Holiday Gift Guide 2018 – Part 3! Let’s Talk Video

OK, the first item up is what I believe is the gear purchase of the year:
Gimbals!
Why is it the gear of the year?
WE ALL NEED SMOOTH FOOTAGE!!!
The Drone has been dominating the new gear of previous years, it’s true.
As a commercial producer, I know the uses of a solid pro drone, and the shots you can get like no other. That is when we are putting on a RED or Alexa to the drone.
For the enthusiast, the current licensing and restrictions for use, have limited the out of the box enjoyment. Forget cities.
And even in personal videos, the footage has limited uses. You can just see so many drone shots. For real estate and large acreage properties, they have their function.
Overall we know Smooth footage is where it’s at.
Even when you walk with a gimbal, you’ll get shots that look like you laid down some track and had a dolly. Seriously, in my ad agency, just saw some footage like that tonight.
That’s where the gimbal comes in.

Maybe you are using a smartphone and know that that small unit will reveal every shake of your hands. Go for the Zhiyun Smooth 4. The collaboration with Filmic Pro app for video shooting on smartphones puts a very robust film making tool in your hands.

or DJI Osmo 2.

Both gimbals use Filmic Pro as well as their own proprietary software. The Zhiyun comes with a mini tripod to help when you stabilize and give extra gripping area. DJI OSMO 2 requires a separate base purchase. And both can use a GoPro to increase the usage options.

Using a bigger camera? How about you step up to the Weebill Lab for mirrorless, or Crane 3 for DSLR. This is the kind of gear you should own. Period. End of story.
At about $600 for the Weebill Lab, this will improve the quality for your videos, is light enough for travel, and balances with ease. A full review is forthcoming.

New features include ability to use your phone as a monitor, available compact follow focus, or zoom control. Get the creator kit for follow focus motor, and the smart phone holder.
By the way, if you watch any press conferences, you’ll see the gimbal is coming around for the journalist as well. Maybe jockeying for position is better when you come out with smooth footage!
To be honest, I’m still using the Crane 2, which is avail for great prices, including a follow focus motor.

It is important to note the weight with gimbals. For instance, the Ronin-S, a great product, weights 1lb more, than the Zhiyun Crane 2. Important info when you will be holding this for long periods of time.
All of these gimbals will work with whatever cam you have, for a basic performance. Certain cameras will be enhanced based on software on the gimbal. Check your model for compatibility.

Remember, audio is 50% of your project, Unless it’s bad, then it’s 80%!
There are so many ways to go, and here is just an inexpensive way to up your run and gun production. That is a Rode VideoMicro.

A small, directional mic that fits on your camera and takes up little room.
Well priced, and one of those items that should always be in your bag. Comes with the wind screen, and mounting for your cameras hot shoe.
For lavs, I go Sanken, or Tram-50, and then you have so many choices on shotgun mics, depending on your budget and quality of sound. For handheld, the choice I would recco is the Electro-Voice RE50B – Omnidirectional Dynamic Shockmounted ENG Microphone.
If you can, go to a brick and mortar store and discover the sound room to listen to the different qualities of the mics.

In the action camera realm, the new GoPro Hero Black 7 is well worth the price. At about $400, the improved image stabilization is a huge help, especially in a small camera.

Honestly, couple it with a Smooth 4 gimbal and you have a great action rig, that will deliver smooth, solid action footage.
Being waterproof, you can take this on the holiday vacation! Vertical mode is avail so your social posts will be mobile friendly.
Battery life is still meh, especially if you use all the features: monitor, stabilization, 4K, etc.
Amazon has some great deals, and picking up a pack of 3 with a charger will be under $30.
Currently Go Pro is including a $50 micro SD card with your purchase, and that’s a pretty good deal.

So many tripods to choose from, and once again, as a gift this gets specific to video gear used, and situations.
One thing that will always be needed is a good monopod with a fluid head.
Manfrotto XPro monopod with 500 series fluid head. When you have no room to stretch your tripod legs, need all the capabilities of a smooth pan and tilt, this is the unit.

It’s become a classic, and you can’t miss with giving this monopod to your favorite videographer.( is it you?)
Picture next to it is a Sirui monopod. What I like about this one is that it’s only 14 ins long! And the carbon fiber legs make it a great light weight choice. Add a small video head, or ball head, and you are nimble!
PLEASE NOTE: SIZES ARE NOT RELATIVE TO EACH OTHER IN THE PHOTO!!

Last for the really great video gift, is a monitor from Atomos.
A big purchase, but how much do you love your favorite videographer?

