Wednesday 2 December 2015

Joel Anderson - BMCC ( the Sony FS5's first real outing )

This last week went off to Wales, the Black Mountain Cycle Center to be more exact to shoot a short and simple shredit with Wideopenmags new pinner and test pilot Joel Anderson.

The brief was simple, a 2-3 min edit, doesn't need to be super polished just good solid riding and an intro to both Joel and the venue. Shot in 5 hours with the new Sony FS5.

This was the new cameras first real outing, and first finished product shot entirely on the camera. It did just as well as you would expect.

After talking with a few other Sony users I went for Slog2 with Cinema colour space as Slog3 was just a bit too noisy to trust 100% on a paying job and the end result is no worse off for it at all.

Main things I found out extra to my post last week after a quick play was:

  • The footage works fine in Premiere CC on 1/2 quality on my laptop ( specs in last blog ) 
  • The clear image zoom DOES affect quality, so use sparingly. 
  • Battery life is amazing. 
  • 400Fps has some nasty CA.
  • Vari NDs will change the way I shoot from now on. 
Being both a photographer and filmer, I also got a few still photos on the shoot to go up alongside the full article you can find here: 

Cheers for reading.


Friday 20 November 2015

Sony FS5 - Initial real world thoughts

If you want full specs of this camera etc please see here. This is just a few of my thoughts and findings after my first day playing with the new camera. Its also the first time I have shot using Slog and more experimenting is needed before I get it dialed in just right.  

Very rough and ready short video with some footage. Jamie got a flat tire before I could get started so its all hand held. Range of 4K, 1080, 25,50,200 and 800Fps footage. Everything shot at base ISO of 3200 in Slog3 and  S-Gamut3.Cine 5500K Colour. Full video shot with the new camera out next week.
The new Sony PXW-FS5. Its Small but perfectly formed and for the money and size is hard to beat in my opinion.

First thing taking it out the box was how small and light it is. Light but solid, feels like it could take a few knocks. Stripped down to just the body ( still perfectly usable ) its not too much bigger in size than a 5D3 body, fits on a Ronin M gimbal and with a pancake lens even most full size drones.

Even with a large capacity battery in, side handle, top handle, meta bones speed booster and Sigma 24-50 1.4 ( read on ) on its nice, compact and light. I could easily hand hold this for a full days shooting and I wouldn't feel ruined ( I have arms like twigs so that's saying something )

A little before and after grade. The 1080 image holds up great to heavy grades and Slog 3 looks pretty amazing.
LCD Screen

The screen can be mounted loads of places, all the places you would want to put it, the side handle can change positions again all the stop clicks seem to be just where you want them to be, the LCDVF on the back of the main body is good, similar to that on an A7 series or GH4, the main screen is better if you can use it mind, almost retina quality.

The main things that sold me on this camera where:
  • Small size
  • 10bit colour space
  • 200Fps in 10bit, 400Fps if you take a hit
  • Vari NDs
  • Clear Image Zoom
  • Long battery life
  • With a speed booster its full frame
  • Low light capability's
I never got this camera with 4K in mind, that will come later as and when clients start asking for it, and via an external recorder 7Q style.

The only things I heard coming in that might be an issue where the 8bit 4K which like I say isn't an issue in my mind and the fact the XAVC 10bit codec was very computer hungry, other than that it was all good!

10 Bit

This was in my book one of the big steps up this camera offers over say the FS700 or C100. Rather than only having 256 shades of grey you now have 1024. Much better for grading, less banding in skies etc

Slog on 8 bit cameras is in its very existence a bit tricky to work with. Super flat PP that need lots of grading, but 8 bit codecs that don't take grading very well...

See below to see the kind of issues you can have shooting and grade out and the pictures still look amazing, I can see this is going to very useful.

Over exposed below, that nice 10bit grading out smooth as you like with no banding or breaking up of the image.
Slow Motion

In short 200Fps looks amazing, but isn't very forgiving regards exposure, 400Fps is alright but looks worse, don't even bother with 800Fps.

With 200/25 FPS Super Slow motion I tested it a number of times and got real time recorded time of 8-9 seconds depending on what was in shot, and using GOBE 64GB SDXC Class 10 U3 104MB/S cards took anywhere from 38-40 seconds to buffer.

I did some tests you can see below to see the quality of both 400 and 800 FPS and the drop off is very noticeable.

