Author Archive: RollingShutter

RØDE VIDEOMIC Pro Review

For quite a while now, we’ve been using the original VideoMic and have sung its praises to whomever may be listening. It transformed the sound recording capabilities of our Canon DSLRs, turning them into well-rounded workhorses. So it was with open arms (and minds) that we welcomed the news that RØDE had released a ‘pro’ version.

A couple of weeks ago we were sent a VideoMic Pro (VMP) to demo and we’ve been putting it through its paces in some real-world scenarios which would test it to the extreme, curious to see how it compares with its older sibling, and it’s fair to say that we haven’t been disappointed!

The most obvious change from the original VideoMic is the change in scale. The VideoMic was a beast which sat upon an elasticised cradle of near-gothic proportions in order to provide necessary cushioning to limit noise created by camera movement. Add to this the stature of the shotgun and it was quite imposing (and sometimes difficult to manage in cramped situations).

The VMP addressed this head-on and is a fraction of the size whilst retaining all of the presence.

RØDE have managed to reduce the footprint, whilst incorporating a significant increase in the quality of the mic and its electronics. The overall reduction in size and the newly designed anti-shock cradle conspire to make the new unit somewhat less likely to take someone’s eye out.

Regarding its technical performance, the new mic is simply outstanding. Noise (which was almost non-existent in the VideoMic) is further reduced and the sound dynamics are, well they’re of broadcast quality. This step-up in quality can be heard in these clips below.

Interview recorded with original VideoMic

Similar interview, this time recorded on the VMP

The whole unit feels more robust, its features are more readily accessible and the new cable is a lot easier to live with than the original curly-lead since it fits more snugly around the camera en-route to the ext. microphone input.

Like its predecessor, the VMP sits on a ‘cold shoe’ flash mount for ease of attaching to a DSLR camera body. Drilled inside this fitting is a screw-thread so the VMP can be attached to a RØDE boompole for off-camera use, when you need to really fine-tine the sound control (we’ll try to review one of these in use at a later date).

A very welcome addition to this product offering comes when purchasers of the VMP register for RØDE’s 10 year extended warranty in the form of a free ‘Deadcat’ windjammer.

The only drawback we’ve noticed is that the elastics which make up the anti-shock cradle are somewhat more prone to dislodging when bringing the VMP out of the kit bag. This wasn’t an issue on the VideoMic and whilst it’s certainly no reason to mark the VMP’s review score down, it’s worth pointing out. After all, we had to find something negative to say!

Rating
Ease of use: 5/5
Build quality: 5/5
Functionality: 5/5
Sex appeal: 5/5
Value for money: 5/5

The original VideoMic is a good deal cheaper and is a fantastic mic for general use, therefore it may be more appealing to the ‘enthusiast’ market but if you’re serious about your sound quality, it’s well worth stepping-up to the VMP.

Overall rating:

5/5 – Highly recommended.



RØDE University lands on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch!

RØDE Microphones is extremely excited to announce the release of its RØDE University audio education course for the Apple iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. This free app includes all the video content from both the musical and broadcast syllabus from RØDE’s award winning website, rodeuniversity.com.

First launched in 2008, RØDE University guides viewers through the basics of recording audio via short, entertaining videos, followed by multiple choice questions to reinforce the key points of the lesson.

The instrument recording course covers various ways to record a typical band including vocals, drums, guitars and bass. Across the 28 video segments users will learn key audio fundamentals, as well as discover a range of ways to mic instruments and vocals, with the pros and cons of each technique explained and discussed. Filmed in the world renowned Studio 301 and featuring rock band “Hell City Glamours” this course will definitely rock your pocket!

Veteran sound designer and best-selling author Ric Viers takes the helm in the broadcast recording course, guiding viewers through a wide range of topics including location recording, ENG, voice-over and ADR, podcasting, DLSR on-camera miking, foley and sound effect recording.

After installing the app, users can browse the available courses and individual videos and download those that they are interested in to their Apple device. A one-touch trash function makes it easy to manage the videos stored on your iPhone and iPad.

Users also have the opportunity to share segments that they find particularly insightful or entertaining via Facebook, Twitter or email.