Highly recommend this unit, and all of the Atomos products.
Gonna be a bit lazy here, but here is a perfect description of what this does for you:
Eliminate your camera’s internal compression and time limits – record up to 4Kp60 10-bit HDR video direct from your camera’s sensor over HDMI 2.0. Teamed with a 1TB AtomX SSDmini you can now achieve up to 150 minutes of 4K recording on a single drive! And when you’re done, your edit-ready ProRes and DNxHR recordings are stored on affordable SSD drives.FEATURES:HDR/SDR – The Ninja V displays 10+ stops of dynamic range in realtime from Log/ PQ/HLG signals. See your images clearly in daylight on the near edge-to-edge anti-reflection screen.Compact Monitor Recorder – The new Ninja V features a stunningly bright 5.2” 10-bit HDR monitor with an astounding 1000 nits of output. The sleek aluminium body is crafted for maximum durability, weighing in at just 320g and measuring only 25mm thick.Playback – AtomOS allows accurate set up and one-touch operation, ensuring a great recording every time. Of course, a recording isn’t complete until checked; Ninja V allows instant playback, slow motion and frame-by-frame analysis for immediate review.Record 4K HDR Gaming – Ninja V is a stand-alone system for 4k UHD, HDR and high frame rate capture that eliminates expensive, complicated and unreliable PC setups. Ninja V enables simple recording, monitoring and instant review. Capture every detail in HDR and automatically include all the correct HDR flags ready for upload to YouTube.SSD Made Mini – Atomos has worked closely with their drive partners at Angelbird and Sony to bring you the AtomX SSDmini. These tiny drives are only 7mm high and 80mm long. They retain the same SATA III connector as traditional SSDs and they are backward compatible with our range of Ninja, Shogun and Sumo devices.Great Sound – Like all Atomos Monitor/Recorders, Ninja V enables audio input directly from your camera. CABLE – The Atomos Right-Angle Micro to Full HDMI Coiled Cable (11.8-17.7 In.) has right-angled micro connector for use with the Ninja recorder.

You will need to buy SSD drives, and I’d say some Sony LP batteries, or a D-Tap connector for your larger batts.
This is a right rig.

So we could go on and on, but this should give you some good ideas in the video realm, with units to work in most situations.

Oh, did I mention Premiere Pro for editing software? OK, I just did!

Holiday Gift Guide 2018 – Part 2! Bags, Bags, Bags!

How many camera bags do you own?
Honestly, you just need to a bag that’s right for the occasion. Yep, you will need more than 1!
A new category on the scene is the Weekender type.
Half backpack luggage, half camera bag. There have been 2 main bags that have come to us in this group.
Are they the first in concept? Nope. However, they are the first to bring a modern look to the bag.


Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L
This bag from the fastest growing camera bag company hits all the marks. From a removable camera gear insert,
to newly designed clothing packing cubes, and a great tech pouch to store your cables, batts, and small items (see below), you will make any photographer happy with this. Those packing cubes and other pouches are available separately, so you can pick them up for general use.



It seems to be a weekend camera bag, and the company has designed clothes packing cubes, and even a toiletries pouch to go full into this combo range. Shown above it the tech pouch, which you will want to get no matter what bag you have! The Traveler 45L has a ton of hidden features. Use as backpack, handled bag, and customize the insides to suit your needs. Will be about $300. Oh, and finally Peak Design has a outside water bottle holder!

And another key entry into this category is the Mission Workshop Integer Camera Bag.

The Mission Workshop Integer, goes a slightly different way, than the Peak Design entry It does have a camera gear insert, although you won’t be taking it out. Access to the gear is easy though, and it’s well protected. Great tripod carrying system. Roll top entry, with a zipped divider to separate the gear insert.

Made in the USA, built tough and waterproof. It’s a bit pricey. but this will last you a very long time. Check out their site for add-ons. The system is sweet. About $485.

ThinkTank has such a large range of bags designed by photographers, that anything you gift someone from this collection will be a winner.
One bag that I have found useful around town, is the StreetWalker with wheels.

As a bag the size of an overnight suitcase, with backpack straps AND wheels, the versatility is obvious. It’s a workers case, and has been a solid go-to running around to gigs in NYC. Yes, the backpack straps fold in, and away!
For the traveling photographer on your list, the SKB/ThinkTank Collaboration is an airplane regulation size for overhead compartments.

The beauty of this one is that there is a ThinkTank backpack, fitted to a Hard case. Point is that IF you ever can’t get into the overhead, and the airline forces you to check the bag, (and I have had that happen), rest assured your kit is safely protected by a hard case.
I always pack 2 TSA locks into that bag just in case.
So fly, get to your destination, and take out your fully packed backpack of gear and go! I’ve used video gear ,could go DSLR, and a full 2 body, mirrorless set-ups in the rig. Not at the same time.

For the walkabout around town, some good choices are the Peak Design Sling,not new, but still a great option,

or the ThinkTank Retrospective.

