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HelsinkiZim

Why I am leaving this world behind (a love letter)

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So today was the most frustrating, ridiculous, soul crushing day I have had with a shoot.

I'll explain, but a bit of back story first...

I have been shooting digital video since 1998, professionally (man with a camera stuff e.g. weddings, seminars) since 2005. I have also worked to pay the bills as a producer and sales rep in various tv and video production houses in some parts of the world. My wedding and corporate business was a side gig until this year when I went full time solo for various reasons. I took a break for 3 years circa 2012 to do a master's degree in south Africa and the best camera they had was a hvx200, previously my go to camera was Sony z1.

So when I left Africa and arrived in sunny Helsinki 3 years ago I decided to see what all the DSLR fuss was about now that I was in a first world country.

I joined this forum and perused others, and I fell in love with the community and gear.

When I wrote my business plan for yet another video business venture, I was sure DSLR was the ticket to ride. for the price of a camcorder I could have a studio, with lights et al.

Today I made up my mind that it is not for me.

I had a pretty standard interview which I planned, lit and shot with a gh4 and a micro Cinema Camera as b cam. Yes, I know, but that is not the point.  Matching was not what I was worried about, I have come to know them both very well.

But the endless, finicky bullshit.... Speed boosters, ND filters, v mount batteries, cages, external sound recorder, screws and cables and screws, monitors... 

On top of the standard things you need to be concerned about, like exposure, light and focus... Oh, and the actual bloody interview... Its fucking insane. Excuse my language I am pissed off.

Yes, you could say I need to practice more, but those hours at my rate fiddling with nonsense and fixing mistakes... I may as well have just bought a all around really good camera.

Everything was fine if you do one off jobs, but today was the end of a full week of filming with this apparatus and it is too much for any human to keep track of all the moving parts. Again,, yes you could hire an assistant, but again you may as well invest that money in a camera.

Also, this doesn't include post, and trying to compensate for each cameras numerous ridiculous quirks.

So, in short, I will be investing in a camera in the near future that lets me do my job.

The only things I am now used to is small size. So maybe it's the fs5, I guess I'll see how next year pans out.

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42 minutes ago, HelsinkiZim said:

So today was the most frustrating, ridiculous, soul crushing day I have had with a shoot.

I'll explain, but a bit of back story first...

I have been shooting digital video since 1998, professionally (man with a camera stuff e.g. weddings, seminars) since 2005. I have also worked to pay the bills as a producer and sales rep in various tv and video production houses in some parts of the world. My wedding and corporate business was a side gig until this year when I went full time solo for various reasons. I took a break for 3 years circa 2012 to do a master's degree in south Africa and the best camera they had was a hvx200, previously my go to camera was Sony z1.

So when I left Africa and arrived in sunny Helsinki 3 years ago I decided to see what all the DSLR fuss was about now that I was in a first world country.

I joined this forum and perused others, and I fell in love with the community and gear.

When I wrote my business plan for yet another video business venture, I was sure DSLR was the ticket to ride. for the price of a camcorder I could have a studio, with lights et al.

Today I made up my mind that it is not for me.

I had a pretty standard interview which I planned, lit and shot with a gh4 and a micro Cinema Camera as b cam. Yes, I know, but that is not the point.  Matching was not what I was worried about, I have come to know them both very well.

But the endless, finicky bullshit.... Speed boosters, ND filters, v mount batteries, cages, external sound recorder, screws and cables and screws, monitors... 

On top of the standard things you need to be concerned about, like exposure, light and focus... Oh, and the actual bloody interview... Its fucking insane. Excuse my language I am pissed off.

Yes, you could say I need to practice more, but those hours at my rate fiddling with nonsense and fixing mistakes... I may as well have just bought a all around really good camera.

Everything was fine if you do one off jobs, but today was the end of a full week of filming with this apparatus and it is too much for any human to keep track of all the moving parts. Again,, yes you could hire an assistant, but again you may as well invest that money in a camera.

Also, this doesn't include post, and trying to compensate for each cameras numerous ridiculous quirks.

So, in short, I will be investing in a camera in the near future that lets me do my job.

The only things I am now used to is small size. So maybe it's the fs5, I guess I'll see how next year pans out.

 

I've been there before, messing with loads of bits, batteries and nonsense. 

