Boinx TV: live-switched video studio in software

June 10, 2010 · Posted in B-Roll · Comments Off on Boinx TV: live-switched video studio in software 

Boinx Software has a studio switching program that will let you do live switching with graphics and supers as you record to your laptop. Boinx TV can take in multiple video streams and will switch cameras, graphics, stills, logos and clips as you record. If you want to do live programming, this is a cheap way to do it.

I talked to them at NAB 2010 and recorded this to show what they do.

Shoot news video on your iPhone

June 9, 2010 · Posted in B-Roll · Comments Off on Shoot news video on your iPhone 

VeriCorder Technology has put together a hardware and software solution to file news video from your iPhone. With an external microphone and their non-linear video editing software, you can cut a piece and send it right from your phone. In the video, a rep from VeriCorder shows off the software, which edits both audio and video, at their booth at NAB 2010 a couple of months ago. A professional version of the software costs $300 per year, while the consumer version is $10.

Apple’s announcement this week of the new iOS 4 operating system for their new iPhone 4 included the news that iMovie will now be available for the iPhone. You will have choices of video editing software for your phone! Who would have thought….

Comparing different types of microphones

June 9, 2010 · Posted in B-Roll · Comments Off on Comparing different types of microphones 

Want to know when to use a shotgun microphone and when to use an interview mic?

Guy Cochran over at compares eight different styles of microphone in this really useful listening test.  This will give you a good sense of how different a shotgun is from an omni; how a cardioid sounds compared to a lav; and what to use in a noisy environment.

Many people just starting out in video think a shotgun mic will solve their audio issues.  It won’t.

I recommend getting an interview-style mic as your first audio purchase.  Something like the Electrovoice RE50 is a well-respected choice.  An RE50 is an omni mic that is very resistant to handling and wind noise, and it is really useful in noisy environments, like in gyms or on the street.  You just need to get it close to the subject’s mouth.

A shotgun mic is a good choice outdoors but is not such a good choice indoors.  A shotgun mic works like a telephoto lens for audio – it compresses perspective and makes things behind your subject, including echoes off the wall, louder.  When you’re using a shotgun, you have to be very careful of the noise behind the subject – it’s particularly awful in street situations where you’re pointed toward traffic.

Microphones are like your lenses for audio…  you need different mics for different situations.

A video storage solution – Voyager Q Drive Dock

June 9, 2010 · Posted in B-Roll · Comments Off on A video storage solution – Voyager Q Drive Dock 

Through the South Florida Final Cut Pro Users Group, I got my hands on this new drive dock.

It looks like a toaster.

For small slices of bread.

The NewerTech Voyager Q drive dock is a quad-interface external drive dock that takes bare SATA drives in a slot on top.

It has a lever on the front, a slot on top, and a black-and-silver kitchen appliance color scheme. Just like your toaster.

But unlike your toaster, the Voyager dock has two firewire 800 and one firewire 400 ports, an SATA port, and a mini USB2 port. You can use the firewire interface to boot your Mac.

It takes both 3.5″ desktop and 2.5″ notebook SATA drives – and you can hot swap them.

If you’re a drive junkie always looking for your next fix of free space, this dock is terrific. You can order bare drives in bulk and pop them into the dock like your morning pastry. Less shelf space to worry about and much cheaper than buying external drives.

The day OWC sent me this dock for review, it saved me a lot of grief. The video card in my Mac Pro went out, leaving me in the dark. I was lost. I needed happy hour at the Genius bar. But first, I needed to clone my precious boot drive before taking the computer into the Apple store.

I hooked the Mac Pro to my laptop’s firewire 800 port and put the tower into target mode, and then plugged the Voyager dock into an Express Card eSATA adapter.

I fired up Carbon Copy Cloner and put it to work. It started copying at about 100 gigs an hour. Did the job quickly.

Later, I used Black Magic’s to check the speed of a Hitachi 1TB 7200rpm drive in the dock. With an ESATA connection, it reports 96.3 MB/s read and 97.8 MB/s write. With a firewire 800 connection, it reports 83.6 MB/s read and 58.5 write speeds.

It has the look and feel of most Chinese electronics… ABS plastic, and a little unpolished. But it pops the drives in and out just fine and the interface ports work great. In what must qualify as a modern miracle, it comes with all four cables: firewire 800 and 400 cables, sata, and usb cables. Its brain is an Oxford 934DSb chipset. It uses an auto-switching, UL-listed, external power brick that puts out 12 volts/3A from 100-240v, 50/60 Hz power. It has a one year warranty.

