Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bye bye 2010... Hello 2011.

Okay, so i'm a day early with my 'Happy New Year'. But, i'm going to be in no fit state tomorrow night to be blogging.

2010 has been odd. We've had some really harsh stuff going down at the same time as having a really good year for my career. I originally hoped to get 'Their Law' off the ground in 2010...and we did start shooting the trailer in December, but it's pretty much all been put back to 2011.  Things just got so busy and i got majorly side-tracked by all kinds of projects and personal stuff.

2011 is going to be different. A plan is already forming. By the end of Feb, we'll release the proof of concept trailer for 'Their Law' and we can begin pitching. May brings Cannes madness around again...and this time we'll be ready.

I realised this week that i haven't written a song in 3 years... well, unless you include the music i write for TV ads etc. I used to live and breathe music... and i still love's my day job... but i've come to regard the music industry as a dying turkey that i need to avoid unless it's paying a day rate. I'm sure i'll come back to it... but right now, film is where i'm heading.

2010 was the year of DSLRs for me. I got my first Canon 550D and i've used it a lot. I've come to appreciate it's amazing capabilities and i really don't feel the need to rush out and get a AF101 just yet. I'm sure i'll get an AF101 or something similar at some point in the next year, but i've not had any issues with the DSLR route. The 12 minute recording limit hasn't once caused me any problems on set...i just don't ever shoot for that long with drama. And, i always record sound separately anyway, so the lack of XLR inputs etc isn't a problem for me.

Things i'd like to get done in 2011...

I want to get 'Their Law' fully funded and book the shoot. I know i've got a killer script and an excellent cast... and the trailer is going to prove it.

I want to re-evaluate how i divide my time between my engineering and my film projects. I love my sound engineering, but i've got to evolve.. i've changed and so have my aspirations.

It would be great to get the AirCam Project i've got going with Neil Jones developed to the point where it's bringing in regular work and allow us to upgrade the amount of camera ships we can operate.

I guess i've got to test the waters with 'Crowd Funding'. I'm really not into the whole idea... but i know it's an integral part of funding a film these days... but we're going to try a different take on it.

I won't bore you with all the usual blah blah blah for New Year... go to the gym, stop smoking cigars, stop enjoying myself so chance.

Have a great New Year... see you in 2011.

S xx

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Great short about guerrilla film-making

I got sent the link to this by Chris at Living Spirit. It's for a Pepsi competition on film-making... but it really embodies the vibe of making a film when you've got a tiny budget and you're relying on your friends and lots of favours. Been there, done that...loved it. Great film...make sure you watch it in 720p HD.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Recoil-AirCam Showreel

Over the last few months, myself and Neil Jones have been working on an aerial filming project to get a reliable and stable filming option for getting some awesome HD images from places you wouldn't normally be able to film from...and, we're ready to roll it out.

The AirCam can be set-up and in the air within minutes of arriving on location. We then fly until we've got the footage you need. Once we've got the footage, we can then edit it for you or supply the raw footage for you to with as you please.

Check out the showreel.

Recoil-AirCam ShowReel from Sean J Vincent on Vimeo.
Our new venture featuring the awesome piloting abilities of Neil Jones and his collection of Custom RC Camera Ships. By mounting an HD camera on the helicopter we can obtain some stunning aerial video as well as still photos.

It's quick to prepare and we deliver a package including footage from the air, from the ground and a selection of stills. Ideal for getting some beautiful shots for your website of your hotel, golf course, company headquarters, home...anything you can think of. Also ideal for drama, documentary, news gathering... you name it, we can do it.

Anyone interested in booking the use of our new service, email us at

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Stabilizers... i finally got one.

SteadyCams, steadicams or glidecams...whatever you want to call them, the camera stabilizer is one of those tools we're all going to want to try at some point. A good director i know, told me years ago that i should never buy one.  He said if you want decent steady camera footage, hire a SteadyCam with an operator...because in the long run it'll be cheaper. He probably had a point, and for features with a budget, i'd agree. But when you can pick up a decent stabilizer to mount a DSLR on for a few hundred quid... it's a bit too tempting to ignore.

First of all, let me explain what i was after...  I wanted a stabilizing rig that i could mount a Canon 550D on. I wanted it to be able to take a mattebox if necessary too... so nothing too small.  I want to be able to get some decent smooth shoots of people walking and talking for my next feature project.

I was lucky enough to be able to try a couple of different stabilizers before i made my choice.  I'd narrowed it down thanks to advice from Elskid ( and another friend of mine who'd recently bought a Flycam. So these were the contenders:

The GlideCam - A solidly built unit, but heavy on the wrist.

The Merlin - Easier on the wrist but very expensive.

FlyCam - An Indian GlideCam 'copy'. Still heavy on the wrist.

I tried a FlyCam first.  I'd been warned off of these because of the build quality. They appear to be a bit hit or miss. Some people have a complete nightmare with them...while others find them fine. The one i tried was terrible. I spent 2 hours with it and couldn't get it anywhere near balanced. The screws tapped directly into the aluminum tubing and i could tell it wouldn't last.

The Merlin got ruled out purely on price. I've heard very good things about it, but i'm not looking to spend that kind of money.

The Glidecam i tried was the 2000. It was a major improvement over the FlyCam and i manged to get it balanced in about an hour. It was obviously the right model for off i went to find the best deal.

At this point i hit a bit of a wall. The GlideCam range is only available from CreativeVideo in the UK....nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't leave much room for finding a good deal. Out of curiosity, i looked on the B&H website based in New York... luckily, i noticed a Second-Hand GlideCam 1000HD... it was going really cheap and this was for the HD version. I had quick read of the specs (this was a smaller model than the 2000) and it looked like it could just about take the i didn't hesitate.

It arrived today...just 4 days later. I assembled it in about 10 minutes and then set about balancing it. The first thing i did was mount a quick release plate on it. I don't want to be faffing around with screwdrivers everytime i want to swap my camera from the tripod or my handheld rig to the GlideCam. So...i mounted the camera and started balancing it. It's worth knowing that the HD version has little micro-adjustment thumb-screw. These are a godsend. It took about an hour...maybe a tad more to get it to the point where i could get it to stay absolutely vertical. I then did the usual running around the house that i'm sure all new SteadyCam owners do... 


Well, it's not gonna make the cut yet... but it's got some potential.  I can get 7 or 8 seconds of walking without it going off balance. It's all down to practice... so practice i will. After another hour, i was getting a lot better. It's alot to do with the technique of your other hand to guide it.

So, conclusions? The GlideCam 1000HD is good...really good, but it takes time. Don't go ordering one today if you've got a shoot at the end of the week.... cos you won't be good enough yet.  The GlideCam isn't the answer to all your smooth shot woes... you will still need a dolly sometimes and i'll still be using my GlideTrack a lot. It's just another option...another tool.

You might be wondering why i didn't try any of the Hague stabilizers... I was tempted. But, at the end of the day, i didn't trust the ball and socket type gimbal. I just couldn't see how they could properly isolate the camera from the movement of walking or running. It also didn't help that 'Man @ C&A' was posing with it on the website...(well spotted Elskid)  Sorry...but that's how it is.

