool is excellent and ideal for HDR-10 delivery,” he says. “You can work scene-by-scene but the results are pretty fantastic to begin with. On a broadcast hour you could comfortably do your SDR trim pass in a half day.”

Meanwhile, Adam Peat, Chief Engineer at The Farm, says the post giant uses Transkoder “for the creation of file deliverables (including DCP and IMF), colourspace conversions and file QCs.” He too has used the mapping tool to create different HDR and SDR versions: “The end result needs a trim pass in a grading suite but it accelerated the process,” he says. “Transkoder is a powerful tool and really offers a bunch of useful functions.”

You can see SDR versions of Televisual Creative's HDR films below. To follow Televisual Creative on twitter click here. To see more of our work, click here.

Above London in 4K - an SDR version of an HDR short film from Televisual Media on Vimeo.

Hever Castle, Kent - Behind-the-scenes (in 4K) - SDR version of HDR film from Televisual Media on Vimeo.

Hever Castle (SDR version) 4K UHD from Televisual Media on Vimeo.

The Beauty of Hever - SDR of HDR UHD short film from Televisual Media on Vimeo.

London Light 4K UHD timelapse of London - longer version from Televisual Media on Vimeo.

Posted 23 March 2017 by Jake Bickerton

Heads of production: technology roundtable

Televisual invited a panel of senior production executives working across broadcast disciplines to discuss their technology choices, workflows and challenges. Here’s what they had to say.

Around the table were:
Shireen Abbott, Director of Production, Twofour Group

John Brennan, Group Chief Executive Officer, Procam

Jason Crosby, Chief Operating Officer, Monkey Kingdom

Helena Ely, Head of Production, Wall to Wall

Carl Hall, Managing Director, Warehouse 51 Productions

Rick Horne, Head of Post and Facilities, Two Four Group

John Jamieson, Commercial Director, Splice Post

Patrick Nelson, Territory Account Manager, Avid

Liz Pearson, Post production Supervisor, Freelance

Ruth Session, Senior Production Executive, Freelance

Natalie Triebwasser, Head of Production, Quicksilver Media

Claire Walker, Head of Production, Raw Cut

Which camera?
For most of our panel, each new production or series came with a deliberation over the choice of camera, with final choice dictated by budget, familiarity, resolution, reputation and broadcaster request. The desired final look was mostly a trade-off against ease of use, based largely on budget. Although there’s an ever greater range of cameras available on the market, the same makes and models were consistently name-checked in line with this year’s Production Technology Survey.

Jason Crosby (JC)
We like the Sony F3. That’s the main camera we’ve been shooting Made in Chelsea on for the last five-and-a-half years. Chelsea has a really good, consistent look that would be hard to replicate with another camera. We have tested a variety of other cameras but it works for us despite having to use a Nanoflash for 35 / 50 mb/s broadcaster requirements.

John Brennan (JB)
I think the sensor on the F3 is fantastic, but it doesn’t meet EBU standards. I would recommend the Canon C300. Canon has a history of photographic quality 35mm DSLRs, although the C300 Mark II is twice the price of the recent Sony FS7.

Claire Walker (CW)
Pretty much all of our shows have a different camera, generally because of the timing of when we start filming. Some of the challenges are budgetary. In 2012 we used the Canon 305s because they were small and robust. Then we moved over to the Sony EX range, Sony PMW200s, and now the new Sony PXW300s that are much better shooting at night. The FS7 doesn’t work for all of our shows due to the need to change lenses, although we do shoot with it.

Natalie Triebwasser (NT)
I like to be one step behind the bleeding edge. We used to have the 305s, then the Canon C300s. We’ve been asked to look at the FS7 for our next production. We’re also looking at the FS5 as it’s lighter.
JBThe FS7 is a proven field camera and 99% of hire companies stock this in preference to the FS5. As a rental house you always want to buy the best of the variants for your customers.

Rick Horne (RH)
We’ve just bought a couple of FS7s for a specific project where there was an option to go with the C300. I don’t believe for the programmes Natalie is probably making, it’s always going to be enhanced by changing camera. We’ve got some 305s that are slowly dying that have been brilliant. We’ve got some C300s, some XDCam, 700s and 800s, that I love and Panasonic mini-cams for rig shows.