The specs at say that it has data transfer rates up to 3.0GB/s; that it is RoHS Compliant and CE approved, and that it is roughly 4″ x 6″ x 3 inches. It has an LED on the front that shows blue when the power is on and flashes red when the disk is busy. It’s just as silent as the drive you put in it, since it has no fan or other moving parts. It will take up to a 2.0TB drive.

Mac accessories retailer Other World Computing, at, is selling the Voyager Q for $89.99 and is offering it bundled with drives as well.

(I’m not being compensated for this review and have no connection with OWC nor NewerTech.  I liked the dock enough to buy the review unit at full price.)

(Originally posted November 16, 2009)

Report from NAB, the world’s largest trade show for video, broadcast, and TV

April 15, 2010 · Posted in B-Roll · Comments Off on Report from NAB, the world’s largest trade show for video, broadcast, and TV 

NAB is the world’s biggest conference for TV, film and video producers, with miles of halls filled with equipment on display.

This year it’s all about 3D and DSLR cameras. It seems like every booth has either dslr rigs or 3D lenses and equipment – or both. Biggest news of the show: B&H isn’t giving a show discount this year.

Most of the new stuff seems to be 3D related, but there are a couple of interesting cameras here.

The new Canon XF300 handycam is a tapeless big brother to the XHA1 but has full 1920×1080 chips that have amazing resolution. Even though it is a 1/3″ chip camera, you’d never believe it from the resolution charts I saw. This is serious competition to the big chip broadcast cameras, and has 4:2:2 color and a high data rate. Around six or seven grand price, depending on the model.

Panasonic and Sony both talked about budget cinema large-chip cameras but neither have anything you can handle.

The serious people are spending serious money on DSLR rigs with setups built around 1Dmk4 or 5D bodies with Cooke, Zeiss or Leica lenses that eclipse the price of the body by several orders of magnitude. There’s a lot of buzz about the last episode of House being shot entirely on 5D mk2’s – it airs May 17.

LED lights are everywhere you turn and prices are coming down.

I’ve spent the last two days buried in the world of broadband, iptv, and mobile video at NAB, so don’t have much new camera porn for you all. As I sit here amongst the slot machines at my airport gate, here’s a ‘stuff’ update.

The acronym for today is OTT – which stands for ‘over the top’ delivery of iptv to settop boxes. A new ‘freedom’ chip is coming on the market which will give settop tv boxes the power of computers and will enable tv, vod, and web access via the internet. – bypassing the cable company. This seems like a pretty big deal to me, but it was well-hidden at this broadcast event.

There were a bunch of cool things for ipads and iphones. VeriCorder has a non-linear video editor for the iPhone which is fairly amazing. They’re also going to market xlr adapters for the iPhone as well as plug-in mics. The pro NLE is $300 per year, but they have a consumer app for $10 that does some editing.

On the content delivery front, a new company to join the likes of Brightcove, VMix, etc is a Virginia company called Voped. They have a pretty good administrative interface, decent metrics and seemed like bright, capable and nice people. They automatically transcode for different formats, including mobile. Bandwidth costs about $1k per terabyte per month.

There were an overwhelming number of rigs for dslrs and the Zeiss folks were beating people back from their booth – all of whom had their checkbooks out for a $24,000 set of compact prime lenses. The uptake of dslrs is amazing. Canon had a huge presence at the show, with almost continuous presentations of shows by the likes of Vincent Laforet. The crowds were huge in front of that part of the Canon booth while the broadcast folks were standing around their beautiful expensive tv lenses with no one to talk to. Zeiss, Leica, and Cooke all had lenses for the Canons in their booths. Nikon was not visible at all at the show.

(Sorry, but I don’t know much about the new big-chip cameras announced by Panasonic and Sony. Panasonic will have a micro-four/thirds video camera at the end of 2010. Sony said they’re working on a big-chip camera but didn’t have mockups yet.)

Also overwhelming was the number of new LED based lighting systems. They’re starting to get the color temperature under control on the less-expensive units and a lot of them now have a switch to change from daylight to tungsten without having to use filters. Chinese LED lights were in every other booth and most looked the same but Filmgear, repped by Birns and Sawyer, looked to be quality stuff.

I went to the FCPUG Supermeet last night and saw presentations on Adobe CS5, Avid, and DaViinci color correction, along with 3D production (which is not at all simple.) Apple’s product manager for Final Cut Pro spoke at the event and highlighted many third-party developments. He did not say a single word about Apple’s plans for Final Cut.

NAB is the biggest trade show I’ve ever been to and I’m used to some big ones back home. It has three huge halls full of video and TV stuff. Never having been before, I don’t have much to compare it to, but I left with the impression that the whole TV industry has it’s head in the sand. Marketing for the show highlighted convergence and broadband, but the number of vendors and presentations on broadband and iptv was really pretty small. 3D seemed to be where people thought there was money to be made.