This is a side by side of the same frame at different frame rates. 25 bottom left, bottom right 50, middle left 200, middle right 400 and 800 at the top. Notice 800 crops in, and looks super shit.

400 is very usable but unsurprisingly only in good light, and if you expose it just right, 800 is a bit of a gimmick and I cant see me ever using it, god awful in wide shots, maybe if its only ever going on phone screens and you shoot long and shallow DOF ?!? How ever 200 was a bit more noise prone than normal frame rates, but if you over exposed slightly looks stunning, 90% as good as full speed footage.

Some 200 Fps super slow mo shot in Slog 3 pre and post grade. Noisy to start with but looks a load better after a bit of work.

The Codec

Now the camera shoots AVCHD which is great, easy to work with, smaller file sizes and 8bit. If you aren't shooting Log, need a quick turn around or wont be grading much then it makes a lot of sense.

But if you want Log you really need 10Bit which means you need the XAVC Codec, which as you may have heard, yes does need a good computer.

I have an I74710HQ 2.5 GHz, 16 GB Ram, NVIDIA GTX 970M 3GB GDDR5, SSD and 7200 drives etc and with my old GH4 footage I could edit away 5+ layers of video at full quality no worries, with the 10bit XAVC from the FS5 though my PC can only manage 2 layers at full quality and if there's nesting, effects, grade etc involved its best to drop the quality to half or even quarter.

The camera does now shoot proxy recording though which could be a big help. 10bit XAVC to one card, 8bit AVCHD 720 to the other to edit with...? 

Not the end of the world by any means but something to bare in mind. If your editing station is less powerful than what I have listed above you may struggle a bit. The Codec in the FS7 is a lot easier on processor power so if you will need a new PC to edit FS5 footage, but wont for FS7 footage that could be a deciding factor...

Wetransfer link to a few raw native 1080 10bit files, both 25p and 200p

Clear Image Zoom

Now this is just digital zoom really, but with a posh new name. It only works in 1080 ( as in 4K its using the whole sensor and cant zoom in ) But this feature is pretty amazing, I can see me using it a load.

There was no obvious change in quality, focus plane, exposure, depth of field, F stop etc it just doubles your focal length with nice smooth servo zoom, even on a prime lens.

Now with the speed booster Ultra on, and the clear image zoom I get ( All approx ):

24mm F1.4 is now a 24-48mm F1.4 Constant. ( Meta bones quirk with fast primes not displaying correct Fstops )
70-200mm F2.8 is now a 70-400mm F2.
15mm 2.8 fisheye is now a 15mm F2 fisheye to 30mm Wide F2
24-105mm F4 is now a 24-210mm F2.8 Constant.

You get the idea but its pretty useful.

Using the new "clear image zoom" makes my 24-105 F4 ( with speed booster )  a 24-210mm constant F2.8 with IS! That Grey box in the middle of the bottom image is roughly what I can zoom in to with this set up.

Vari ND Filter

This is amazing, its like wizardry coming from the DSLR/Mirrorless camp. Built in, both hard stop NDs in 4 increments, and the new Vari ND that scrolls via a dial on the side smoothly. No bumps, no something swinging in front of the sensor, should make shots going from inside to outside or compensating for the sun coming in and out in interviews much much easier. From 1/4 right up to 1/128 ND
The new Vari ND showing its worth. Bottom of it backed all the way off and top is all the way on. Smooth, no stops etc and fully incremental.

Low light

Slog 2 and 3 are notoriously noisy, and not recommended when shooting in low light so its no real surprise that Slog is ( as far as I have got anyways ) pretty noisy.

The base on the FS5 is ISO 3200 which if you err on the side of over exposure looks great. If you under expose it though your fucked, it looks horrible. ISO wise you can push it up to ISO 25600 in Slog if you expose it well and its usable, Just. Looks like ISO 2000 on my old GH4.

The big shock was when I tried out high ISOs in normal Cine2 picture profile. CLEAN up to 12800 ISO! Honestly look at the photos below, still a really nice flat image that will cut together well with Slog with some grading but ISO performance is pretty amazing. A true low light contender, you just need to get out of Slog.

Cine 2, S Gammut3 colour space high ISO test. 2000 on the left, 3200 in the middle and 12800 on the right. If its dark get out of Log and this camera is pretty amazing.