But like you said, camera like the FS5 offer an all-in-one solution. Simply just add a mic and use an all-round Sony lens, like the 18-105mm kit lens. Use a baked-in look you're happy with. 

Modern lighting is battery powered. Very portable. Loads of options. 

Add a tripod and that's all you need for interviews and things similar. 

Unfortunately, my kind of work requires all these nuts and bolts. I just have to deal with it. ;)

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While Andrew offers a good way to simplify things I think you pose an important question that every professional needs to address. 

The main reason professional cameras cost as much is that they have been optimized for a professional environment and that can mean anything from simplifying the workflow to ergonomics and customization.

Now it should be noted that professional cameras can get equally complex or even more with the extra modules they need (look at zacuto for example) and sometimes a mirrorless consumer camera might offer things that a professional does not have like small size or low light performance & sensor stabilization. 

In the end it is what you need and how much time and money are you willing to spend. And that only you can answer.

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1 hour ago, Andrew Reid said:

Just shoot both in LOG mode and apply the same LUT to both, then tweak any differences.

But here's an even better suggestion... if you want cameras to match, buy two of the same cameras.

The main problem here is it it seems like you have been convinced by online marketing and advertorial that you need all this extra shit.

On the GH4 you don't need a v-mount battery for interviews...

Unless you consider changing the GH4's battery every 7 hours to be an unsurmountable problem.

You also don't need a cage or to attach anything to the GH4 at all, like a shotgun mic.

For interviews you should click a wireless lav mic onto the subject. Not use a mic on the camera.

XLR is also overkill for an interview. 3.5mm jack just fine.

Problem solved.

You also don't need a monitor... the screen on the GH4 is just fine for interviews. Works as well as the screen which comes with the FS5, does it not? It's even a similar size! Guess that solves the cables part as well.

Speed Booster - I fail to see the hassle aspect of that. Attach lens. Film!

ND filters - for an interview? Were you filming it on the surface of the sun?

With such a small amount of movement if it is a locked down shot you wouldn't even notice if it was shot at 1/2000 anyway.

Keep it simple.

Keep it simple and try again.

Relax.

Don't buy a C300.

Thanks Andrew, had to vent. I'm sure I'll be fine tomorrow.

Yes, I spent the extra cash on the iFootage motion system, which was another hassle.

Usually, I am on top of it, today just got to me. Gonna go finish of the second season of Rectify and sleep☺

Edit: i used the NDs because I'm still learning how to use lights properly, so they are a guarantee against if I can't get shallow depth of field with these sensors. This was unfair to list as a problem today, but in general...

By cables I meant for the micro rig, as I power it with v mount due to battery life issues. So that mount powers the monitor too. And I am using the video assist with the gh4, again some might say fell for marketing, but I wanted prores 422 to match better match with micro. Also, as you mentioned in your guide, the gh4 resets some setting after it sleeps, so the video assist goes back to receiving 50p input from HDMI. Which in turn shortened the amount of footage I could record without me knowing I was running out of space, etc. Again, cables for the iFootage and lights shouldn't count as I just haven't invested enough in batteries, and this is top priority. It just all added up.

Rodelink into cam has been to finicky with gain, I.e. I haven't mastered it, so I run it into tascam. Again, learning curve I am not used to re: pretty amps.

If you have any suggestions for easy work arounds to these problems, I am all ears. But I'll try figure them out I suppose.

It was a learning experience, ill leave it at that.

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I think your rant was warranted dude. I feel this way alot about having to deal with ND filters/dual system audio etc. But I'm not able to afford something like a FS5 or anything close. And I like working on a budget so for the ultra low price of my dslr, I guess I just kind of accept the idea that this is NOT a video camera but rather a camera I am MODIFYING for video. Also maybe everything that could go wrong just went wrong that day. Either way. I totally understand your feelings man!

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I get ya that it's frustrating. I hate keeping track of all of that crap too. Gotta agree with Andrew, though. You're making it way more complicated than it needs to be for an interview. That's one of the GH4's strong suits. Simplicity with set ups like that. I go with the GH4 + sennheiser G3 directly plugged in all the time. Battery on GH4 is pretty solid. Screen is good enough for basic interviews. Internal codec is fine for that as well. 