Helena Ely (HE)
We shoot drama on the Arri Alexa. We’re now using the Alexa Mini for a drama / factual hybrid as it’s more flexible.

Ruth Sessions (RS)
A lot of people shoot dramas on high-resolution cameras so they can crop in. But you can’t if you’re delivering 4K. In docs, once tape came along people often used to shoot everything and worry about it in the edit. But with 3D or 4K, you can’t afford to, you have to control the shoot. The volume of data affects everything, including the choice of locations and fine-tuning the shots.

Liz Pearson (LP)
The Arri is a wall-to-wall camera. DoPs and graders like it because it has a greater latitude. Everything should be tailored to what you set the look to on set.

Carl Hall (CH)
For Animal Planet, we’ve got seven F55s shooting down in South Africa, which are brilliant. We’re also shooting an antiques series, mainly on the Canon 305s. When we shoot in the auction houses we only have a couple of days, so we shoot them in 4K and later zoom in to the detail and release footage back to the auction houses [for no money] and add value. 4K lenses are a bugger at the moment. They’re difficult to get hold of.

JB Most people shooting 4K aren’t using 4K lenses. At TLS we’re reconditioning vintage lenses. A lot of them are 6K and 8K ready, even though some of them are 35 years old. A “4K lens” is a marketing gimmick.

CH In wildlife we need lenses to hold focus, right to the edge of frame with no drop off and it’s very demanding. Discovery supplied us with these amazing Canon 50 – 1,000mm lenses but there are almost none of them available at the moment. They’re really difficult to get hold of.

Camera Wish List

Eliminating operator error, broadcast spec mini cams and ease of use were at the top of our panel’s wish list.

CW It would be nice to shoot with the Sony FS7 but not have the inconvenience of needing to change lenses. My main wish would be for a powerful mini cam.

RS A feature that eliminates operator error. It’s a production-threatening problem. You put in all sets of checks and balances.

LP Something to say, ”Is this what you really wanted?”

CH A chip you could write on to and install with all the main constraints and defaults to correct settings and see who’s on the camera.

NT Durability and to stop sand getting behind the lenses.
Shooting and Mastering in 4K and HDR
Most of our panellists weren’t being asked for 4K (or HDR) but those that were saw demand increasing in the very near future.

LP We’re already mastering in 4K for three shows for Netflix and Amazon. I think 4K’s going to go mainstream really quickly, within a year.

RS I think it’s horses for courses. Say you’re filming somewhere really iconic like the pyramids. You’ve got all sorts of re-versioning and clips sales potential if you own the rights. But if you’ve got presenters nipping in and out of every shot and you haven’t got the time to get the shots clean without them, it’s probably not worth it. If you can shoot certain scenes in 4K as a relatively small investment… you might be showing a city that doesn’t exist in time to come.

CH I shot in 4K for Area 51 (as we only had one day) so we could go back to the detail we saw in the hangar. When I ran a distributor business, we got in to HD when it first came in and when the HD channels came on stream, we simply re-mastered our programmes and sold them again with a mark-up. If you own your assets, you should look to shoot 4K. Look at all those old film masters now being re-mastered as 4K.

RS We’re behind the curve here. In the Far East, a lot is 4K and 8K and they want high frame rates. Have you got any 8K at 60 fp/s? But when broadcasters started commissioning HD, they only gave a 15% uplift.

LP 4K post adds an almost 50% mark-up. For Amazon we’re doing an HDR grade for future transmission in 4K as a dual delivery. As soon as we started shooting HDR, we did a test as you have to be careful with data cameras as you can get artefects under certain conditions. 4K monitoring on set is so important.

RS I agree. I’d rather not risk having an ineffective shoot day and write it off.

LP In the grade we do the SDR version first followed by the HDR. You’ve got to have an HDR monitor in the grade. I love the look of HDR but it can be incredibly unforgiving on make-up, hair, costume...

HE A bit like HD when it first came in….

JB I would say 4K acquisition is up 40% over the last year - mastering in 4K but not always delivering. If you look at Sky now, they’re asking for 4K, and will very soon be broadcasting in 4K. Any music concerts we support are always 4K. Once the consumer starts experiencing 4K HDR, everyone will have to catch up as watching HDR is more stunning than 3D: dynamic being the key word.