High ISO test in Slog 3. On the left is base ISO of 3200, in the middle is 25600 and on the right 51200. All OK but Slog only really works at its base ISO. If you need to push that up switch out of LOG.

4K 8bit Vs 1080 10bit 

As you can see below, both look great, both have the same levels of noise, sharpness etc The 8 vs 10bit thing just means anything you shoot in 4K Slog you need to 100% Nail your exposure, or even not shoot Slog so you don't have to pull the weaker image around so much, either way I will no doubt use both frame sizes in this camera, but I got it with the intention of it being a 1080 camera for now, 4K with recorders etc in the future. 

1080 vs 4K, can you tell which is which ? 1080 10bit is the bottom, 4K 8bit the top... if you expose well and don't need to grade much there's not much in it.

Few photos:

Another really good thing about the camera is that with its small size and screen that can change its mounting points, you can get it to all tuck in really neatly allowing it to pack into bags really well.

Screen out in filming mode, and screen tucked away neat and flush with the body.

Screen tucked in from the side, nothing at all touching the business side of the screen, doesn't stick out any more in any direction than the main camera body itself.

My Lowepro Whistler 350 AW all packed up. To get a camera like this, in such a compact and comfortable back pack is great. In this photo is the FS5 ready to pull out and shoot with, all handles, screen and 24-105 lens attached, 24mm, 15mm, 50mm, 70-200mm, spare battery and pouch with radio mics in. As well as point and shoot camera, memory cards etc in the other pockets on the bag. Win Win.

So that's my initial thoughts. Battery life and Bokeh etc are pretty similar to FS700 and FS7 so that's nothing to write about, you all know it. Its small, light and fits neatly into my Lowepro Whistler ( killer bag ) with spare glass, battery's and mics in as well. If you want full specs, un boxing videos etc see youtube or the Sony site here.

We will be shooting some real projects on this in the next few weeks so will put up another blog post with that as soon as they are done.



Tuesday 17 November 2015

Recent work from Sept - Nov

Time to breathe. The last few months have, like most months been pretty flat out here at Aspect Media. We are not complaining about that how ever, its great. Lots of great projects and ideas flying round all the time is just how we like it.

So the last post on this blog was from Whistler BC testing out the new Lowepro Whistler bag, we have now been using it day in day out for months and its still amazing, not skipped a beat. So that's that sorted then.

Since then though we have been far from quiet as this blog would suggest. So here is a quick summary of some of what we have been up to the last few months, still and video wise:

Canyon Bikes - Stitched 720

Aspect Followed the Canyon bikes slope style team round Whistler Crankworx for a week for this video launching there new bike.

EWS Finale Highlights

As you will know if you follow Aspects work we are the official film crew behind the Enduro World Series. It has been an amazing season that saw us get to a load of the best places to ride on the planet and the coverage the team we where part of has gone down really well. Nico Turner on the editing front and Cunny in front of the camera and pulling the strings, here's to 2016!

EWS Life of a Mechanic

Between the rounds of the EWS we put out videos that focus more on the teams and inner workings of the series, for this one that went out the other month we see what the life of a full time race mechanic is like. 

On Track with Curtis Keene

For the last two season RedBull and Boombox have produced the On Track series following EWS racer Curtis Keene. Aspect Media/EWS have had a big part in supplyign the series with footage, over half of the footage in each episode was filmed by Aspect and they are one of the best web series at the moment in our opinion. Great to be involved with it.

RedBull Hardline

Now Aspects hand in this is a small one but it was none the less a great project to be a part of. The camera crew on the event was as you can imagine pretty big with about 20 cameras on the hill, Chris Seager from Aspect Media was one of those camera men, plenty of his shots made it into the final cut. Lets see if it happens next year and pushes the limits even further! 

Epic TV - Under the Radar

In the last few months we put out a few episodes of the UTR series for Epic TV. This episode was with Jasper Flashman. Nice mini doc with someone who lives and breathes bikes. 

Light painting images

Shooting bikes and sports is what we do day to day but stretching our creative legs once in a while is good for the soul, with that in mind I caught up with a few other local photographers and had a good evening of light painting and produced some images that I am really happy with.

Web Shop and Stickers

Last but not least a few weeks ago we launched our web shop. A place where we can sell prints, Canvas's, Tee shirts, stickers and what ever else we end up producing.

Powered by Big Cartel so its super easy to use and secure as it gets, worth a look for presents for those people in your life who love bikes and the outdoors.