I think sometimes people are too quick to jump on using monitors/cages/recorders when they don't necessarily need to. 

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2 hours ago, Don Kotlos said:

While Andrew offers a good way to simplify things I think you pose an important question that every professional needs to address. 

The main reason professional cameras cost as much is that they have been optimized for a professional environment and that can mean anything from simplifying the workflow to ergonomics and customization.

Now it should be noted that professional cameras can get equally complex or even more with the extra modules they need (look at zacuto for example) and sometimes a mirrorless consumer camera might offer things that a professional does not have like small size or low light performance & sensor stabilization. 

In the end it is what you need and how much time and money are you willing to spend. And that only you can answer.

I agree with you.

If you are running a shoot on our own, you need to reserve some of that mental energy for other things too. A professional camera helps with that. It was just one of those things I had to experience to see clearer (for my needs). 

I stand by the peripheral stuff though, and I spend a long time figuring out my USP, and dynamic movement for cheap was my angle and that approach has been producing great results clients are happy with (re: motion syatem, gimbal and jib). So in a sense, I cannot afford to have a main camera that does work with cheap motion support gear.

So I am going to wait until next year to see what develops. But for now, because my workspace is corporate promos and music videos with lots of movement, I will hold on to the micro for movement/ b cam and perhaps invest in the mini for all around daily grind.

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Jvc LS300 is an excellent little(and cheap) camera. I woupd give it a look.

Also, hiring someone cheap to help you is the most value you can get, he(or she) can come with their own equipment, and you help someone (and the evolution of the industry). 

Even with the state of the industry I described in another post, I try to have us much people involved as possible (second camera and post usually).

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I agree, a C100/C300/F3/FS5 with a fitted pelican case will take away a lot of the stress. At my work we have a fitted case for the 4 Light Panels, and 2x 300ii. This makes it extremely difficult to forget or misplace items. 

16 hours ago, Andrew Reid said:

For interviews you should click a wireless lav mic onto the subject. Not use a mic on the camera.

XLR is also overkill for an interview. 3.5mm jack just fine.

You also don't need a monitor... the screen on the GH4 is just fine for interviews. Works as well as the screen which comes with the FS5, does it not? It's even a similar size! Guess that Don't

buy a C300.

3.5 is maybe fine for wild sound or some cheap doc work, but not if the client is paying you a good day rate and expecting quality. Always boom the subject as well, wireless mics are great but a boom is always more solid. 

Depending on how many interviews you shoot, the C100/C300 could be a game changer for you. I couldn't imagine doing the amount of interviews I do on shoots without the tools and features that the C300ii offers.

I know that you can get great images with smaller cameras. I love the pocket camera, one of my favorite images ever, but the amount of work it takes to build it up is just too risky and too much of a headache.

The right camera for the job. Interviews. Canon C series is hard to beat.

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16 hours ago, HelsinkiZim said:

Thanks Andrew, had to vent. I'm sure I'll be fine tomorrow.

It's all fixable! Don't worry about anything.

Also you are not leaving anything behind just because you might switch from DSLR to a pro camera.

EOSHD is about both and I was an FS5 owner earlier this year.

I just prefer small cameras, for me they are LESS complicated and get out of the way of the artist, far more so than a big complicated cinema camera beast.

Quote

Edit: i used the NDs because I'm still learning how to use lights properly, so they are a guarantee against if I can't get shallow depth of field with these sensors. This was unfair to list as a problem today, but in general...

Variable ND or standard?

Quote

By cables I meant for the micro rig, as I power it with v mount due to battery life issues. So that mount powers the monitor too.

V-lock power is a major pain in the arse for pro cameras too not to mention having a heavy brick to haul around on the back of your not so mini URSA MINI

GH4 is much more simple.

Blackmagic were on the right track with the Cinema Camera and Pocket Camera, but they never got the internal battery side sorted out... the cameras were too hungry for juice, lacking the economical processors and sensor of the Panasonic 4K mirrorless cameras.

Not much has changed with the URSA Mini and on the RED / Arri side it is the same too.

One of the reasons why the C300 was so popular for day jobs... easy on the power, easy to power, easy to carry anywhere without so much hassle.

You might try investigating the C100 Mark II with Dual Pixel AF if you want total convenience and everything built in.