Editing Systems
Avid was all of the panel’s primary editing platform. Integrating Premiere within workflow was also discussed.

Patrick Nelson (PH)

Media Composer did have a complete revamp and is now more flexible in what we can do and what we can adopt. The Alliance Partnership means that Adobe Premiere is a first-party client on Avid storage and integrated within the Avid platform. All of our products are now interconnected and a lot of third-party products are also becoming interconnected within the platform. Our goal is to make that end-to-end process as easy as we can possibly make it.

John Jamieson (JJ) Splice Post tries to be agnostic and provide for Premiere projects and try to get them in to Avid Land as soon as possible: partly because that’s what we understand, partly that’s where our money’s been spent, but also because there hasn’t so far been any other platform that provides for a collaborative workflow and a professional grading platform.

JC We use Avid, pretty much the whole way through. It’s the scalability when we have major projects.

CW Avid for the main show while our development team use Adobe Premiere. They’re not editors and it’s nice and easy, in and out.

CH We have so many mixed file sizes, the ingestion people that we hire know Avid really well. Different frame rates and issues are all fixed before the editor gets it.

Cloud based Editing
There were two very separate issues relating to whether you’re remote editing or logging. Patrick summarised it as, “logging is typically working with low-res proxies, while remote editing is pushing and pulling large files where you need a big pipe”.

JJ Editors shouldn’t spend 500 hours looking through rushes sitting in expensive real estate. It’s great to have people remotely sifting through the media but loggers aren’t generally editorial. You need to be clear about whether you’re viewing to log or to edit and where the editorial decision sits in the process.

RH Avid Everywhere does have potential, it looks like the thing that will plug that gap. I see it as a tool for junior editors, producers, for a small-scale single camera shoot as a logging tool.

HE For logging, not for editing.

RH To do a fully remote edit is just not quite right. You need your editor and creative director in a room together being creative not so much having your editor in a bedroom editing remotely for three weeks.

CW The people on the shoot are not the people I want to be doing the edit. It’s a separate process.

NT I’ve heard of people getting the PD to do most of the edit and bring in a professional editor for the last week. They’re doing so many jobs already it fills me with horror.

Shireen Abbott (SA) There are some projects where you may be filming over a year and want to be cutting things as you go and this calls for not just logging, not editing… whatever this thing is in the middle. You don’t need to go in to an edit suite. You do need a solution for it, to knock it down. They’re paper editing anyway, so do it on a timeline, do it on a laptop.

LP Who is going to be carrying out all of the technical checks on the picture if it’s coming down as a low-res proxy? We don’t know the DIT’s skill level, so hopefully your editor will catch it before it gets to a post facility.

RS The moments we’ve wanted remote editing to be a possibility, it was simply too remote.

The choice of grading artist (mostly by the director or DoP) was more important for the panel than the choice of grading system.

LP Grading is one of the areas that’s still a skill.

HE We grade in-house, but for drama or high-end factual we go out of house if there’s a case.

RS If you have a particularly complex project, you’d stay with a particular post house or artist who knows what you want.

CH For wildlife, we need such powerful systems because we’re matching shots from 10 years ago. I think the way it’s projected is more important.

The heads of production round table was sponsored by Avid, Procam and Splice.

Posted 01 September 2016 by Jake Bickerton

A Lighting Cameraman's review of the Sony FS5

Director of Photography/Lighting Cameraman Peter Moseley has more than 20 years experience shooting features, drama, commercials and factual programming. He has filmed over 100 commercials as well as BBC factual strands Horizon, Arena and Panorama.

He owns and operates a Sony F5 and a Canon C300, and was really interested in finding out more about Sony’s recent addition to its XAVC camera range, the FS5, which was first revealed at IBC2015.

With the camera now having had a few months to establish itself in the very crowded camera marketplace, Televisual arranged for Peter to get hold of an FS5 for three to four weeks in return for writing us a review. Here’s what Peter thought about the camera........

Peter's review of the Sony FS5

Created as part of a fairly extensive Sony family of 4K-capable cameras using the XAVC codec, the FS5 has a great deal to offer and is a camera that fulfils a number of uses. It’s light, flexible and easy to operate and is an ideal camera for ob docs and actuality. 

It’s a handy camera for natural history and remote filming as it’s so small and easy to carry. It can also work as a second camera for its bigger brothers the FS7 or F5, where matching shot would not be that difficult. Stripped down, it is also useful as a camera for larger drones.

