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Basic Audio Package for the GH2

I bought my audio equipment based on research I had done on websites like cheesycam and Philip Blooms blog as well as RODE workshops I have attended. There are equivalent options to my recommendations but I’m only going to mention the items I own. All the following links, pictures etc will take you to Amazon.com. If you buy the item by following the link you don’t pay more for the item but I get 2% of the sale price. I figured if you buy a Zoom because you read my post why shouldn’t Amazon pay me $5.20. So, apologies for the pictures also being ads but if you follow the links you will also find loads of reviews written by people who have bought the items… some of them are quite entertaining

I knew recording audio with the GH2 was not going to be good enough for every situation. It might be good enough for ambience or in an emergency but if I wanted to capture clear voices I would need a separate audio recorder. I started off buying the Zoom H4N a four track digital audio recorder with built in stereo microphones. It records to SD cards same as the GH2 so I don’t have to carry two types of recording media. The quality of the recording is mind blowing! The last time I recorded my voice was in the 80s with a tape deck. Anyone who has done that will wonder at the wizardry that must be inside the Zoom to make the spoken word sound so good. I even use this at client meetings so I have a hard copy of everything said.


I attended the Rode/Philip Bloom workshops and had a look at the (then) new Rode VideoMic Pro it’s small form factor and recommendation by Philip Bloom sold me on it. It works great and looks pro especially with a Rode DeadCat

on it. It comes with a 10 year warranty and mine came with the dead cat (wind muff) for free. The wind muff muffles the wind (funny that) - a must when shooting outdoors or in one of the windy fart camps that are popular these days.

I also bought a Rode Micro Boom Pole

and a Rode Extension Cable

. I’ve not used either of these. I bought the boom to use the VideoMic Pro in narrative films because at the time I thought you needed a dedicated sound guy for that. If you live in NSW Australia and want to collaborate please contact me.

Interviews are also a good place to use the Rode on a boom pole with a dedicated boom swinger (operator). I’ve always used lav mics in interviews because getting the microphone very close to the mouth makes it easier to get clean audio with less background noise. I read a Cheesycam post that recommended the Audio Technica Lav mic and for $22 how can you go wrong?

I also bought assorted connectors a 3.5 to 2.5mm stereo right angle connector to convert the GH2s 2.5mm headphone jack to the more common 3.5mm. I had to trim the plastic around the 2.5mm end with a knife to plug it into the GH2 so make sure you have a little length to play with just in case. Three 3.5mm to 1/4” mono jacks to plug the lav mics and Rode into the Zoom. I also bought a short 3.5mm male to male lead to go from the headphone jack of the Zoom to Headphone/Microphone jack of the GH2.

Plugging the output of the Zoom into the GH2 helps when you sync the audio from the Zoom H4N to the footage you have shot with GH2 because the audio wave forms will look the similar. There is also software called Plural Eyes that can do the sync automatically.

I have a RedrockMicro rig that I use to mount them together for portability. The Zoom has a standard 1/4 inch mounting hole and Redrock make a small adapter that connects to a 15mm rod.  I put the Rode on the GH2 flash bracket. The camera, camera mount and rods can attach to my Tripod, Monopod or shoulder rig via Arca Swiss mounting plates and quick releases.

  

I have wired people for sound with the lav mic and just popped the Zoom H4N in their pocket but its a little big for that. So I ended up buying a zoom H1 as well. Its only a single track recorder so your a bit more limited than with it’s big brother but it’s just incredibly handy.  I have started taking it everywhere if I’m on a train and I like the ambient sounds I will grab a couple of minutes of audio. You can put it on the end of a boom pole or plug a lav mic into it and put it in someones pocket; it’s very light. The next step might be wireless mics so you can monitor the audio levels while recording but you want to spend $500-$600 on wireless so they really are a big step up.