When i get some good footage, i'll post it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Sony PMW-F3K

£12.5k Body Only £17.8k with 3 Prime Lenses (35, 50, 85mm)

I don't really see the point in blogging on all the same stuff as the many other film-making blogs, but i will mention the Sony F3K as i think it's a big moment for indie film making. With prices starting at around £12k (body only), it's not as accessible as the Panasonic AF101 or the multitude of DSLRs out there at the moment.... but, it's perfect for those looking to step up to the next level. It's probably going to be picked up as a B or C camera for F35 shoots and it's knocking right on the door of RED. At this point, RED users will be sharpening their tongues...but why? Have a look over at blimey, they are putting this camera down already! Some even say that the F3K is DOA...(dead on arrival).. Really? Why can't it just be another tool for film-makers? Cos that's exactly what it is.

All the arrival of the F3K says to me, is that in conjunction with Panny's AF101, RED left it too late for Scarlet. Never mind...let's move on.

Early 2011... it'll be here.  I guess we just have to wait for Phil Bloom to get hold of one and show us all how good it is now??  Would i want one? Sure... if you're giving them away. But, to be honest, at this kind of price point it's not the kind of camera you buy unless you own a rental house.  It does raise one question though... Are Canon going to release something along these lines? After all...they started it.

Here's the specs for the F3K.

Exmor™ Super35 CMOS image sensor

The PMW-F3K is equipped with a Super 35mm sensor which is the same size as Super 35mm film and has been specifically developed for digital cinematography. Its positioning within the chassis is exactly the same as it would be within a 35mm film camera – ensuring exactly the same optical performance with the unrivalled range of 35mm Cine lenses.

In addition, Sony's advanced accumulated sensor technologies provide an excellent sensitivity of F11 (ISO 800)* and a remarkable signal-to-noise ratio of just 63 dB*. Unique Exmor™ sensor offers exceptional noise reduction and greatly reduces power consumption.

*All measured at 1080/59.94i and typical value.

Three High Quality 35mm Lenses supplied as standard

To make your entry into the world of 35mm as easy and economical as possible, the PMW-F3K comes supplied with three high quality Sony lenses (35mm, 50mm and 85mm, T2.0).

PL Mount Adapter for compatibility with 35mm Cine Lenses

The PMW-F3K is supplied with a PL Mount Adapter to provide immediate compatibility with the huge range of filmic 35mm lenses, including prime, digital cinematography and even still lenses. There are also hot shoe electric interfaces for Cooke/i and ARRI LDS.

Sony F3 Original Mount for Zoom Lens

Sony plan to introduce a range of zoom lenses directly compatible with the F3 mount. More details will be revealed shortly. Zoom lens compatibility expands the operational flexibility of the F3 so it can be used for almost any application.

23.98P Native Recording

The PMW-F3K camcorder is the first compact camcorder to be a member of the legendary Sony CineAlta™ family. It offers native 23.98P* recording which, in combination with advanced creative features such as selectable gamma curves, makes this camcorder ideal for cinema production.

*In 1440 x 1080/23.98P (SP) mode, images are handled as 23.98P and recorded as 59.94i signals through means of 2-3 pull-down.

Slow & Quick Motion function

The PMW-F3K offers a powerful 'Slow & Quick Motion' function - commonly known as over-cranking and under-cranking in film shooting - enables users to create unique 'looks' or special effects with slow -and fast- motion images. This can be selected on the control dial on the side of the camcorder.

The PMW-F3K can capture images at frame rates selectable from 1 fps (frame per second) to 60 fps in 720P mode and from 1 fps to 30 fps in 1080P mode, in increments of 1 fps, onto a single card. For example, when viewed at 23.98P, images captured at 60 fps will appear 2.5 times slower than normal. Conversely, images captured at 4 fps will appear 6 times faster than normal.

With the 'Slow & Quick Motion' function of this camcorder, images are recorded natively without interpolating the frames. This means the quality of the slow -and fast- motion images is extremely high and incomparable to those created in the editing process. In addition, these slow -and fast- motion images can be played back immediately after shooting, without using any converters or processing on nonlinear editing systems.

1920 x 1080 HD recording using the 'MPEG-2 Long GOP' codec

The PMW-F3K camcorder records 1920 x 1080 HD images using the 'MPEG-2 Long GOP' codec, which conforms to the MPEG-2 MP@HL compression standard. 'MPEG-2 Long GOP' is a mature codec - also adopted by the XDCAM HD and HDV 1080i series of products - which enables users to record stunning-quality HD footage with highly efficient, reliable data compression.

Selectable Bit Rates

The PMW-F3K camcorder offers a choice of bit rates - either 35 Mb/s (HQ mode) or 25 Mb/s (SP mode) - depending on the desired picture quality and recording time. The HQ mode supports both 1920 x 1080 and 1280 x 720 resolutions. The SP mode supports 1440 x 1080 resolution at 25 Mb/s, which provides compatibility with HDV 1080i products.

Multiple-format recording - 1080/720 and Interlace/Progressive switchable operation

The PMW-F3K camcorder offers a wide array of recording formats for multiple content creation applications. Scanning mode is switchable between 1920 x 1080, 1280 x 720, and 1440 x 1080 resolutions. Frame rate is also selectable from interlace and progressive - 59.94i, 50i, 29.97P, 25P, and native 23.98P*.

In addition, 59.94P and 50P progressive recording is available in 1280 x 720 mode. The SxS memory card can simultaneously hold multiple files of any of these recording formats, allowing for flexible use of the memory card.

*In 1440 x 1080/23.98P (SP) mode, images are handled as 23.98P and recorded as 59.94i signals through means of 2-3 pull-down.

Slow Shutter Function

The PMW-F3K camcorder offers a 'Slow Shutter function' for capturing clear images in low-light environments. This allows the shutter speed to be extended to a maximum of 8 frames. The 'Slow Shutter function' not only increases camera sensitivity but also produces a special blurring effect when shooting a moving object, for enhanced shooting creativity. The shutter speed is selectable from 2-, 3-, 4-, 5-, 6-, 7- and 8-frame periods.

High-quality uncompressed audio recording

In addition to HD recording, high-quality audio is an equally significant feature in the XDCAM EX system. The PMW-F3K camcorder records and plays back high-quality, two-channel 16-bit, 48-kHz linear PCM uncompressed audio.

Exceptional workflow flexibility

The PMW-F3K uses XDCAM EX’s proven high-speed, intuitive workflow offering seamless integration with leading nonlinear editing software. In addition, 10bit 4:2:2 HD-SDI output opens up hybrid recording possibilities with content simultaneously recorded on internal memory and, in uncompressed form, on a variety of external recording devices.

From April 2011, a Dual Link HD-SDI option will enable 10bit RGB 23.98/25/29.97PsF or 10 bit 4:2:2 108050P/59.94P uncompressed external recording – ideal for integration with highest quality production workflows such as HDCAM SR. The PMW-F3K also supports selectable Gamma, four levels of HyperGamma and S-Log for a wide range of shooting conditions from standard to wide latitude. The PMW-F3K can simultaneously record LUT (Look Up Table) information onto the internal media for additional workflow flexibility.