In looks, it has a similarity to the Canon C300. In fact, the camera would fit seamlessly into rigs originally created for their C300. Like the C300, it has an easily detachable handle and monitor, however, on the FS5 these are much more robust and well designed.

I would guess the FS5 has been created to supersede the FS700. It has many of its features, including cached super slow motion, and a similar menu. But, having had time to get this camera right, and with the rapid advances in technology, the FS5 also incorporates some remarkable features such as face recognition, electronic variable ND and full auto capabilities. This makes it a camera that will create good pictures, virtually straight out of the bag.

The FS5 shoots to fast SDXC cards, which is a major advantage as they are fairly cheap, standard cards.

The FS5 offers up to 4K recording. This is at present limited to the lower end 4:2:0 8-bit colour sampling XAVC L codec, partly due to using SDXC cards.

Having a play with the codec in Slog3, it does restrict what is possible in the grade. When trying to match cameras you can see discernable differences in quality. There have been issues with this codec and Avid and it’s something that will have to be resolved between the two companies.

The equivalent mLUT applied to the viewfinder also makes it difficult to see what you’re actually getting, and, with 4:2:0 8-bit exposure, this is much more critical. However, that being said, this camera does produce remarkable pictures. Additional codecs enable you to shoot from AVC to 4K, which makes the FS5 very flexible for filming everything from low budget corporates to broadcast documentaries.


Electronic Variable ND
The FS5 has many features that are quite unique. It is one of the first cameras to have an electronic variable ND, which is particularly useful if you want to maintain depth of field rather than pulling stop. Using variable nds on the front has become the norm for filming with many large sensor cameras, which has not been ideal, restricting matte box use and issues of flare. It’s also handy when moving from different lighting conditions – going from inside to outside – and when using Canon glass with an adaptor you don’t get the problem of incremental clicking.

Centre Scan
The camera has the centre scan function in HD, which is assignable to any of the assign buttons and allows you to double your lens size, which can be very useful. It also means you are able to use 2/3 inch HD lenses and 16mm lenses, with the right adaptors. The caveat to this is it is important to make sure the lens is properly supported, as the E mount isn’t strong enough on such a small camera.

Assign Buttons and Handle
You can assign many functions to the assign buttons, which make it very simple to move between settings. On top of this, much of the functionality of the camera can be easily operated through the FS5 camera handle. The handle is well designed, allowing you to swivel and to shoot at different camera heights.

Picture Profiles
The camera has a number of picture profiles, including Slog2 and Slog3, as well as hypergammas and standard 709 settings. There are therefore plenty of options for getting a variety of looks and getting the most out of the camera’s 14 stops of dynamic range. The XAVC codec has proved to be a great improvement on the HD 422 Mpeg2 codec and so much more versatile for colourists and in the edit.

High Speed
The high speed capabilities of this camera are quite remarkable and the camera operates in a similar fashion to the FS700 with a picture cache memory buffering system up to 240fps in full HD to 960fps at a much lower resolution. The option is there to either record pre- or post- press of the record button. The length of slow mo shot varies depending on the resolution used but can also be set internally within a range. At 960fps the picture isn’t particularly useable but 400fps isn’t bad depending on what the pictures are used for.

Viewfinder and Monitor
The viewfinder and top monitor are a great improvement on the poor quality, Heath Robinson elastic banded FS700. The viewfinder works well with a clear picture and a swivel arm. The top monitor provides excellent pictures and, with a hood, is more than useable in daylight conditions. Both have switchable peaking, zebras and display. There is also the ability to add an external viewfinder, if wanted, such as a Zacuto.

Face Recognition

Face recognition is a very useful feature on the FS5 and is similar to that found on the A7S II camera, although in lowlight it does struggle and can be slow to react. With care, it works well.

Additional Features
The FS5 has two easy-to-connect audio XLR inputs. Sound can be controlled and monitored fairly simply. The auto functions on the camera are actually fairly good, with full, iris and focus buttons that respond if needed.

It operates reasonably well in lowlight although in no way competing with the A7S. For a little extra, it comes with the E mounted 18-105mm F4 zoom, which is light, covers the length needed and is a handy lens for simple jobs. Sticking to Sony-friendly lenses is probably a better choice, although it will take all the standard L series Canon zoom lenses with an EF adaptor.

