Monthly Archives: January 2011

Turn a compressor preset into a droplet

When faced with the arduous (and often repetitive) task of compressing your video files for review or distribution, setting up compressor can become time consuming. This is especially true when you’re working with a large volume of files.

The easiest way to achieve this is to turn your favourite setting(s) into “Droplets”. These are small ‘applications’ which sit on your desktop (or wherever you want to store them) and tell Compressor what compression settings you require. You can then drag and drop your original onto the Droplet and it will re-compress in the background.

Here’s how to make your own:

Open Compressor and head down to the ‘Settings’ tab.

Select (highlight) the setting that you want to turn into a droplet and click the “Save Selection as Droplet” button (see below).

In the ‘Save as’ dialogue, specify a name for your droplet, a location to save your droplet and a location for the files it outputs after compressing.

A new icon will appear in the specified location. This is your new Droplet.

Once it’s saved, drag and drop an original video file onto the droplet and let go. A dialogue will inform you it’s setting up and allow you to make last minute changes (if required). If not, just just click submit and it will run as a background task.

DIY DSLR Rig – Project complete, for now at least!

After taking a month or so off, we’ve come back at full steam and the DIY DSLR Rig project is now concluded and we’re proud to introduce the Run and Gun variant of our rig:

This setup is primarily designed to be shoulder-slung for mobile shooting. The camera is offset to place the LCDVF in front of the operator’s right eye and the rail plate incorporates a handle for the right hand. Microphone has been offset to the right, freeing up the camera’s hotshoe for a video light if required).

The camera is attached to a tripod quick release plate enabling rapid tripod mounting for static shots.

This setup can be easily broken down and the matte box locked onto the rails for a studio-friendly setup and in this configuration the microphone will usually sit atop the camera although it can still be side mounted if need be.

All of the components barring the extension plate (below) were made by myself from bits and bobs either lying around or purchased for the purpose.

The rails were bought as a 2m length of tubular steel and cut to size, the camera plate was made from several pieces of light-gauge steel lying in my odds and sods box and the shoulder rest was cut from a tin of Cadbury’s Roses, padded with medium density foam and held together with pop-rivets, gaffer’s tape and a carriage bolt (for stability).

The matte box was made much earlier in the project and was again made from scratch. The box is a plastic food container with a strip of aluminium riveted to the back to halt stray light.

The french-flag and barn doors were fabricated from aluminium plate (gas fire backing plate) and pop-rivets, bolted to the box with carriage bolts and butterfly wings. At some point I’d like to replace these with thumb wheels, purely for aesthetic reasons).

The lower section of the unit has a removable riser allowing the camera to be used on the rig with or without the battery grip. The box sits on the front of the rail system, in line with the camera in configuraion #1 – Studio setup and prevents stray studio light from entering the lens. It doesn’t (yet) facilitate the use of filters but this is something I may look at in version 2.

It’s been a fun project and all in it’s cost a grand total of *drum roll…..* £32 (that’s about $50).

Compared with a purchased equivalent, we estimate a saving of something like £900 ($1,400) – £1600 ($2,500) depending on the supplier.


Magic Lantern for EOS 550d

The guys at ML have outdone themselves this time. The 550d code has undergone yet another review this month and is looking better than ever. It now features the following enhancements:

* GUI menus: press the ERASE button to display them, SET/DISP to change values
* Bit rate control (QScale parameter) for the H.264 encoder
* Zebra stripes for overexposed / underexposed areas
* Spotmeter, histogram
* Cropmarks (16:9, Cinemascope, Fisheye)
* Intervalometer (classic or HDR)
* Trap Focus: camera takes a picture when something comes in focus
* Remote release with either the LCD face sensor or audio trigger
* Rack focus
* Stack focus (Live View only)
* Lens data computation
* Onscreen audio meters
* Manual audio gain, selectable input source, disable AGC and digital filters
* Display time remaining during video recording
* Debug functions (display CMOS temperature, screenshot, logging)
* Fine tuning for ISO and shutter speeds; also ISO 25600
* Kelvin white balance
* Clean LiveView display without any overlays (selectable)
* On-demand auto tuning for ISO, shutter & kelvin white balance
* Quick access to some useful settings like HTP, ALO and contrast

We’ve been using the new build for a few days now and not only is it more stable than ever, the new feature set transforms a sub £800 camera into a behemoth which still makes me giggle every time I switch it on!

For more information and to download the code, visit the Magic Lantern Wiki

Focus on Imaging 2011 – Pre register now

Running from 6 – 9 MARCH 2011 at the BIRMINGHAM NEC, Focus on Imaging is the event of the year for professional photographers and enthusiastic amateurs alike.

FOCUS ON IMAGING is Europe’s biggest annual imaging show, covering all your needs from image capture through to output and beyond. Whether you are a professional image maker or processor, a buyer of image making equipment or materials, a manufacturer or distributor of products or a keen hobbyist, a visit to FOCUS ON IMAGING is a must.” –

Register for your badge at the official website. Entry is free for imaging professionals (trade) and £8 for non trade when pre-registered. Alternatively it’s possible to pay on the door at the higher rate of £10. Either way, you are supplied with a badge which allows admission on one or all of the four day event.

Doors are open from 10am – 6pm Sunday, Monday & Tuesday. 10am – 5pm Wednesday


Following hot on the heels of its incredibly successful VIDEOMIC, RØDE Microphones have this week launched the much anticipated Rode VideoMic Pro Compact Shotgun Microphone which boasts a more compact footprint than its predecessor, with the anti-shock mechanism now integrated into the unit.

The unit comprises a forward facing Compact Shotgun Microphone, with a very similar frequency response to the original VIDEOMIC but with upgraded shenanigans so it sounds a lot better.

One major (and by some, very welcome) change is its reduced overall length due to the anti-shock integration. Although I’m a massive fan of the original, it was prone to wobble somewhat and the new design directly addresses this matter head-on by incorporating the operating electronics into a rear-mounted body which now sits neatly behind the camera hot-shoe.

It’s a very compact design and a very sexy one at that, but it does lack some of the ‘presence’ of the original’s exo-skeletal structure. It also comes with a much more elegant cable solution (not that we really objected to the original coil-spring design).

We’ll be getting our hands on one in a few weeks to review but in the meantime, here’s a link to the product page on their Flash-heavy site (smartphone users beware)