Blackmagic Cinema Camera

Well this is interesting, who would of thought we would have not one but two affordable Raw cameras in 2012. Over at the Digital Bolex HQ comparisons are already being made. One of the kickstarter supporters Nikita Pavlov has already put a direct comparison chart on his blog I have pasted the same relevant stats below. The cameras are quite comparable, with a slightly bigger sensor on the Blackmagic and a wonderful looking touch screen. There are similarities between them CinemaDNG, a removable SSD and a SDI out. The Digital bolex has a SSD and SDI (in a separate unit) but they decided against a removable SSD because it’s not designed for frequent removal. The SDI is supposed to arrive on the Bolex via an add on $3000 unit, I’m not sure what effect the news of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera will have on this.
The Bolex comes with a mini HDMI port, WiFi and USB3.0 and Raw conversion software in the pipeline. The Blackmagic Cinema Camera comes with some wicked software Ultrascope and Davinchi Resolve as well as a Thunderbolt connection for live waveform monitoring with Ultrascope. As you can see the cameras are just begging for a head to head test, we just need them to be released.
The Blackmagic seems to be aimed towards Mac users and admittedly has an ace up it’s sleeve. The ability to compress the footage in camera to Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD. This is fantastic addition and I wish the Digital Bolex could do this but I understand why it can’t at it’s current price point. On a final note Blackmagic have gone with a slightly bigger sized sensor than Super 16. So Cinema glass designed for super 16 like my Zeiss Super Speeds will not fully cover the sensor of Blackmagics Cinema Camera.

Digital Bolex Specs

Resolution 2048 x 1152 (Super 16mm mode) + 1920 x 1080 pixels (16mm mode)
Format Adobe Cinema DNG, TIFF, JPEG Image sequences
Colour depth 12 bit – 4:4:2
File size 2 to 3 MB per frame in RAW
Sensor Kodak CCD: 12.85 mm (H) x 9.64 mm (V) – Similar to Super 16mm
Pixel Size 5.5 micron (compared to the 4.3 micron size of many DSLRs)
Framerate up to 32 fps at 2K, 60fps at 720p, 90 fps at 480p
Sound Balanced, 2 channel, 16 bit, 48 kHz via XLR
Viewfinder 320×240, 2.4” diagonal, with Focus Assist
Video out 640 x 480 B&W via ⅛” video jack (HD-SDI avail in separate unit)
Ports ⅛” video, headphone, USB 3.0, Audio XLR (2), 4-PIN XLR
Data Storage Dual SD card slots, SSD (buffer drive)
Power Internal battery, 12V External via 4 pin XLR port
Body Magnesium and hard plastic
Size (body) Approximately 12.7cm H (without pistol grip) by 10.2cm W by 20.3cm D
Size (grip) 12.7cm H by 5cm W by 12.7cm D
Lens mount C-mount comes standard; Optional PL, EF, B4
Weight 2.5kg
ISO Options 100, 200, 400
Also in the box pistol grip, USB 3.0 cable, internal battery, 4 pin XLR Battery, cable, video cable, transcoder/raw conversion software
—-

Blackmagic Cinema Camera Tech Specs

Sensor Resolution 2592 x 2192
Raw Resolution 12-bit RAW files recorded at 2432 x 1366
Shooting Resolutions 2.5K RAW at 2432 x 1366, compressed at 1920 x 1080
Frame Rates 23.98p, 24p, 25p, 29.97p, 30p
Sensor Size 16.64 mm x 14.04 mm
Sensor Size - Active 15.6 mm x 8.8 mm
Dynamic Range 13 stops
Focus Focus button turns on peaking
Iris Control Iris button automatically adjusts the lens iris settings so no pixel is clipped
Lens Mount EF and ZF mount compatible with electronic iris control
Screen Dimensions 5” and 800 x 480 resolution
Screen Type Integrated LCD capacitive touchscreen
Metadata Support Automatic camera data and user data such as shot number, filenames and keywords
Controls Onscreen touch menus and physical buttons for recording and transport control
Microphone Integrated mono microphone
Speaker Integrated mono speaker
Mounting Options 3 x 1/4” thread mounting points on top of camera.
1 x 1/4” thread tripod mount with locator pin.
Power Integrated Lithium-ion Polymer rechargeable battery.
12V-30V DC port for external battery power or use included 12V AC adapter.
Battery Life Approximately 90 minutes
Battery Charge Time Approximately 2 hours when not in use.
Camera Dimensions 166.2mm by 113.51mm x 126.49mm excluding detachable sunshade and turret dust cap
Camera Weight 1.7 kg / 3.75 lb
Storage Features
Storage Type Removable 2.5” SSD
Storage Format Mac OS Extended format. SSDs can be formatted on any Mac or use Mediafour MacDrive (not included) on a Windows PC.
Storage Rates 5 MB/frame in RAW 2.5K fits about 30 minutes of 24p video on a 256 GB solid state disk. Compressed HD formats fit more than 5 times the amount of RAW video.
Uncompressed Recording Formats RAW 2.5K CinemaDNG
Compressed Recording Formats Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD. All compressed recording in 1920x1080 10-bit YUV with choice of Film or Video Dynamic Range.
Connections
SDI Video Output 1 x 10-bit HD-SDI 4:2:2 with choice of Film or Video Dynamic Range
Analog Audio Input 2 x 1/4” jacks for professional balanced analog audio, switchable between mic and line levels.
Analog Audio Output 1 x 3.5mm stereo headphone output
SDI Audio Output 4 channels in HD-SDI
Remote Control 1 x 2.5mm LANC for Rec Start/Stop, Iris Control and Focus Control
Computer Interface Thunderbolt port for capture of RAW video and audio.
USB 2.0 mini B port for software updates and configuration.
External Power 12V-30V DC port for external battery power or use included 12V AC adapter.
Standards
SDI Compliance SMPTE 292M.
SDI Audio Sampling 48 kHz and 24 bit.
Extras
Software Included DaVinci Resolve grading software including Resolve USB dongle for Mac OS X and Windows.
Media Express software for video capture from the camera’s Thunderbolt port.
Blackmagic UltraScope software for waveform monitoring from the camera’s Thunderbolt port.
Accessories Detachable sun shield, camera strap, turret dust cap and 12V AC adapter.
Product Warranty 12 Month Limited Manufacturer’s Warranty.
Optional Accessories
Camera Handles Blackmagic Cinema Camera Handles