3G-SDI is available for 10bit RGB 1080 23.98/25/29.97PsF or 10bit 4:2:2 1080 50/59.94P output.

SxS Memory Cards combine high transfer speeds and high reliability

Both SxS PRO™ and SxS-1A™* memory cards use the PCI Express interface to achieve an extremely high data-transfer speed of 800 Mbps - 1.2Gbps, and can resist considerable shock (1500 G) and vibration (15 G). Also, a unique 'Salvage function' serves to restore content damaged by power loss or memory disconnection during recording**.

In addition, with an optional MEAD-MS01 or MEAD-SD01 Media Adaptor***, a high-speed Memory Stick™ or SD memory card**** can be used as emergency or alternative recording media.

* SxS-1A memory cards support fewer re-writes than SxS PRO™ memory cards. Notification is given when an SxS-1 memory card approaches its end of life.

** In some cases, images recorded just before an accident may not be restored (several seconds). No warranty is given on always achieving content restoration.

*** Slow Motion and the Salvage function are not supported.

**** For information about memory devices, please contact your nearest Sony Specialist Dealer.

Long recording time

Utilising a mature and highly efficient compression format together with high performance SxS memory cards, the PMW-F3K can record superb quality HD images for an exceptional 140 minutes* on a single 32Gb update SxS card. As the PMW-F3K features two memory card slots, this recording time is easily doubled to 280 minutes (with two 32Gb cards) and when recording across two cards, the transition is seamless without any frame loss.

*When recording in HQ (35 Mb/s) mode, recording time may be more than the above specified figure depending on the actual bit rate that is adopted during VBR encoding.

IT Friendly

The PMW-F3K is part of Sony’s highly successful XDCAM EX product family which supports a high speed nonlinear workflow. With XDCAM EX, recordings are made as data files in the "MP4" format, which is widely used in a number of recent electronic portable devices and has been standardised by ISO.

File-based recording allows material to be handled with great flexibility in an IT-based environment - easily available for copying, transferring, sharing, and archiving. All these operations are accomplished without any 'digitising' process required.

File-based data copying allows for degradation-free dubbing of footage, which can be performed easily on a PC. The file-based recording system also allows for material to be viewed directly on a PC - simply by inserting the SxS memory card into the ExpressCard slot on a PC or Mac, or by linking a PC/Mac to the XDCAM EX unit via a USB2 connection. This works in just the same way as a PC reading files on an external drive. The file-based operation can dramatically improve the efficiency and quality of your workflow.

Immediate recording start and no overwriting footage

By virtue of recording on flash memory card, the PMW-F3K can start recording virtually the instant the camcorder is turned on. Moreover, the PMW-F3K automatically records on an empty area of the card - there's no danger of overwriting existing content.

This is extremely convenient, as camera operators do not have to worry about accidentally recording over good takes, and they don't have to search through footage for the correct position to start the next recording. In short, it means the camera is always ready for the next shot!

Instant-access thumbnail search with 'Expand' function

Each time a recording is started and stopped on the PMW-F3K camcorder, the content is recorded as a single clip. During playback, users can cue-up to the next or previous clip simply by pressing the 'Next' or 'Previous' button, as you would do on a CD or DVD player.

Furthermore, thumbnails are automatically generated for each clip as a visual reference, allowing operators to cue-up to a desired scene simply by guiding the cursor to a thumbnail and pressing the 'Play' button.

The 'Expand' function allows one selected clip in the thumbnail display to be divided into 12 even-time intervals, each with their own thumbnail identifier. This is useful if you want to quickly search for a particular scene within a lengthy clip.

3.5-inch* Hybrid Colour LCD Screen / Viewfinder as per EX1R

The PMW-F3K is equipped with a newly developed, easy-to-view, colour LCD screen with a high resolution of 1920 x 480 pixels. The LCD screen is located in an easy viewing position on the side of the camera.

The LCD Screen can also be used to instantly review recorded footage, as well as access the camera's set-up menus and view thumbnail display status indications such as audio meters, depth-of-field indicators, and the remaining memory and battery time. What's more, the Hybrid LCD screen - which comprises transmissive and reflective panels - offers clear viewing even in bright sunlight.

*Viewable area measured diagonally.

Genlock and Timecode Interfaces

The PMW-F3K includes genlock and timecode interfaces, making it ideal for multi-camera operation and entry level HD studio use.

3D System Link option*

Using this option you can easily synchronise timecode, genlock and control functionality with a single cable, locking together left and right cameras to simplify 3D acquisition. *Available from April 2011.

Remote control capability

The PMW-F3K offers professional remote control of various camera features via standard Sony 8-pin control interface. This allows use of Sony optional RM-B150 and RM-B750 remote control units offering increased flexibility for studio/location use.

Compact design

The PMW-F3K has a chassis built around its Super 35mm CMOS sensor. Its lightweight, compact design provides exceptional flexibility when shooting, particularly as a B-camera. It also offers a 'best of both worlds' combination of compatibility with 35mm lenses via a PL Mount adaptor, plus support for a huge range of other Sony and third-party digital cinematography accessories.

Low power consumption

Sony’s chip design expertise means the PMW-F3K operates with exceptional efficiency with an average power consumption of 24W. This makes the camera more reliable, extends its battery operating time and is also environmentally conscious. With the optional BP-U60 battery attached, the PMW-F3K can record continuously for just under three hours (with dual-link option off).

Wide array of interfaces

The PMW-F3K camcorder comes equipped with a wide range of interfaces optimised for a variety of operational needs. These include dual HD-SDI output, down-converted SD-SDI output, i.LINK (HDV) input/output, USB2 and analogue composite output.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

In Car and On Car Filming...

Last night, André and myself did some camera testing of the in-car shots for our next feature. I thought i would share what i've picked up about the subject along the way...

At some point during making most films, you need to shoot an in-car scene. In 'Shoot The DJ', there was loads of in-car scenes...because it was a road-movie. I learnt pretty quickly what kind of shots work and which ones don't.

Shooting handheld in a car is possible, but it's not ideal. You get some very shaky footage and it doesn't look very professional. The only time shooting handheld in a car seems to work is when the camera man is in the back seat filming over the shoulders of the people in the two front seats.  You still get shaky shots, but for some reason it looks acceptable.

There's a few car shots which really add production value to your film.. the first is the camera on the bonnet facing the windscreen. You need a polarizer on the lens to see through the windscreen without all the reflections, but the shot looks great. Second is the profile shot of the driver or the passenger. This often involves getting both the driver and the passenger in the same shot. In times gone by with big film cameras, you used to use a 'tray' type mount which hung on the door. These days you can mount a DSLR on the window without encumbering the car in anyway...which means you can still drive it.

To, me driving the car for real really makes a big difference to the feel of the shot. Sticking the car on a trailer ruins it for me. The driver never looks convincing when it's on a trailer.

Shot last night using a 550D with a Pentacon 50mm prime at F1.8 on a window clamp mount.