A shout-out to the list folks who got together at NAB – it was great and gratifying to meet you folks!

Interesting new Canon Vixia HFS 21 camera

January 11, 2010 · Posted in B-Roll · Comments Off on Interesting new Canon Vixia HFS 21 camera 

Canon announced a bunch of new cameras at CES. One that caught my attention was the new HFS 21 AVCHD camera.

It has dual SD card slots, downconverts to Mpeg4, and works with EyeFi cards. This theoretically means you could post video directly from the camera. And they put a viewfinder and a LanC jack on it. Woohoo!

Here’s Canon’s press announcement:

“VIXIA HF S-series:

The Canon VIXIA HF S21, VIXIA HF S20 and VIXIA HF S200 Flash Memory camcorders are Canon’s premiere camcorders with professional and easy-to-use features to allow anyone to capture outstanding HD video quality. The VIXIA HF S-series comes equipped with varying levels of internal flash memory and all feature two SD card slots for maximum storage capacity and easy video transfer. The VIXIA HF S21 and VIXIA HF S20 camcorders incorporate 64GB and 32GB of internal flash memory, respectively, and the VIXIA HF S200 records video directly to removable SD memory cards. Recording Full 1920 x 1080 HD video, these camcorders feature a Genuine Canon 10x HD Video Lens and a Canon 1/2.6-inch, 8.59-megapixel Full HD CMOS Image Sensor for stunning video and outstanding photos up to 8.0 megapixels. All three models in the VIXIA HF S-series include Canon’s new 3.5-inch High Resolution (922,000-dot) Touch Panel LCD screen for a large, bright display and easy menu navigation, including Touch & Track technology. All of the models in this series also feature Canon’s Smart Auto, Relay Recording, Powered IS, HD-to-SD Downconversion, and Advanced Video Snapshot.

In addition, the VIXIA HF S-Series includes a host of professional features such as a built-in LANC terminal, and Native 24p (AVCHD) recording. For shooting outside on a sunny day, the VIXIA HF S21 includes a viewfinder which offers a reliable viewing environment when shooting in bright outdoor conditions. The VIXIA HF S21, VIXIA HF S20 and VIXIA HF S200 Flash Memory camcorders are scheduled to be available in April, and will have an estimated retail price of $1399.99, $1099.99 and $999.99 respectively.”

Prague in winter; video from a Canon 1D MkIV

December 23, 2009 · Posted in B-Roll · Comments Off on Prague in winter; video from a Canon 1D MkIV 

Prague: Canon 1DMKIV from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Philip Bloom tries out the new Canon 1D MkIV on a snowy winter’s night in Prague. Happy Holidays, everyone!

And for your voyeuristic pleasure, here’s a behind-the-scenes video showing the gear and techniques that Vincent Laforet used with his first efforts with a 1D mkIV during the production of “Nocturne”, from Joseph Linaschke:

New version of Sony PMW EX1: the EX1R

October 20, 2009 · Posted in B-Roll · Comments Off on New version of Sony PMW EX1: the EX1R 

Sony will replace the PMW EX1 with the EX1R, which fixes everything wrong with the EX1 – Same wonderful HD image, but new viewfinder, new handgrip, new switches, new tripod socket, even a new DVCAM standard def mode that shoots in AVI files. This camera will rule the VJ world!

They’re also introducing the PMW350, which is a shoulder-mount 2/3″ XDCAM EX camera with a standard B4 lens mount, but which is available as a kit with an EX3-style autofocus lens. It’s supposed to be “affordable” by 2/3″ standards, with a working setup in the $20k range. It’s getting confusing with all the 350 models in Sony’s lineup.

New Sony Z5U camera announced

September 6, 2008 · Posted in B-Roll · Comments Off on New Sony Z5U camera announced 

UPDATE: The U.S. model is the HVR-Z5U and can be found here.

Sony has announced the HVR-Z5J in Japan. I’m sure the U.S. version will be announced soon.

It seems to be the replacement for the Z1, especially since they also announced an FX-1000. It is both HDV (tape) and compact flash with a dedicated add-on card unit. Has xlr audio and a fixed 20x lens with zoom, focus, and iris, just like the Canon XHA1. Coming in December. FX1000 lacks the xlrs.

New Nikon D90 does video!

August 27, 2008 · Posted in B-Roll · Comments Off on New Nikon D90 does video! 

Nikon today announced the D90, which does 720p video.

Will record up to 5 minutes of 1280×720 MJPEG AVI video at 24fps with mono sound. No external audio. No audio controls except on and off.

Supposed to be available in October for around a grand. The new Canon 50D also announced today doesn’t do video.

The Nikon official info:

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