The Digital Bolex: A Super 16 Digital Cinema Camera

Update: Here is a link to their new forum http://www.digitalbolex.com/forum/ The most up to date info can be found there.

This affordable camera news came to me through Philip Blooms blog. Actually it came thorough Facebook like most of my news does now, I’m sure this doesn’t mean facebook will replace the news, just that I spend to much time on Facebook.

Philip has a review and a phone interview with the creators. I read his post checked out the kickstarter page and put my money down. I got camera number 000010 I’m investing in a company I want to see succeed but still a very scary proposition, send someone $2500 and hope they send you a camera.

Specs
Resolution 2048 x 1152 (Super 16mm mode) + 1920 x 1080 pixels (16mm mode)
Format Adobe Cinema DNG, TIFF, JPEG Image sequences
Colour depth 12 bit – 4:4:4
File size 2 to 3 MB per frame in RAW
Sensor Kodak CCD: 12.85 mm (H) x 9.64 mm (V) – Similar to Super 16mm
Pixel Size 5.5 micron (compared to the 4.3 micron size of many DSLRs)
Framerate up to 32 fps at 2K, 60fps at 720p, 90 fps at 480p
Sound Balanced, 2 channel, 16 bit, 48 kHz via XLR
Viewfinder 320×240, 2.4” diagonal, with Focus Assist
Video out 640 x 480 B&W via ⅛” video jack (HD-SDI avail in separate unit)
Ports ⅛” video, headphone, USB 3.0, Audio XLR (2), 4-PIN XLR
Data Storage Dual CF card slots, SSD (buffer drive)
Power Internal battery, 12V External via 4 pin XLR port
Body Milled steel and hard plastic
Size (body) Approximately 5”H (without pistol grip) by 4”W by 8”D
Size (grip) 5”H by 2”W by 5”D
Lens mount C-mount comes standard; Optional PL, EF, B4
Weight 5lbs
ISO Options 100, 200, 400
Also in the box pistol grip, USB 3.0 cable, internal battery, 4 pin XLR Battery, cable, video cable, transcoder/raw conversion software Lenses will be interesting proposition we can use old 16 and super 16mm film lenses Zeiss, Cooke, Angenieux and Switars although they are rare and expensive. I have read the shorter focal length Switars are RX corrected so anything under 50mm won’t suit the digital chip unless the creators allow for this (edit* Joe has mentioned he is aware of it and might be able to allow for this).
There are some aspect of this little cam I don’t like. The low resolution viewfinder and b/w monitor out. I think I can live with these for the opportunity to learn to not be so reliant on the viewfinder. I think I will shoot Adobe Cinema DNG, colour my footage in Lightroom and edit in Premiere CS5.5. At the moment I’m not totally sure about this Adobe workflow but there are work arounds. Transcoding to cineform is one. There is a vocal for and against spreading around the internet as people take sides. The “against” seem well informed so I will keep doing my research. If you watch the Behind the Scenes of “One Small Step” , the first film shoot on the digital bolex you can see a little camera. Its an industrial camera called a Prosilica GX2300 by GIGE vision usually used in security or medical imaging. It uses the same $350 sensor sensor the Digital Bolex uses which is why Joe and Elle used the Prosilica to shoot a film to show off the camera. The most exciting thing about this camera is the CCD sensor. It does not suffer the jello effect caused by rolling shutter that can be seen on CMOS sensors when you move to quickly. The lens choice for this little cam is also supurb the more I research I do the more excited I get. I’m still hoping to view some stock footage and confirm a workflow, when I find out I will post it here.