“The iPhone and iPad are perfect platforms for RØDE University.” commented Damien Wilson, Global Marketing Director for RØDE Microphones “From the very beginning we designed RØDE Uni to fit in with the lifestyle of our users by ensuring all the content was to-the-point and entertaining. Now the added convenience of being able to watch anywhere at any time, even without a data connection makes it really easy and simple to get your audio knowledge up-to-speed while on the train, waiting for a bus, or between classes”.

The RØDE University app is available as a free download now through the App Store, or can be downloaded by visiting www.rodeuniversity.com/iphone
Visit RØDE University online at www.rodeuniversity.com

EOS 600d unveiled

United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, 7th February 2011 – Canon today announces the launch of the EOS 600D – a compact, lightweight Digital SLR (DSLR) that makes capturing exciting, fun and creative images easier than ever. The perfect choice for aspiring photographers looking for a combination of outstanding image quality and ease-of-use, the EOS 600D sits at the top of Canon’s entry-level EOS line-up, above the existing EOS 550D and the new EOS 1100D.First-class image quality
The EOS 600D provides all the tools to capture beautiful stills and HD movies. Amazing picture detail is provided by a high-resolution 18 Megapixel (MP) APS-C CMOS sensor, which combines with 14-bit DIGIC 4 processing so you can capture the wonder of a beautiful blue sky and enjoy exceptionally smooth gradients between colours. The camera’s low light shooting capability enables you to achieve clear, natural images in darker conditions, with an ISO range of 100-6400 that can be further expanded to 12800.

Great for shooting pets, children or wildlife, the EOS 600D allows high-speed shooting at 3.7 frames per second (fps), enabling you to capture fast-moving action. Each shot will be captured in sharp detail thanks to the 9-point Auto Focus system, which can track subjects using the auto focus points across the frame. Even more accurate focusing is providing by an extra-sensitive central AF Sensor, while the iFCL Metering system from the semi-professional EOS 7D features a 63-zone Dual-layer metering sensor, helping you to ensure your shot is correctly exposed, even in difficult lighting conditions.

Easy shooting, amazing results
New fully-automatic Scene Intelligent Auto mode makes it easy for you to capture outstanding quality shots with almost no effort. Allowing you to focus exclusively on framing your picture, Scene Intelligent Auto analyses the scene for you and automatically picks the best settings to capture it. Your images will look better than ever thanks to a new ‘Auto’ Picture Style, which automatically makes fine adjustments to colours while you focus on capturing the scene you want.

The EOS 600D also makes it easy for you to instantly add creativity to your pictures. Change the atmosphere of a scene with Basic+, which allows you to pick the mood you want to achieve from one of eight options, including ‘Warm’, ‘Cool’ or ‘Intense’. Whether you’re shooting landscapes, portraits, or close-up macro shots, Basic+ makes it easy to capture the perfect image.

Simple, flexible, artistic
Ideal for beginners, a Feature Guide has been added to the EOS 600D’s menu system, offering a brief description of each key setting and its effect, helping you learn more about the camera as you use it.

You can also shoot overhead, at ground level or around corners with the EOS 600D’s Vari-angle 7.7cm 3:2 ratio ClearView LCD. Rich on-screen detail is provided in 1.04 million-dot resolution, and the side-mounted hinge allows users to comfortably and creatively shoot from a range of unusual angles, or when using a tripod. A smudge-resistant fluorine coating and three anti-reflection coatings also ensure you can see the LCD in clear detail, wherever you are.

Allowing you to apply your own stamp to your shots, the EOS 600D is perfect for experimenting with different Creative Filters. Fish-eye-Effect creates a barrel-shaped distortion similar to a fish-eye lens, and you can instantly turn a scene into a small-scale model with Miniature Effect. Toy Camera Effect, Grainy B/W and Soft Focus offer additional options, allowing you to experiment with your images in a number of different ways.

Capture stunning detail with EOS movie
Capture your memories in superb clarity with Full HD (1080p) movie mode, while a dedicated movie shooting mode means you can switch between stills and HD video instantly. You can also reach distant subjects using new Movie Digital Zoom function, which crops the centre of the sensor from 3x to 10x while still maintaining Full HD quality – great for capturing wildlife on a safari holiday.