So, the best mounts for the job when mounting a DSLR to your car? Well, it's getting easier all the time thanks to the inventiveness of the various grip manufacturers, but these are my personal favourites:

The window clamp. This is a basic tripod head mounted on a clamp that just grabs onto a half-open window. The shots from these clamps are great...and if you mount it right, you won't need IS to get a steady shot.

  The bonnet mount.  The ones you buy are usually based around a suction cup with a mounting point on top. Sometimes they have multiple suction cups for a more rigid fix. In my experience, these tend to wobble about a bit and give a slightly shaky shot...and i'm never confident enough in the safety aspect of sticking my DSLR to a car with a sucker! So...i always use a ratchet strap and loads of bungy straps to hold everything in place securely. And this leads me to the following question...  why bother with the suction mount? In the next few weeks i'm going to make a mount which is basically a small frame with rubber feet the sits on the bonnet of the car and then attaches using the ratchet straps and bungy straps. It will be rigid and best of

The beanbag mount. Beanbags are great for mounting cameras in odd places. The beanbag car mount can be used anywhere... on the bonnet, on someone's lap or even on the roof. You use straps to secure the camera, but the beanbag ensures the camera is safely held and easily positioned. The only issue with these is that it's sometimes tricky to get the height required to see into the car properly when shooting from the bonnet.

Another angle you should look at is the Go Pro cameras. For under £300 you can buy one of these amazing little HD cameras and mount it anywhere. The footage they give is pretty good and can easily be cut with most DSLR footage if you're clever in the edit.

 For our next feature we're trying to cut down on shooting time so we're aiming to rig the cars so that they can shoot several shots all at once. We'll mount one DSLR on the bonnet looking through the windscreen, one on the passenger window shooting the driver's face in profile and and Go Pro on the front of the car low down shooting the road. They can all be adjusted so as not to get each other in shot and we'll get 3 shots in the space of time usually allowed for one.

Tips for successful in-car / on-car shooting:

1. Batteries... bring plenty and have a charger handy.

2. Plasitc bags and padding material..and PVC tape. You need to rain-proof and keep the crap on the road off your camera.

3. Don't go too mad with your shallow depth of field. The driver will rarely keep his/her head still enough for a very finely focused shot if you're not pulling focus on the fly...which most of the time, you won't be.

4. Invest in a long HDMI cable and a portable HD monitor... then you can check your shot as you drive. (hide in the back seat if you're not in the shot)

5. Allow much more time than you think... it takes ages to rig a good car shot and then you have to review the shots regularly.

6. Car shots at night? Don't over-light the inside of the car! It looks crap if there appears to be a 100watt lightbulb on the driver's lap! Use LEDs or fluro tubes...or both. Remember to keep to dis-used roads or back-roads if you're shooting at night with cameras mounted on the car AND lights on inside the car... it will just attract the attention of plod...and you don't want that.

7. Safety first. Don't be stupid...don't do anything that will impair the driver or could harm anyone on the roadside.

8. Data management. Get the footage from the camera onto your hard drives quickly.....don't leave a day's worth of good shots on a data card which is balancing on the bonnet of a moving car.... it's just not clever. Back-up...back-up....back-up...and back-up again.

EDIT:  I forgot to mention a really important point - You don't want to add any kind of 'shock absorbing' to the camera. I know it would seem to be a good idea, but you only need the slightest bit of padding to stop the camera or the car getting scratched. It doesn't matter how bumpy the road is, if the camera is fixed absolutely rigidly to it...the shot will appear not to wobble.  In the tests we performed yesterday, the non-IS lenses performed as well, if not better than the one with IS. (IS = image stabilzation)  It's worth looking out for car shots on Hollywood movies of the 80s...most of them are terrible!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What phone have you got?

Today, i got into a bout of 'What Phone Have You Got'. You know the drill... a friend asks what mobile phone you use, and then proceeds to tell you that you should have got what he got. It's quite often an iPhone user... but not always. I personally use an HTC Desire. It does everything i want and i'm really happy with it. I love my MacBook Pro, iMac and PowerMac...but for me, the iPhone wasn't what i needed. Anyway, none of that matters... the only reason people get into this debate is they want re-assurance that the 2 year contract they just bought into was the right choice....even if it wasn't.

This reminded me of the same arguments i see time and time again on the forums about DSLRs vs RED or 7D vs 5Dmk2 or 550D vs GH1... it's all about the same thing. "I just bought into this system and i'm going to brag about it's merits until you agree it's the best choice".  I was reading recently about a revered DoP who just bought a Sony F35 rather than a RED.  He was getting all kinds of crazy comments saying how he was stupid not buying into RED...especially as RED was so much cheaper. Now i've read up on all of this many times over. I know the F35 is capable of much more than the RED is... it's got more latitude and an easier post process... not to mention the RED's apparent softness in comparison. But that's not the point. The point is, people who didn't know what he was planning to shoot or why were criticizing his choice of camera system. I'm sure lots of you have noticed how 'scary' some of the RED users can get about their beloved system... it was pretty full on.

Now, i'm about to start work on a big project and i'm planning on using a few different cameras, but the one that's getting me the most hassle is my 550D. Yes, i know it's a crop sensor. Yes, i know it uses H.264 as an acquisition codec...and that's not ideal...and yes, i know it's not a RED. But... i don't care. It does what i want it to do. I've tested it in all the various settings I need it to work in and i think it blows the crap out of anything else i've tested. It's brought to mind something that happened to me over the last few weeks in the USA.

For those that don't know, i make my 'bread and butter' living from being a touring sound engineer. I've just come back from a tour of the States where i ran into some really old skool sound engineers in some of the venues. When i rock up with my MacBook Pro and soundcard instead of a big rack of processing gear, i get all kinds of smart remarks and sideways looks. That all stops as soon as they hear my mixes. I know there's a whole world of esoteric audio gear that is 'what everyone uses'. I used to use it. But i've moved on... i use the best tool for the job: - My MacBook Pro. It never gets lost in the baggage system (cos it's alway in my backpack). It never gives me backache when i carry it. It sounds as good, if not better than my old rack and it gives me tools that aren't available any other way.

In other words... it's like the DSLR of the professional audio world. I knew there was a reason i liked DSLRs. They're small, light and to the people that matter (the audience) they are as good as anything else.

I must add, i've spent all day today re-writing parts of the script to 'Their Law'. It's all essential stuff pointed out by a producer friend who had spotted some issues that needed looking at. And that's the rub... equipment should be merely a tool to get the story to the screen. The story is THE most important part of any film... and a good story is worth spending as much time as possible on. Cameras and workflows come and go...but the story will be talked about for years if you get it right.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Film Maker? Join The Queue...

I'm off on a long haul flight tonight, so i've been packing and ripping some DVDs into my Mac ready to watch on the plane. While all this DVD ingestion has been going on, i've been browsing my Twitter feed and catching up on all the other Film/Video related blogs out there.

