July 2014 Ongoing Projects

I've got a lot in the queue and so I need to focus. Here are some of the topics I plan to cover in upcoming episodes:

  • Comparing RODE smartLav vs smartLav+ into the Zoom H1. The goal here is to finally get to the bottom of what causes all that noise in the original smartLav. Short answer: Its the mic. I just need to record this short episode and move on. Interestingly, in my tests last night, the sound of the two mics is quite different. The original smartLav has more low end, to the point where it almost sounds like a broadcaster mic with  what sounds like proximity effect--rich, almost woolly low end response. The smartLav+ on the other hand, sounds quite a bit more natural without that hype in the lows.
  • New lighting style--experimented this morning with an edgier type of lighting where there's no key light but instead, two kickers from behind, one on each side, and a fill light directly over the camera. It sort of worked. Still need to tweak that one a bit more.
  • Review of my new Photoflex Starlite QL with the large Silverdome NXT softbox. Loving this thing so far. Its sort of old-school in that the lamp is tungsten (love the color rendering!) and there's no way to dim it without changing out bulbs or adding a dimmer (and get funkier colors). Awesome for talking head and interviews and I managed to get it for only $350 US on special. Worth every penny.
  • Episode on color calibrating your computer monitor and using an X-Rite Color Checker Passport to get your colors corrected and figure out how much your lights and camera are messing with the color in your footage. This is an area where I am looking for solutions and don't have a lot of answers yet so it will be a longer journey, most likely.
  • Atomos Ninja 2 with the Panasonic GH4. I've found that I can capture pretty awesome HD footage from the GH4 if I set it in UHD/4K mode, set the HDMI setting to downsample to 1080 HD and record only with the Ninja 2. No moire. Way better HD than the camera records. In essence, this is downsampling to HD on the fly vs. doing it after the fact on my computer.
  • Atomos Shogun--placed my pre-order and looking forward to its arrival. Since I've been recording externally with the Ninja 2 for the last six months, I'm pretty sold on the concept of an external recorder when using DSLRs and DSLMs. Even though the Ninja 2's screen is pretty weak both in terms of color and size, I LOVE that it records to ProRes. I cannot even begin to express how much time and frustration that feature alone has saved me. Premiere and Resolve both seem to have a much easier time playing back ProRes footage, even after it is heavily graded. The secret is that ProRes files are huge, but the CPU and GPU don't have to do much decoding to display it. A lot of people will still scoff at the $700 USD price point of the Ninja and certainly scoff at the $2000 pricepoint of the Shogun but I don't regret that purchase in the least. The Ninja Star may be a good option for a lot of people that don't also need a monitor. If the Shogun works out nicely, it may also replace my separate audio recorder because I'll be able to feed my XLR mics directly into the Shogun. Fingers crossed that works out well.
  • Century Stand--yeah, I know, people don't get too excited about light stands but can I say that I bought my first century stand and probably won't buy another flimsy light stand again? Well, maybe if I need something ultra light, but this C-stand has done a lot reduce my fears of lights tumbling to the concrete or other hard floor. And they adjust so quickly and easily and precisely without flexing all over the place. They hold flags and allow you to precisely position them and allow you to do that so quickly and effortlessly. There is a reason that the big guys use them. Now I see.

There are a couple of other topics rolling around in the back of my head as well. If any of these above are higher priority to you, feel free to add a comment and we'll see about pushing it to the front of the line.