The FS5 is a great little camera. For those run and gun shoots when you need to grab a camera in a hurry, where you don’t want to haul around a beast and a heavy tripod, it’s a fantastic choice.

For me this camera is better as a second camera than, say, an A7S or similar. Although these cameras are useful, particularly in low light, the FS5 has many advantages – it can be set up in no time, it has buttons where you need them and it is built for filming.

It has its flaws and, as an F5 owner, I wouldn’t use it on more complex commercial jobs where you need to shoot in proper 4K. However, it’s a well-designed, welcome addition to Sony’s long list of cameras.

Posted 20 May 2016 by Jake Bickerton

A Showcase of Retro Virtual Reality

With all the talk of Virtual Reality (VR) being the next big thing this year, I thought I’d take a look at some of the previous attempts at VR, mostly from the 90s, when VR was very definitely going to be the next big thing. No doubt about it. Let's hope the current generation of VR devices stick around a little longer than last time.

First off is a highly entertaining feature on VR from ABC News, from back in 1991

Next up is Nintendo’s Virtual Boy, from 1995. Nintendo apparently spent millions promoting this little beauty before shelving it less than a year after its launch.

This is a great looking VR arcade system installed at London’s Trocadero Centre in the early 90s. It’s Virtuality’s VR Heavy Metal Game. Nice compact headset!

Here’s a system called ProVision Virtual Reality, which looks very futuristic and high tech. The demo reel features a pretty creepy sounding voiceover too.

Virtual IO I-Glasses actually look quite dinky compared to the other VR headsets available at the time

And here are some really early experiments in VR, from way, way back in the 1980s. These are very cool.

Posted 22 March 2016 by Jake Bickerton

REVIEW: Stupid Raisons Story Pop 2

Noise Industries/FX Factory has released an extensive update to its handy Stupid Raisons Story Pop collection of animated and customisable Final Cut Pro X whiteboard style drawings, adding hundreds of new characters and objects to the collection. It now offers more than 680 drawings to use in your projects.

Story Pop was designed and created by Stupid Raisons' Dylan Higginbotham to enable the creation of whiteboard drawings, without requiring you to have the ability to draw yourself. It provides a plethora of people, animals, objects, symbols, text styles, buildings and more to make it possible to quickly build up a customised whiteboard style story.

You can control the size, location, colour and animation style of how the drawing appears on screen – drawn by hand, popped onto the screen by hand, fade in or no animation at all. Furthermore, each person can be animated with 10 different emotions (angry, confused, happy, sad, etc).

I gave it a go. But I didn’t use it to create a whiteboard style drawing, I used the little characters to create a DIY music video for a tune I’d recently put together. Ok, so this may not be what Higginbotham had in mind when he devised Story Pop, but I had fun using his expertly drawn creations in my little film – making the spaceman fly into space, putting his little cars on a real road and getting all kaleidoscopic with his dollar signs.

Getting what you want from Story Pop is remarkably straightforward in Final Cut Pro X. You just drag and drop the Story Pop template from the Text elements section of Final Cut Pro X onto your timeline. Then you can choose the specific drawing you’re after from that template and select the different options in the settings box in the right hand corner of Final Cut Pro X. You can place the character anywhere you like on screen and it’s possible to choose the gender and ethnicity of the hand that draws the character. And, of course, all the usual FCP X options are available to play with – so you can animate the Story Pop characters using keyframes and changing the X and Y positioning, scale and so on.

The little pop promo I made using Story Pop

I went to town with Story Pop in my modest little music video – it’s lots of fun and a great tool to have in your arsenal. I should say, other whiteboard drawing collections are available from other software makers, and I haven’t tried any of these out, but if you want to make a conventional whiteboard video, I’m sure Story Pop would be ideal. It enables you to add your own drawings to the collection too, so you can expand the drawings collection yourself. You can of course also add drawing or pop sound effects for when each character appears on screen if you so wish.

Story Pop costs US$99 (around £65) and a free trial is also available here.