Enabling you to capture more engaging videos, Video Snapshot mode shoots video in two, four, or eight second segments, creating clips that are short, easy to edit and of similar lengths to clips used in most TV programmes. As they are recorded, the clips are saved to a Video Snapshot Album and combined into one movie. A soundtrack can be added by choosing from tracks uploaded to the camera and the result viewed on the camera’s LCD, or on an HDTV via the built-in mini HDMI connection.

The EOS system – unrestricted creativity
As your skills develop, the EOS 600D grows with you. As part of Canon’s EOS range, the camera is compatible with the unrivalled selection of EF lenses and a range of accessories, so you can add to your kitbag as your ability and style develops. Over 60 lenses provide you with unlimited creative possibilities: wide-angle lenses capture sweeping landscapes, macro lenses capture the most intricate beauty of the tiniest creatures, and telephoto lenses make distant scenes appear as if they are right in front of you.

Using Canon’s range of Speedlite flashes and the EOS 600D’s Integrated Speedlite Transmitter, you can also experiment with different lighting techniques, or use your flash off-camera, to give your subject or scene a completely different look and feel. With the Easy Wireless function, the camera will also take care of the complicated settings whilst you focus on framing and lighting your scene as you wish.

Introducing the new EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II
Launching with the EOS 600D is the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II – a new kit lens that provides excellent performance for beginners. A lightweight construction makes it easy to carry, and Canon’s acclaimed optical Image Stabilization also minimises the risk of blur, allowing photographers to use shutter speeds 4 stops slower while still maintaining a blur-free shot. The EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II will succeed the existing EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS in Canon’s lens line-up.

EOS 600D – key features:

* 18-megapixel CMOS sensor
* Scene Intelligent Auto mode
* Full-HD EOS Movie
* On-screen Feature Guide
* 3.7fps continuous shooting
* Wide-area 9-point AF
* 1,040k-dot vari-angle 7.7cm (3.0”) screen
* Basic+ and Creative Filters
* Built-in wireless flash control

Pricing and Availability

* The EOS 600D (body only) is available from early April 2011, priced at £679.00/€819.00 RRP incl. VAT.
* The EOS 600D EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II is available from early April 2011, priced at £769.00/€929.00 RRP incl. VAT.
* The EOS 600D EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS is available from early April 2011, priced at £949.00/€1,149.00 RRP incl. VAT.

Sekonic L-308DC Digi Cine Mate – The DSLR Filmmaker’s choice

Sekonic recently released their new L-308DC Digi Cine Mate light meter which conforms not only to the needs of Photographers as one would expect from this legendary light meter manufacturer but the new offering also caters for filmmakers working with HDSLR cameras.

The delightfully compact light meter offers “Three ways to meter”

HD Cine Mode: Perfect for today’s DSLR videographers.
Make exposure readings and control light using shutter speeds and frame rates and get aperture settings with one-tenth stop accuracy.

Cine Mode: Designed for digital cinematography. Select from the most useful frame rates and shutter angles for exposure control with one-tenth stop accuracy. Lux and foot-candle readout enables quick set up of lights.

Photo Mode: Full control for traditional still-image photographers. Shutter-priority display of a full range of ambient and flash functions including Cord and Cordless flash measurement as well as ambient EV measurement.

The unit also offers “Three ways to measure light”
The Lumisphere provides incident light readings for nearly foolproof exposure readings and enables lighting that scene before the talent arrives.

The Lumidisc is perfect for lighting green screens, adjusting ratios and taking lux and foot-candle measurements.

Reflected light readings enable measuring the brightness of subject tones, gray cards, light sources or window light.

Adtionally, the L-308DC Digi Cine Mate allows for Calibration Compensation, whereby the device can be adjusted to film or digital camera sensors or matching the unit to other handheld meters.

Three Custom Settings tune meter operations and displays to fit your camera and metering requirements.

and its new Illuminance Measurement system measures Lux (lx) and foot-candle (fc) modes, which are especially useful for cinematography which requires precise control of light source brightness.

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.

Awesome!

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.” – focus-on-imaging.co.uk

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

RØDE Launches VIDEOMIC Pro

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)

http://rodemic.com/microphone.php?product=videomicpro

X-iting news from Handy FILMTOOLS

Today, Handy FILMTOOLS released a teaser trailer showcasing their new BaseX

It looks fantastic and we’d love to get our hands on one to try out and review!