Next on the aggenda is more projects for various new and existing clients from Adverts for new 2016 products, photo shoots, events and most crucially the new much over due Aspect Media Show Reel. Expect it this year!

Cheers for reading and keeping up to date with what we are up to and as ever for the most recent news keep an eye on our facebook page here:

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Two weeks with the Lowepro Whistler - A camera bag made for mountains

If you follow Aspect Media on social media or have looked at our website you may have seen the fact we work closely with camera bag manufacturer Lowpro. We help to test their products and give them good honest feed back after giving the products real world abuse, and we don't go easy on gear doing what we do.

As official production company in charge covering the Enduro World Series its literally our job description to take lots of camera gear out in to remote mountainous locations, no matter the weather and often by riding or hiking bikes to get there. We need gear we can trust, trust not to break when we are 2 hours ride from the nearest road.

Before the new Whistler 450AW came along we where using multiple different bags from Lowepro depending on the specific job ( Vertex, Flipside, Photosport, Pro Trekker etc ) and having to pack extra bits and bobs on the outside of packs and while all this worked well we noticed certain things that needed adding to make one bag that was perfect for what we did day to day. This new bag sorts all our thoughts and worries and they have hit the BB out of the bike park with this one.

First off here is a very short video of Chris and myself testing the bag and proving you can ride with it on:

Main features of the bag we love, as both still and video shooters who have to both hike and ride bikes with the bag on are:

  • Large enough to fit in all the gear you will need ( see below )
  • Fully removable camera compartment if you need to use it just as a hiking bag
  • Opens from the back so you don't get you back all muddy putting the bag down on the ground 
  • Heavy duty sturdy clips and zips that don't feel like they will die when you yank them hard
  • All weather cover built in
  • Bag is shower proof without the cover even on
  • Big top, side and front pockets for putting bits and bobs in
  • Front pocket fits a 15" laptop in easy
  • Bladder pocket on the side
  • Waist and Sternum straps and back padding are comfy and breathe well even climbing hills in 35 degrees
  • Orange straps on the front are super strong and can easily clip on tripod/steady cam etc 
  • Small and tourist enough looking to glide through airports and into over head bins on 90% of planes

Way up above Whistler in BC while filming the EWS. Bag fully loaded with the days gear and tripod etc and making easy work of the full on trail. Whistlers famous Tusk in the back ground. Image by Jeremie Reuiller

Packed ready for the day. In here we have 2 bodies, the Canon 5D3 and a Panasonic GH4, 5 canon lens's including the 70-200mm 2.8, 24-105mm, 15mm,50mm and 11-16mm, Flash gun with 2 pocket wizards, radio mics and a rode video mic pro, then in the front pocket all the batteries, cards, cables, ND filter case, cloths, blowers and in the top pocket food, jacket, tools etc

Heading back down the hill with the steady cam strapped on the back and carrying the tripod for speed of getting down the hill, if I was on the bike there is loads of room on there for it. - Photo by Gary Perkin
Chris Seager from Aspect flying down Dirt Merchant with the pack on, with gear in, not just posing!

And again, not small but at the same time as streamlined and slim as it can be to get a body in sideways and not have any issues with pack depth.
We found that with a full face helmet riding jumps or really really steep stuff you had to loosen off the shoulder straps slightly, but the great waist and sternum strap keep it from moving too much, and then it doesn't hit your helmet. Easy!

In the half face XC lid though you can have the thing as high up on your back and tight and comfy as you can and it never hit me in the head in a whole two weeks of riding the bike park and world enduros. First bag that's ever not tried to make me do front flips.

Chilling while shooting some B roll in the USA.The bag its leaning on is our drone bag to give you some idea of size, small enough to not be a pain to carry or travel with but large enough to swallow all your gear.

Another shot proving its not us just saying it, but its a bag you really can get up the mountain ( and down again ) with ease.

So there you have it. A camera bag that does it all. If you bike, hike, ski, board or even ride a horse etc and need to carry a good amount of camera gear is pretty damn perfect. Not something I say lightly, or without testing.

We didn't want to post anything online till we had chance to really put the bag through its paces and now with over two weeks of solid riding and shooting under its belt, I can say 110% that I have found my dream camera bag.

If you guys and girls want to see or know anything else about the bag ( or Aspect as a whole ) leave a comment below and I will edit this post and add it in.