A quote from Barry Green a moderator over at DVXuser, who sums the camera in this analogy:

“Okay, you all knew it was coming, but it’s time for a car comparison. Think of the AF100 in terms of a car, it’s a, well, maybe it’s a Honda Civic LX. It’s comfortable, it’s smooth, it’s quick, it has power locks and power windows and air conditioning and a great stereo, and when you want to go somewhere you turn the key and go. By comparison, the DBolex is a 300HP engine on a go-kart frame. When you want to use it, you go blasting down the dragstrip, and then you spend the next week repairing everything that broke off it. (that’s the equivalent to all the post-production you’ll have to do on the raw images). In other words, the AF100 is the daily driver, and the DBolex is the weekend hobby. There’s definitely a place for both in a shooter’s arsenal, as long as they can afford both. That’s my take, anyway, and I do hope these guys can deliver what they set out to deliver.” This is an important thing to think about I have been shooting with a DSLRs where ISO, White balance everything is decided in camera. The chip inside the camera even shrinks the footage to a very manageable size through a codec. The Digital Bolex will be the opposite, broom broom. I received a reply to this post from Joe Rubinstein (one of the creators) “I especially like the car analogy, in fact I used a car analogy when explaining why we needed the partnership with Bolex International. My feeling though is this is not a speedy car, quite the opposite, I think it’s an electric VW Bug. It’s retro, it’s gonna be a hell of a lot of fun to drive, comes with no extras, and you’re gonna end up spending a bunch of time tinkering with it, because it’s fun! I loved 16mm film, it was cheap enough to play with but high enough quality to do some serious work, that’s what I want for this camera, to revive the sense of wonder and discovery I got from my Bolex. Thanks again, Joe” A current prototype and mock up, not much to look at unfortunately but it shows they are serious.

Good luck to Joe Rubinstein and Elle Schneider
Bayden Packwood

Picture someone really laid back, quite trendy with two huge tattoo’s on his forearms yet playing a banjo that’s Bayden Packwood. I knew this was was going to be a quirky shoot when we were filming in someone’s lounge room directly opposite Central Station. Thirteen classical musicians set up with no fuss and a minimum of order. The whole day went like that, we only had a couple of hours to shoot five videos for the album ‘Packwood’ and we got through them all with a minimum of fuss. I got goose pimples while filming my favourite the director did say he was after a lot of feeling in my shooting. All credit goes to Angelo Kehagias (Director/edit) and Bayden for his musical genius, all I did is hold the camera. The video are being released one a week so I can only share the first one here, enjoy.

Have GH2 will travel

I thought I would share my settings for shooting Video on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

. I start off by putting the dial on top of the camera on the video mode. Then I make sure the video exposure is on the manual setting.

Put the GH2’s creative mode on 24P for the highest quality video setting.

Record Quality on 24H

Now put your shutter on 1/50 for the most natural looking footage when filming motion. 1/50th has a slight blur to motion that looks more filmic. You can use a faster shutter 1/100+ but it will look less like film and more like video. Try and keep your ISO as low as possible just like when taking photos and you should also only use the native ISO’s (160 320 and 640). You can go higher of course but it really degrades the picture quality. In the Motion Picture menu choose Film Mode for the different picture profiles. My first picture profile is Vibrant with saturation +2. This is for when I’m feeling lazy and I’m not going to any color grading in post. You have to be very careful with the white balance. I usually do a custom white balance based on what I see in the LCD. It’s also the setting I use for still images.

If I am going to do color grading in post I put the Film Mode on smooth. I leave noise reduction on 0 and everything else on -2. It’s a big commitment because now I have to do a color grade in post. So I would only do this if I’m shooting a narrative piece or trying to get the most out of the image for artistic reasons. If I’m shooting casually or an event I leave it on my “lazy” vibrant setting.

With this setting you leave a lot of information in the shadows of the picture and you can do the most with the color grade in post. Something else I have found very handy is setting EX. TELE CONV. to one of the Fn buttons. You can do this in the Custom menu by going to the Fn Button set and assigning it to one of the buttons. It basically gives you a digital zoom in video with no loss of resolution. It does this by just using the middle of the chip, giving you a 2.7x zoom in 1080p and a 3.1x zoom in 720p. I used it in this video to make my Voigtlander 25mm f.95 into a wonderful 77.5mm macro lens.

Also in this video making a 300mm Nikkon lens into a 1860mm lens

A very helpful button!