A short Introduction to Story Pop

Quick Story Pop Tutorial

Adding your own custom pictures

Posted 02 September 2015 by Jake Bickerton

REVIEW: G-Technology G-Drive ev ATC with Thunderbolt

A few months ago, G-Technology brought out a new variation of its G-Drive ev drive in the form of the snappily titled G-Drive ev ATC with Thunderbolt. It was kind enough to send Televisual one for review. Having used the 1TB drive pretty extensively on a recent corporate film project, it definitely gets the thumbs up from me.

The G-Drive ev ATC with Thunderbolt is basically one of G-Drive’s lightweight portable G-Drive ev RaW drives (the black drive below) in a cleverly designed ruggedised outer shell. A little clasp in the casing flips the lid open, enabling you to take the drive in and out.

The G-Drive ev RaW drive can be used with or without the G-Drive ev ATC with Thunderbolt casing. Without the casing, it’s a USB3 device, but once it’s been slotted into place inside the casing it becomes a Thunderbolt drive. This is a similar principal to how G-Technology’s desktop docking station, the G-Dock ev, works, but this time in a portable, rugged form factor.

A Thunderbolt cable is even conveniently built in and slotted neatly along the outer shell of the G-Drive ev ATC with Thunderbolt. It’s quite a short cable – but it’s a really neat solution and even includes a little plastic blue cap to protect the end of the Thunderbolt plug. A USB 3.0 cable is also handily included for using the G-Drive ev RaW drive without the ruggedised casing.

As a standalone drive, the G-Drive ev RaW is quite a bit lighter than G-Technology’s very similar looking G-Drive ev drive (around 35% lighter, according to G-Technology), so even housed in the ruggedised casing, the whole thing is still pretty lightweight.

The casing feels solid, durable and well made, and is certainly very rugged. It’s watertight and protects from pressure, shock and dust. G-Technology says it survives a two metre drop onto a carpeted concrete floor and floats in water and can be dropped into a pool of water from a height of 1ft for 30 seconds while remaining protected.

The RRP for the 1TB G-Drive ev ATC with Thunderbolt ruggedised unit and drive is US$229.95 (around £150). As I said at the start, it gets a thumbs up from me. If you’re after a drive you can take on any shoot, whatever the weather or shooting conditions, it’s a perfect fit.

Posted 23 July 2015 by Jake Bickerton

Volcano eruption captured in 8K

It pays to be in the right place at the right time. This time-lapse footage of southern Chile’s Volcano Calbuco erupting back in April really captures the power and visual spectacle of the eruption. It was first time the volcano had erupted in four decades.

The film of the eruption was shot by Martin Heck from Timestorm Films, who says: “We spend the prior couple of days on the neighbouring volcano Osorno (around 20km away) shooting time-lapses. [Then we] headed south to catch the ferry down to Patagonia. After 10min on the ferry we noticed a massive, almost nuclear looking cloud boiling upwards just were we left a few hours ago.”

“Frenetically looking for a good outlook we then rushed to the only non-forested place to get a decent view of the show. We quickly put every bit of camera-equipment we could find on the constantly growing mushroom-cloud. We shot time-lapses in 8K and 4K with a Pentax 645Z and Canon 6D. On the Sony A7s we shot 4K video to the Shogun. We filled almost all of our memory cards in the prior night so I had to do backups while shooting all this stuff.”

Posted 19 June 2015 by Jake Bickerton

Incredible $519 throw-and-shoot drone

This is almost too good to be true. It’s called the Lily Camera and is a small automated drone with a built in camera that tracks you as it flies - you just throw it up and it hovers at a pre-determined height, either following you, leading the way or circling the subject below.

It films at 1080p 60fps and is waterproof too, so, while capturing images of watersports, for example, you can just throw it into the water and it’ll take off from there. You, or whatever subject you’re capturing, wear a small tracking device - you can wear this on your wrist - and the Lily Camera automatically keeps track of you as it hovers around.

It’s very small so can be easily carried around and it’s been stylishly designed so looks cool too.

There are limitations to the Lily Camera - it can’t detect objects for example, so you have to be a bit wary where you take it out if you want to keep it in one piece. The developer’s website lists a series of FAQs that cover all the basics such as recharging time, its various operating modes, how to order it, etc.

The Lily Camera is an absolute bargain too at only $519 (if you pre-order now). It will be available early next year. <Drum roll, please> One thing's for sure - it's going to fly off the shelves!

Posted 15 May 2015 by Jake Bickerton
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