There's a hell of a lot of back-patting from one indie film maker to another on Twitter at the moment. I guess that's what's known as a community... but it's a little worrying too. In the last year or two, lots of film makers (myself included) have begun networking with other film makers. Often, the common ground is either what they shoot on (DSLR more often than not) or how they go about raising finance (indiegogo, Kickstarter et al) or how they publicise their films. (Twitter, Facebook etc)  There's nothing wrong with this... it really has generated an interesting film making community. But i can't help thinking we've just homogenized into one big blur of desperate and less diverse film makers.

There's always exceptions. I've become 'twitter' buddies with some of them... people who have vision and see it though... for them i have nothing but respect. But... some film makers out there are not making films. They are talking about it... raising their profile...raising money...but not actually making films.

I hear very little talk about plots...about casting... about the craft of putting together a production. Very little of it has anything to do with what you shoot on or how many facebook friends you have. As i found out very early on in my first feature... if you've got a script and a camera.. you are nowhere near ready to shoot a film. The sheer size of the logistical nightmare that is awaiting the indie film maker is staggering.  I'm not going to go on about it... those who have done it know what i mean, and those who haven't will find out.

Now, there's definitely some hypocritical spewing from me today...  i love to talk DSLRs and i love to big up indie directors on twitter sometimes... but i really hope we can all keep the big picture in full view. We're in this to make films... not talk about it.

And that brings me neatly to my next subject.. my next feature 'Their Law'. We've booked the auditions for the first round of talent...and we've sourced the locations. It's a case now of getting the permits...securing the talent and then and only then...having a serious think about shooting format.

Happy film making.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Their Law. Our next feature.

Ever since we started on 'Shoot The DJ', i've had another film in mind that i would like to make... and a few weeks ago i finally finished the script for it.
Titled 'Their Law' (after the Prodigy song) it is a thriller set in London in the present day. It's the story of a man thrown into confusion when his entire world is turned upside down. His girlfriend is murdered, he thinks his best friend and boss was involved so he begins a rampage of revenge...but it's cut short by the interference of an unlikely offer from the the last place he expected it.. the law. Not knowing who to trust and dealing with the fall out of a reputation that is hard to escape, he slowly begins to realise all is not as it seems.

We've spent the last few weeks looking for investors and talking to potential cast and we've decided the best way to get the project moving is to make a 'proof of concept' trailer. A 5 minute blast of the film... We're aiming to shoot it this November and then use this to attract the investment we need to put the full film into production next year. The budget for the trailer is almost as much as we spent on the whole of 'Shoot The DJ' we're expecting it to look great and really get the flavour of the movie across.

At this stage we're looking for practical help with making the trailer. We need things like locations, some cars, a truck and some crew.

The crew we really need to find are:

Production Assistant - Specifically looking after the camera media. Logging and backing up on-set. Some helping out with the camera set-ups. A good knowledge of Macs is vital. Ideally someone who is very organised.

Production Sound Mixer & Boom operator - We'd like to find a 2-man soundcrew with their own equipment capable of providing up to 4 clip-on radio mic systems and a boom man. We need someone who can totally take care of all the on-set audio and deliver the files in an organised way on hard drives to the production assistant for backing up/transfer.

Script Supervisor/Continuity - Needs to be someone meticulous to stop continuity errors and make sure we cover everything in the script in each location. No experience necessary, but a real eye for detail. Would need to photograph each costume, location and camera set-up for reference purposes. Will also be required to help out with other on set jobs like making sure the sets are correctly dressed and possibly helping with the lighting set-ups.

Location Manager/Security - Someone who can take care of the practicalities of shooting on location. Liaising with property owners, businesses etc. Making sure we don't get in anyone's way and nobody gets in our way. Will involve speaking to Police, councils and other location related people. Security of crew while on set... keeping public interference to a minimum while causing as little disruption to people as possible.

We've had lots of applications already...many from some very qualified and experienced people, but don't be afraid to apply if you're just starting out.

We'll be booking auditions soon...the applications are coming in thick and fast from the casting advertisements we put up this week.

If you want to get involved in any way...please get in touch.

More news to follow.


Friday, September 3, 2010

DSLRs and The BBC...or not...or whatever!!

So, there's been a couple of stories this week about 2 BBC dramas being shot on the Canon 5D Mk2. Shock horror. The BBC approved their use!! People have been spitting the dummy over the dreadful standards the BBC must be slipping to. Then the BBC changed their minds and asked the website that published the story to retract it. They now say that they view each project on an individual basis and the 5D Mk2 still isn't officially approved....but the 2 dramas are being broadcast... so...err.. well. It's simple isn't it? If it's's good!

This is what i posted on the HDWarrior site in response to the slightly negative view of DSLRs... i thought you might be interested in my take on it all:

I don’t think anyone would argue that these are not interesting times! I don’t know when a debate has got people so agitated! People are definitely taking sides at the moment… for and against DSLRs.
This isn’t the first time something like this has split an industry.. but the TV/Film/Video industry would do well to remember what happened to the audio market a few years ago.. I’ll explain.
Just as the internet was taking hold in the late 90s, some bright spark invented the first mp3 compression codec and realised that you could squash a 40MB audio file into a 4mb audio file with very little in the way of audible artifacts. About the same time…Sony,EMI and the other major record labels had decided that it was about time to sell their back catalogues again, so they pounced on the “amazing” quality that DVD Audio could provide… basically 96kHz at 24bit. This, they said would in combination with a surround sound system, give listeners the ultimate home audio experience. They started paying engineers and producers lots of money to remix all the classics into this new format. They thought the uptake of home DVD players would ease the way for the audio side of things…
But, as in ALL of these cases…the public decided. They decided that portability and ease of “swapping” was far more important than “quality”. Most average consumers couldn’t hear the difference between a full bandwidth CD recording and a compressed mp3. My industry wept.. Sound engineers like myself couldn’t believe punters were prepared to listen to such crappy audio…but they were…and they still do. Kids now listen to most of their music on ipods or even mobile phone speakers. No amount of moaning about the dumbing down of our trade will stop them.

Because the music industry was so slow to realise what was going on…it got totally screwed by piracy. No one was prepared to supply the demand for mp3s until it was too late and we’d all got all our music for free. It affected the production of music too…studios were no longer needed to produce master quality recordings..especially if they end up as mp3s anyway. Studios closed in their hundreds. There are less than 10% of the studios going now that there were in the UK in 1995. Harsh news for sound engineers.

Now, look at the DSLR debate. It’s the old school pros who are up in arms. Proper camera men and women who have strived for quality for years. Then some newbies with cheap DSLRs turn up and steal their thunder with their lesser specs and reliance on a shallow DoF. I get it…it’s probably driving you all nuts. BUT…dig your heels in and you’ll miss the point. The floor just got opened up to thousands of film-makers… you will need to use your experience to prove your worth with better shots, better edits and better material…don’t rely on “better gear on paper”… or you’ll end up on the scrap heap. Harsh…but true.

Can we all get back to shooting some great films now?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Celestial Coast.... new movie on Vimeo

Another of my little films shot with my Canon 550D.

Celestial Coast from Sean J Vincent on Vimeo.