The Retrospective has just had a design upgrade, and the soft flap makes it easy to get into the gear. Full review soon to be posted.Check out the video below for more details. A full review is comong

A friend who owns one the best bag companies out there told me he’s brand agnostic. Use what works right for you.
As a gift, it could be like buying someone a pair of shoes: do they like the fit and the style? Just keep the receipt!

More gift guide to come!

Holiday Gift Guide 2018 – Part 1!

And here we go!
This year we are going to start on the small side. Things that help you do what you love most. And ANY photographer will find as a useful gift.
Links to purchase/read more are in the name and the photo.
First up:
Platypod

This simple, ingenious, mounting plate should be in everyones camera kit. As a sturdy platform for mounting your camera, or speedlight, you will absolutely find multiple uses for this unit.
Sold in 2 sizes, the Ultra for Mirrorless, to a MAX for the DSLR users.
With countersunk holes for screws or nails, a looping design to strap to pole, and balancing legs, which can be flat or spiked, there is a 3/8 screw already on it.
I like being able to put a ball head on it, for a great low angle shot. I suggest you pick up the accessory kit fro some good extras: 3/8>1/4 screw mount, extender rod to raise the height, non skid material for placing on slick surfaces and more. Yes, it does come with a good bag to hold all of the parts. You are seeing it above, using the extender for a speedlight.

Splat

From Miggo, a company that has been know for waterproof camera bags, this cool little bendable tripod is perfect for your smartphone. Folds flat, wraps around most round things, or shapes to the surface you may be dealing with, whether uneven, or curved. Comes with phone and go-pro mounts. And of course, standard 1/4-20 for your point and shoot needs.

Hitcase



Want to surface snorkel with your phone? Don’t want the bulky waterproof cases or the ziplock options?
This case just works. I took it on a solo trip to Kauai, with 2 snorkel runs a day!
Being solo, I was concerned about leaving an expensive phone on the beach.
With this case, not only was I able to shoot underwater, but I could post immediately!
It also has become just a great case for protection.

Lume Cube

Speaking of underwater, the HitCase has mounting rails to add things, Like the simple and powerful Lume Cube. (see photo above)Light up the underwater, OR shed light on your extreme sports phone shoot.
This little light source is waterproof to 100ft, and now comes with a ton of modifiers to hep you shape the light. The main modifiers for me were the diffusers, as the light straight out can be harsh.You do need a special housing to add the magnetic modifiers.

Another item that should be in the kit. Especially if you also use a GoPro, ever.
They have a new set of snoots and barn doors, which it seems those who work in miniature or macro photography will love.

And just announced is the new Lume Cube Air
Only waterproof to 30 ft as opposed to 100 with the unit above. It does come with 2 diffusers, and is $10 less expensive. Not for drones, as it has a magnet in the housing.

The best wrist strap I have ever used, and I’ve tried a TON of them, is the Spiderlite wrist strap.

The most comfortable, even after hours of shooting with it, secure, adjustable, and looks good too. Seriously, if you want to gift this, or just get them for your cameras, this will not disappoint.

Another affordable addition to anyone’s camera bag is the ThinkTank Emergency Rain Cover.

A simple, well made. brilliant design, that will save you in the sudden weather shifts we have all experience. Wish i had it when shooting a concert at an outdoor venue last summer. Wasn’t released yet! Got caught in the rain, and had to kep lowering the camera and covering wth my bag flap. Know I missed some shots. Comes in 2 sizes, depending on what lens you may be shooting with. med or large.

LensPen-

Everyone needs this. I have one in each and every case.
If you are looking for a perfect stocking stuffer, or small gift, this is it. One end has a camel hair soft brush, and the other has a more robust lens cleaning pad.
Looks like a thick pen, complete with clip. Even if you just wear glasses, this will keep em’ clean!

Do you use an Apple watch?
Catalyst, The company that came out with the silicone AirPod cases last year, has designed a great bumper for your Apple Watch.

This fits seamlessly over your watch and adda great extra bit of protection for your watch face.Knobs, and buttons ensure being able to access all functions on your watch. Specific to models so check it out.
Once it went on, I have never taken it off.

So there you have it for Part 1! More parts coming as we ramp it up! PLUS-late entries we just got into our hands to tell you about. Some great tools that could stocking stuffers, or a great, small gift for yourself.

Latest News from Adobe MAX – My Favorite New Addition to The Creative Suite

Do you post to social media much?
Yeah, I know the answer. On the daily. Probably multiple times in a day.
Adobe has now introduced one of the best, time saving tools you can get!
With a cross platform, intuitive editing tool, you just got some extra sleep, or the time to create more content.
Say hello to Premiere Rush:
Create and Share Online Videos Anywhere with All-New Premiere Rush CC

OK, why so good?
One thing that I know that we all spend time on is making sure the format and codec for your video is right, to push it out to all social media platforms. And that takes time!
With Premiere Rush, you are set with simple control!