Monday 22 June 2015

Granieri brothers / Maggiora park - FOX Head

Short and sweet post exclusive to this blog thanks to Fox not being ready to release this video on all the main sites just yet. They said we could post it up on here though so enjoy!

The other week I headed out to an amazing MX1 track in Italy just outside Milan to shoot a new video for Fox Head Europe.

It wasn't moto though, Fox/Redbull rider Yannick had been invited to go out and help make a bike park on the site. A few super hard, hot days shooting for this but it came out well. Check out the video below: 

Granieri brothers / Maggiora park - FOX Head from Aspect Media on Vimeo.

Here are a few photos rad photographer Stephane Cande who was out shooting stills all week got of me working away. Excuse the wild tee shirts.

All shot on the GH4. Nice, small and good image. The ND filter got some use in that sun.

Running round like a mad man with the steady cam.

I took out the carbon jib to get some slightly more dynamic shots. Amazing this fits in my suitcase along with my tripod, steady cam, LED light panel and all my clothes, shoes, chargers etc.

Getting up close with the macro lens.

So much golden light.

It was a tough shoot on a tight schedule made even harder thanks to more time than we had planned getting the course running, and it being too hot to ride between 11am and 4pm. So three days shooting riding turned into two evenings. About 6 hours total.

Post was turned around super fast as well so the bike park could show the film on big screens at the MX1 race the following weekend to us shooting this. I worked with a good friend of mine and motion graphics wizard Ed Vosper as well to add in some nice simple text animations and a few little touches here and there.

Few weeks in the office editing some other jobs now before Aspect is back off on the EWS circus. Flat out and loving it at the moment.


Monday 18 May 2015

Stills Portfolio spring update

Every few months or so I update our Stills portfolio of work with new images and the spring 2015 update has just rolled out. Please find it below:

Various new shots from the last few months and a great new layout done by James Webber who designs Wideopenmag.

We have had a pretty full on few months here at Aspect and it isnt showing any signs of slowing down, not complaining one bit! Will get a post up very soon on all of it.



Thursday 12 March 2015

MTBrider Germany cover - behind the shot

Now while getting yet another cover might not be a huge deal for some photographers, for me I'm quietly proud of this one. I have had shots in various magazines for years, loads of articles etc but a cover shot of a big printed magazine has eluded me, that is until now.

A few months back Boris from MTB Rider Germany said that while I was shooting for an article for the mag with Olly Wilkins, if we got a good cover worthy shot he would put it forward for consideration. Me and Olly pretty much heard that and from then on all we really had in our minds was "lets kill it on one shot and we have been promised a cover pretty much!?" haha

The finished article.
So bit of back ground on the spot...

The jump is hidden away in the Surrey hills in the SE of England. Built by Bernard Kerr among a few others its been in various photo and video shoots for a while now, but Olly had an idea that if he hit the main jumps take off, onto a side bank and make it a hip he could get some pretty wild shapes. He wanted the final shot to have him pretty much hanging off the side of the bike, hanny style. That was the only plan, turn up, have a go and see what happened.

So the three shots here ( above and either side ) where the first angle we started shooting. Tried a few lens's from the 24-105, 50mm and 70-200 , tried natural light and some off camera flash.

Flash's where to cameras right pointing at the bottom tube of the bike, and down behind the lip. 

It looked good but lacked that pop and real striking cover worthiness.

After that first angle being a bit normal, I broke out the fish eye and started to try that out. Again using the same flash set up to help pick Olly out of the back ground and to give it some contrast.

Try 2: Angle is right but composition is way off
Try 1: Close but angles not quite there
On the left is the first try with the 15mm 2.8 Canon Fisheye, Good but I needed to move round to the left more so we got his face in, and also closer to the jump so he was higher.

On the right is the second go, much more like it and Ollys position on the bike was what we had been trying to get, I just needed to tweak exposure and nail the composition.

Third time Olly hit the jump with the fish eye on and this is what we got. Finally the image we both had in our head when we turned up an hour earlier. What was also really great on the final cover is how they didn't butcher the shot, they left it very much as it was.

Try 3: The final shot, 3rd try from that angle. 15mm fisheye and 2 off camera flashes.

Cheers MTBrider Germany!

Cheers to Olly for hitting the stinking hip about 50 times and nailing the Moto as hell shape, honestly couldn't of shot with a better rider and Boris from MTBrider Germany for running it as a cover. Here's to the next one!