Combination of time-lapses and other footage shot on the beautiful Hunstanton coast while on holiday there this year. All shot on the Canon 550D. Lenses used: stock 18-55mm, 50mm Pentacon Prime, 28mm Prime and a WA adapter.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

While I was sleeping...

This is a collection of time-lapses shot out of various hotel room windows and balconies. Most of them were shot with the stock 18-55mm lens on the 550D, but the night shot of the passing cars was shot with my 50mm f1.8 Pentax prime. It was all stuck together in iMovie. (i rarely use Final Cut for any of these little vimeo movies.. ) Hope you like it.
While i was sleeping... from Sean J Vincent on Vimeo.
A collection of time-lapses shot from various hotels. Shot in Germany, Sweden and Finland. (Finland is the shot with the barely got dark..most of the night was broad daylight)

Friday, July 30, 2010

It's been a while...

So, what's been happening? Well, we're still promoting 'Shoot The DJ'... there's been some really interesting developments. We're currently showing it for free on YouTube...(not for long, just a few weeks) and we're also arranging a Hamburg screening. On the 23rd September we'll be showing the film at the Sicht Bar in Hamburg's St Pauli district. There's still more festivals, expos and screenings... so it's still got life in it yet.
But... we're also in the early stages of the next film.. With a working title of 'Their Law', we're currently talking to investors and looking for cast and crew, not to mention locations and all the other millions of things that need organising.

Anyone wanting to get involved in the next film, let me know. We're still looking for crew and general help.. so get in touch. We're aiming for a November/December 2010 shoot.

While i'm here, i'd better mention the whole UK Film Council thing...cos everyone else has said their piece!

Okay, i had a very negative view of the Film Council. I never got any love from them...i asked for help from them and they did give me some advice, but they didn't want to give me any financial help. Like a lot of people have already said, they seem to back the same directors and the same kind of movies time after time. They also seemed to favour teams who could tick as many 'politically correct' boxes as possible.  I don't really understand their ethos. Surely a government quango set up to help encourage new film talent should do just that...not judge which writers, directors and producers are worthy of their help...but support anyone who has got the get up and go to put together a production. I'd rather they backed a thousand micro budget films with a few grand than the way they have been doing it... but that's just me.

Personally, i think it does a new film-maker a world of good to find their own finance..take total control and run a film like a business.

Back soon..x

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Panasonic AG-AF100... more details..better pic.

The AG-AF100 is a professional AVCCAM Series HD camera recorder equipped with the Micro Four Thirds optical system commonly used in digital single lens still cameras. It directly accommodates Micro Four Thirds digital single lens still camera lenses, and an adaptor can be used to mount 35 mm film camera lenses and prime lenses. This lets you capture a wealth of film-like images with distinctive lens characteristics, like a shallow depth of field and an attractive soft focus. Designed for stable camera work, the AG-AF100 is packed with functions and specifications that combine comfortable operation with superb images and extended recording times. It features HD-SDI output and mic input, remote control terminals, and versatile system interfaces that you normally find only on professional camera recorders.
The AG-AF100 also offers PH mode recording to deliver optimal AVCHD image quality in multiple HD video formats — including 24p and 30p. The variable frame rate enables slow/quick motion recording. Use the AG-AF100 to produce videos with stunning image quality, such as music, promotional, TV commercial and other short productions.

A 4/3-inch Image Sensor with Digital Still Camera Technology
The same digital single lens still camera technology that’s gathering widespread attention for its innovative motion image techniques, has been applied to this camera recorder.
The 4/3-inch MOS image sensor, with an imaging area similar to that of 35 mm movies, lets you easily shoot film-like movies with the shallow depth of field and soft focus of a film camera lens.

Micro Four Thirds Lens Mount
A wide variety of lenses for Micro Four Thirds standard digital SLR cameras can be used for shooting movies. With the mount adaptor, it is also possible to mount 35mm film camera lenses and prime lenses to render images that maximize lens characteristics.

Extended Recording in AVCHD High-Quality PH Mode
The AVCHD recording format used by the AG-AF100 includes a professional PH mode with maximum AVCHD bit rate for stunning image quality. Two SD card slots allow continuous recording for up to 12 hours* in PH mode and up to 48 hours* in HE mode with two SD (SD/SDHC/SDXC) cards on board.

*Using two 64-GB SDXC Memory Cards.
Multi HD Format and Multi Frame Rate
SDXC Memory Card (64GB)
Comparison of image sensors Left: 4/3-inch, Right: 2/3-inch
35mm film camera lenses and prime lenses, to render images that maximize lens characteristics.

Multi HD Format and Multi Frame Rate
SDXC Memory Card (64GB)
Comparison of image sensors Left: 4/3-inch, Right: 2/3-inch
35mm film camera lenses and prime lenses, to render images that maximize lens characteristics.

The AG-AF100 records in 1080:59.94i/50i/29.97p/25p/23.98p or 720:29.94p/50p/29.97p/25p/23.98p with its multi HD format. When recording in 720p mode, you can render movie-like images with effects like slow and quick motion. The Dynamic Range Stretcher, Gamma Select and other image features have also been inherited from previous Panasonic professional camera recorders.

A Professional Design with HD-SDI, XLR and Other Interfaces
The AG-AF100 features HD-SDI output, XLR audio 2 channel input, and other interfaces that are typically found on professional camera recorders. Time code recording also supports precise video production. In addition to its compact, lightweight body, the AG-AF100′s professional camera recorder design with grip, handle and large viewfinder firmly support reliable camera work.

This looks just like the camera a lot of us have been waiting for. I'm not going to get rid of my DSLR, but this will definitely be a camera that can take over a lot of duties that the Canon is being used for. For my feature drama work, this camera could become the 'A' camera i've been looking for.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

RED Hold-up....again.

RED have announced another delay in the delivery of both the new EPIC and SCARLET cameras. Apparently, a US based parts supplier has been giving them issues and they have a software 'bug' that is proving tricky to fix.

So, all you RED fans sitting on the fence better take another look at the DSLRs...or wait for the upcoming large sensor cams from Panasonic or Sony.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Flippin' Great Little Camera...the Flip UltraHD

Just before the Cannes Film Festival kicked off, i got an email from Celluloid Dreams / The Auteurs (now called Mubi) about a competition they were opening up to all the film-makers with shorts in the 'Short Film Corner' part of the festival. It was called 'Cannes å la Flip'. They wanted us to send in a 300 word pitch for a 3 min film to be shot on a Flip UltraHD while in Cannes.

Anyway, a 300 word pitch later and i get an email asking me to pick up my Flip camera from their stand in the Palais. What they didn't say though, was that i get to keep it. Result!

The Flip UltraHD is chunky.. it's a bit like a mobile phone from a few years ago. But...considering it shoots 720p HD and has an 8GB memory...and a built-in flip-out USB plug...and a mini HDMI's small really.  It fits in your pocket...but maybe not in tight jeans. Btw - 8GB gives you 2 hours of 720p recording.

Using it is as easy as it gets. Turn it on, press the red button and you're shooting. It boots up in 2 seconds, so it's great to grab it when things happen that you suddenly want to film. You can playback, erase and even use the digital zoom (but i try to avoid it)'s so easy to use.