Quote

And I am using the video assist with the gh4, again some might say fell for marketing, but I wanted prores 422 to match better match with micro.

External ProRes 422 is always meh because the HDMI is heavily compressed, not real 422, not real 10bit in my opinion.

The next step up from 4K 100Mbit 4:2:0 internal is the 500Mbit 4:2:2 MJPEG on the 1D C and 1D X Mark II, then you have to step up to RAW.

When I use ProRes it is only in transcoding after the shoot to get files that edit smoother in 4K. XAVC-S and H.264 can be quite heavy going when you start grading them in Premiere and having multiple tracks going.

Quote

Also, as you mentioned in your guide, the gh4 resets some setting after it sleeps, so the video assist goes back to receiving 50p input from HDMI.

Another reason to keep things simple and not bother with ProRes externally.

Quote

If you have any suggestions for easy work arounds to these problems, I am all ears. But I'll try figure them out I suppose.

It was a learning experience, ill leave it at that.

Keep the GH4, lights and NDs, dump the Pocket Cinema Camera and extra power / monitors.

Simply the shoot so you can concentrate on the content.

Stop down the lens for easier focus and maybe see if you still need NDs when you have lit for a slower aperture like F2.8 or F5.6.

Interviews rely on good sound so keep going with the Rode gear. It's very good quality stuff.

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SIMPLIFY YOUR GEAR!  Seductive idea.

Just now I am looking for a new camera. I'd really like it to be a camcorder, but unfortunately some of my must-have features are only onboard the heavier and more expensive models. Price and size are both the reasons why I still keep thinking about hybrids and trying to 'reduce them to the maximum'. 

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You can simplify only so much. Having done a few interviews as a one man band I like having a couple of audio options - wireless into camera, plus XLR into separate recorder. There's too much going on when you are running by yourself so mistakes are more likely and if I'm totally reliant on a single setup there's no redundancy. I can set and forget the separate XLR system, leaving it to run throughout, then concentrate on getting the camera and wireless audio up and running. If I need to switch the camera off at any stage, the separate audio is still running and can pick up useful dialogue that can still be used with cut aways or B roll. Having only one camera, or one audio source seems a little lean to me if you are getting paid to come up with the goods.

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I know im on the minority, but I only use camera + lens.

I dont use tripods/monopodes/gimbals/NDs/cages and so on. I never really felt the need to, I might use light in some situations (an interview for example) but thats it.

Dont get stuck on how others do things, that you feel a need to do it the same way. There is no wrong or right, use whatever you have, but keep it simple.

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People didn't try to do everything on their own in the professional video field of old.

For interviews it would be a team

A sound guy, a camera man and the actual interviewer.

If you're doing all 3 jobs and find it hard, no shame in that... it IS hard

Being a camera technician on top of the other 3 roles is just too much.

Get an Ice Light 2, keep the GH4, keep the tripod and lav, dump the rest.

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2 hours ago, Andrew Reid said:

People didn't try to do everything on their own in the professional video field of old.

For interviews it would be a team

A sound guy, a camera man and the actual interviewer.

If you're doing all 3 jobs and find it hard, no shame in that... it IS hard

Being a camera technician on top of the other 3 roles is just too much.

Get an Ice Light 2, keep the GH4, keep the tripod and lav, dump the rest.

I think that is sound advice, thanks!

However, some stuff is just too much fun to ditch, like the gimbal and ifootage slider (the  pan tilt head was an admitted mistake). I am not ashamed to admit I rely on them to lift the narrative of my corporate work  - even though everyone insists the  story and content is more important (which I  agree  with), I want both. 10 years ago I used to be so envious of companies  using motion tools  and now they are  finally at a point where they  are reasonably priced to invest in for rhe type of stuff I do. I dont sell movement to clients, I just suprise them  with that  little extra that they may not get elsewhere. however, I do make sure my  ideas are on point before I choose the tool,  not  the other way  round.

This all reminds me that im in that right field, because as you  mention  its hard work and you need  to  love this gig to go through  this and I  geuss I  do.

Marco Pierre  White always says.... "perfection  is doing lots of  little thigs  well."

Thats what I tell myself every morning im packing all this  nonsense  into a bag and going to war with these overpriced, finicky  but lovable creative tools.

 

 

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