The picture quality is quite amazing. It's very detailed and holds up even in quite dimly lit situations.
My only gripe really is the lack of anti-shake. To get the best from it you really have to hold it against something like a wall or a table to keep it steady.

I'm totally Mac, so i can't tell you about the free PC software that comes on the internal memory. It just shows up as an external drive on my mac and i drag and drop the clips just like any others i use.

For me there's some big reasons all directors should get a Flip UltraHD.

1) It shoots very usable 720p HD video but it fits in your pocket.

2) You can velcro / gaffa  it to anything for incredible shots... car shots, helicopter name it.

3) It's easy to charge on the go and even lets you replace the rechargeable battery with 2 regular AAs if you need to.

4) It's so cheap for what it is... you could buy a few to use as crash cams.

You might have guessed...i highly recommend the Flip UltraHD.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Festival De Cannes 2010....the full story.

I went down to Cannes with the 'Shoot The DJ' team. We were very lucky to have our Exec Producer Derek along as he drove us all there in a 37ft American Winnebago. This thing was huge.. we traveled in comfort from just north of London all the way to Cannes. We did two overnight stops along the way, the first just a few hours from Calais and the second in Avignon. We arrived in Cannes on the 15th and drove right along the Croisette looking for the accreditation office. We dived in and quickly grabbed our passes before driving a few more miles to a beautiful campsite just outside Antibes..about 10 miles from Cannes. We got very lucky with where we parked up the bus. (we started referring to it as the bus almost as soon as we got on it....due to our regular trips on tour was pretty similar) We were about 20 paces from the little bar which was also a pizzeria that did amazing pizzas as well as steak, kebabs...everything. Perfect.

The first night, we got dressed up (a bit) and headed into Cannes at around 10pm. Luckily, we were only about 1/4 mile from a bus stop where you can get bus right into the middle of Cannes for 1 Euro!
We headed for the Nordisk Film Party. A friend of ours had got us on the guest list and told us who to speak to when we got there. We got there a bit early and there weren't many other people there at first... but it soon filled up. We struggled a little bit to find an opening gambit to get the conversation going with other guests. We enjoyed the free champagne and the free JD, but after an hour of enjoying the drink and the great view from the hotel balcony, we decided it was time to move on. We went straight for the Carlton Hotel. Rick and myself have been to the Midem Music festival in Cannes many times in the past and The Carlton was one of the three hotels where you had to go to meet the right people. This was almost empty. We didn't bother staying for a drink. Next, we headed up to The Majestic. This was a bit busier, but not much. We got a drink and sat outside. A word of warning here: Drinks in Cannes are expensive. The hotels and clubs on the Croisette will charge up to 10 Euros a pint and sometimes 28 Euros for s short with a mixer. Yes...i know, it's mental...but that's what it costs over there. Start saving now for next year cos you can spend a lot in just a few days.

After the Majestic we decided to find out about train times. We knew the buses would not be running late at night, but we had been told we could get a train from Cannes to our campsite at about 1am. We were also told that if we missed this train, the next one was at about 5am! Sooo... we went to see the Concierge at the Carlton... he told us that the last train had left already..(it was 12:15) and the next one wasn't until 4:40am. It was sunday...we forgot. Pants. We considered our options.

1) Taxi. 200 Euros!!! (no kidding...and only one cab company in no options)

2) Walk. It's 10 miles. No chance. We'd get lost.

3) Stay out until the next train at 4:40am. Seems the best plan to me...

So we tried The Grand. The Grand hotel in Cannes is set back a little bit from the road and there's a huge lawn which they had covered with huge inflatable white sofas and an outside bar with some really funky lighting.

Well, this place was a revelation. This is where it is at in Cannes during the film festival. If English is your main language...The Grand is the place for you. The place is rammed with British, American and Australian film people...from producers, financiers, and directors to actors, actresses and crew... this place had them all. The bar wasn't as expensive as some and the drinks were really good. The sofas on the lawn were great and we ended up there every night.

The second night we got invited to a yacht party in the harbour. This is the way to do drinks, free food...amazing industry people everywhere... it was great. We met some very influential people and pitched our next project to lots of people. By the second night we had learnt what not to do...and with a little help from our business guru Derek, we got our patter just right.

Some things you need to know about Cannes before you come:

1) During the day, the Palais is the place to be. Visit the stands, see the Pavilions behind the Palais and generally soak up the atmosphere. There's lots to see and many people to pitch to...(if you dare) and there's even some really good courses/workshops. But deals are rarely done and new business relationships are rarely formed unless you've set up meetings in advance.

2) Early evening is dead...unless you want to go and see a premiere or you have a dinner appointment, give the Croisette a miss before 10pm...even 10 is a bit early. We found getting to the hotels about 11 or 12 was perfect. People are back from their expensive dinners and out of the screenings by then.

3) Don't overdo the pitch. We saw so many people giving it the 'hard sell'...some even tried it on us... they didn't even bother to find out that we weren't looking for other projects to work on.  Be friendly, get a round in, remember where you are.... if you're pitching to someone in a bar after midnight...maybe you should just keep it light...swap cards and try to 'get on' so that you can follow it up with an email... then you can decide who is worth spending time on. It also gives you a chance to Google them... there are lots of players out in Cannes....which is point 4..

4) There are lots of 'players' in Cannes. Rich kids who get a bunch of business card printed up before heading to Cannes in their Lambos and Bentleys to see what they can find. Usually they're on the pull...but sometimes they're looking for suckers to drag into their made-up little world. Keep sharp and stay away from dickheads. Conversely, we met a few young producers who were legit...and they were often totally paralytic and full of ego...but their CVs checked out. Tricky... just use your instinct.

 All in all, our Cannes experience was very positive. We spent 5 days there and we got something positive out of every day. The Short Film Corner was really cool...lovely, helpful people and a really good way to get into the Cannes Festival.  We met a few people from Twitter-land over there...including Chris from LivingSpirit (who did the guerilla film makers books). He pointed us in the direction of a distributor who then gave us some invaluable advice and that alone made that particular day worthwhile. Luckily for us, almost every day was like encounter with one person would always lead on to another with someone else who would turn out to be just who we needed. we've got lots and lots of business cards and lots of people to follow up with. We're going to meet some people we met over there, over here and hopefully our trip to Cannes in 2010 has been the boost our next project needed and the 'finale' of 'Shoot The DJ'.

Myself and Rick flew from Nice to Germany for a gig before flying home, but André and Derek drove all the way back in the bus. We're already planning how to get the most from next year's Cannes Festival.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010 'Shoot The DJ' for just $1.99...

Seeing as we're not offering an NTSC DVD for use in the USA yet, we've set up a rental agreement with YouTube so fans in the US can watch the film right now. You get 72 hours from the time that you pay to watch the film. Cool huh?

Just click the link below:

Saturday, May 8, 2010

4 blokes, a winnebego and a camera...we're off to Cannes!

 On wednesday 13th May...myself, André, Rick and Derek are off to the Cannes Film Festival. Both myself and André have films in the festival and we're also there to promote 'Shoot The DJ' to foreign distributors and to raise investment for our next feature, 'Their Law'.

We're driving to Cannes in a 37ft American winnebego...this thing is huge. It's like a tour bus that got cross-bred with a caravan. We're leaving on the 13th and driving down to Cannes to arrive sometime on the 15th.  Aside from another little project we're filming whist there, we're also going to be shooting a video diary.  The idea is that we're going to document our whole trip from the morning we leave home until we arrive back again sometime on the 21st.

Right now we're prepping, packing and getting measured up for tuxedos. (Yes, you really do have to wear them at the evening premieres).

Anyone who fancies meeting up while we're over there, drop me a mail.. would be great to meet some other film-makers from Twitter-land while we're there.

I'll be blogging every few days too... so pop back now and again to see what goes on.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Looking for crew members for November/December 2010. 4 to 5 weeks.

Recoil-Films ( is putting a new feature into production this year and we are planning a 4 to 5 week shoot during November/December. We're looking for some crew to make this possible.

The positions we need to fill are:

Production Assistant - Specifically looking after the camera media. Logging and backing up on-set. Some helping out with the camera set-ups. A good knowledge of Macs is vital. Ideally someone who is very organised.

Production Sound Mixer & Boom operator - We'd like to find a 2-man soundcrew with their own equipment capable of providing up to 4 clip-on radio mic systems and a boom man. We need someone who can totally take care of all the on-set audio and deliver the files in an organised way on hard drives to the production assistant for backing up/transfer.

 Script Supervisor/Continuity - Needs to be someone meticulous to stop continuity errors and make sure we cover everything in the script in each location. No experience necessary, but a real eye for detail. Would need to photograph each costume, location and camera set-up for reference purposes. Will also be required to help out with other on set jobs like making sure the sets are correctly dressed and possibly helping with the lighting set-ups.

Location Manager/Security - Someone who can take care of the practicalities of shooting on location. Liaising with property owners, businesses etc. Making sure we don't get in anyone's way and nobody gets in our way. Will involve speaking to Police, councils and other location related people. Security of crew while on set... keeping public interference to a minimum while causing as little disruption to people as possible.

We're about to start planning, financing and casting and depending on finance going to plan, all these roles will be paid. Being a low budget production the weekly rates for these positions varies between £250 and £400 per week.

Anyone interested in getting involved should email with their relevant experience, CV or whatever you think we need to know in order to consider you.

Email us at:

Saturday, April 24, 2010

DVD Studio Pro nightmares...and mpeg2 woes..

I've spent the last few weeks working on the DVD for our 'Shoot The DJ' movie. I spent days making the background images in photoshop, hours crafting the menu system so that it flows and looks great...and literally weeks trying different compressor settings for compressing the 20GB film file down to a 4.8GB mpeg2 to fit on the dual layer DVD. (along with various other bits like out-takes and trailers)

I have run into several issues. Firstly, compressing to mpeg2 is depressing. It takes a nice looking master and makes it look pants. I've tried CBR, VBR, Apple Compressor, FFmpeg and even paid for a Sonic SD-2000 professional encode.. but, it always looks like we shot the film on mobile phone by the time it's finished.

What i have learned is this: If any of your source footage is not up to scratch, it will totally suck by the time mpeg2 has got hold of it. So, if you've got a dodgy bit of footage in your film...maybe a little too dark and starting to show the signs of noise in the blacks...even just a little bit...compressing to mpeg2 will destroy it. We had a scene which was under-exposed when it was shot. The original footage looked a bit dodgy, but we decided it was probably ok. We were wrong.

All the daylight or nicely lit shots look ok. Not amazing..but certainly ok and most people won't see any issue at all with them, but the noise in the picture on the dark scenes is definitely distracting to the viewer.

Anyway, once i'd accepted that picture quality was just something we had to learn by and move on, i came up against another major issue... DVD Studio Pro 4. I had completed my DVD building and was in the process of setting the 'break point' for the dual layer. I placed the marker at an appropriate place in the film, ticked 'break point' and un-ticked 'chapter' and then in the main DVD menu section, i selected the right break point from the drop down list. I then burned a test DVD. The test didn't work too well. The encode looked rough and the break point wasn't as good as it could be. The menus also were a bit erratic.

So... i changed the mpeg2 movie file for a new version and then re-set all the chapter markers and set my break point marker. But...this time, i couldn't change it in the drop down menu. It would only let me select the previous marker or 'automatic'. All the other markers were in the drop down menu, but none of them would stay selected. So..i tried to delete the track which the marker was set within.... it wouldn't delete. I tried deleting it from the graphical view, from the connections tab...nowhere would let me delete it. Then i tried removing all the connections to it..from all the menus and the other files in the DVD. Still, it would not let me delete it.

It turns out, that the mpeg2 file that i had the break point set within had some kind of corruption in the file. I had to re-encode the file and start again. Now, with all the work on the DVD menu and other assests, i  didn't want to start from scratch...but if i tried to re-use the same file, it wouldn't let me delete the old i found a way out.

I highlighted each section in the graphical view and then exported it using file/export/item description.

Then, i started a new project and imported the item descriptions for all the various bits and hey presto...i was back on track...and all the connections were still working. But... the nasty offending file was long gone. All i had to do now was create my DDP files and burn them to DVDRs. Easy...

From now on i'm looking at new delivery methods...from well shot HD...never skanky SD's too much stress!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sneaky pics of Panasonic AG-AF100

Thanks to HotRod Cameras for these pics from NAB. Apparently there's a PL mount adapter just out of shot too...

If Sony and Canon have these kinda cams on the way too, it's going to be an exciting time for film-makers.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sony Show a Glimpse of a Large Sensor Cam for 2011

Sony - New Small Prototype Digital Cinema Camera - NAB 2010 - Playback from camera department on Vimeo.
Sony unveiled a new prototype for a small digital cinema camera at their NAB 2010 press conference. The camera is scheduled to be released at next year's NAB.

Sony's Twitter feed leaked this pic out earlier from NAB in Vegas. It's their take on the large sensor 'shallow depth of field' type camera to rival the DSLRs. There's not much detail or specs, so it's mostly speculation, but that's a 65mm prime on the front and it looks like a flip-out LCD screen and all the trimmings you'd expect from a video camera as opposed to a DSLR. It will use SXS cards and has a full 35mm sensor...great news.  Slated for a 2011 release, this sector of the market is really hotting up. I'm sure the RED Scarlett is going to be great, but the age it's taken to get to market is going to really hurt their sales if Sony and Panasonic have similar rigs coming up... and that's without Canon showing their hand yet.

However you look at it, it's great news for film-makers. Let's just hope we can use a wide range of lenses on these new cams and that they keep the prices sensible.

Park Life - New 550D (T2i) Test Shoot

Park Life from Sean J Vincent on Vimeo.

Sunday afternoon at the park with the kids. Canon 550D (T2i), the 18-55mm stock lens and my 50mm Zeiss Pentacon Prime.

All handheld.. and a little over-exposed in places.. Not bad for a little test shoot with no tripod or ND filters though...