You can start your edit in the field on your tablet or phone, and continue in your office on your laptop or desktop. OR just publish from the field to multiple platforms.
And there was one other feature that will save you buckets of time, and that is in the audio sphere.
You know when you add some music track to your vid, and you spend loads of time raising and lowering the volume so it doesn’t interrupt your brilliant narration?
There is a new feature called Auto-Ducking, which thanks to Adobe Sensei, will automatically balance the tracks so the music “ducks” below the narration at appropriate times.
Now THAT alone is a major time saver.
There are a ton of new enhancements to the Adobe Creative Suite apps being announced today, but this one, IMHO, is massive, and will go directly into my workflow.
How much?
Premiere Rush CC is available for $9.99/month to individuals, $19.99/month to teams, and $29.99/month to enterprise customers. Premiere Rush CC is also included as part of Creative Cloud All Apps, Premiere Pro CC single app, the Student plan, and comes with100 GB of CC storage. Additional storage options, up to 10 TB, are also available for purchase.
Premiere Rush CC Starter Plan: Available for free, the Starter plan gives customers access to all Premiere Rush CC features, use of desktop and mobile apps, and the ability to create an unlimited number of projects and export up to three projects.
Give it a spin, and I’m sure you’ll find that the $10 a month is well worth it!
Now, this is just one of the new deals in the Suite:
(may have to buy an iPad Pro!)

head on over to Adobe Max to see all for the latest news.

Your Next Purchase For Mobile FilmMaking

The quality of smartphone video is steadily increasing. 4K? You bet. Log files? ok-dokey.
The tools you now have at your disposal allow you to enter into the immediacy of social media, as well as longer form storytelling. But you need some mobile specific filmmaking tools, along with a great story and direction, to fully realize the potential.
A small camera, once moving, will reveal every bit of shake, no matter how steady you think you are.
Have a look at what autuer Michel Gondry did (yes, the director of The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) with iPhones:
Yep, all on iPhone. The 7 actually. (this is just the trailer, for the 11 min. video)

And a behind the scenes clip:

One of the best tools out there is the Zhiyun Smooth 4, coupled with the FilmicPro app.

You can see the Filmic Pro app in use in the above clip of capturing night scenes with an iPhone.
At about $120 USD for this, you can’t go wrong. This is a tool you really have to add to your kit.
This gimbal is a well built tool with powerful motors, to keep your phone vids steady, and coupled with the app, give you a full mobile filmmaking toolbox.
One of the features I love about this unit is the Wheel. you can simply use it to zoom, or focus, and thanks to the app, mark your point of shifting either.Some other units use a sliding circle deal, but the wheel just feels better for those functions. There does seem to be a bit of latency in the response time, but with practice, you will be able to adjust your moves for that.
You can use this in a horizontal or vertical mode, which is best for FB Live or other mobile uses.
Balancing is pretty easy, but even with being close, once turned on the powerful motors kick-in, and do the work. I also take a snap of the settings an placements to ease the deal.
I did find that the grip was good for holding for a long time, and having the tripod stand was a huge addition.
One of the best parts of the tripod unit is for doing time lapse, motion lapse, or vlogging.

The unit itself does not have a “selfie” mode, but the software takes care of that easily.
Connecting with BlueTooth was fast and easy with either app.
The integration between the Smooth4 and the Filmic Pro App is seamless.
That said, there are some things on the Zhiyun App I like, but I’ll stick with the one app.
Take the time to work with each app and learn the depth of it.
The Smooth 4 will do everything you need to physically control the phone.
One thing I’m always asking is whether or not I need to remove the case to mount the phone.
Nope.
All works.
The ZY app still has some great features that you may want to use. There are present scene choices, under the camera setting, that include pano with auto stitching, motion time lapse, where you can pick multiple points and the camera will create a moving time lapse, slo-mo, and vertigo. You do have to make a choice of which app, when you connect,
here are some screen grabs of the ZY app:


I suggest trying both apps, to see what you want to get out of them. Honestly, I will use the ZY app for some things, and the Filmic Pro for the main.

Filmic Pro, for true manual control of your phone, and ZY for a bit more auto settings.

The tripod stand also uses a 1/4-20 and is removable to break down for smaller footprint transport.
Because of that, you can put the gimbal onto a tripod, for more stability, or for reach, an extension pole.
Battery life is about 12 hours. It keeps going, and going. And uses USB-C for charging the unit, cable included. There is an on-board option for charging your phone as well.
The company does have a love of the Vertigo effect, so named from an Alfred Hitchcock move. Basically a lens zoom with a camera pullback.


Easily done with this unit, and it’s a feature of the ZY software, if you choose to use that app

The case supplied is a good styrofaom case, and although it’s great for storage, I do not use it. This gimbal is well built, and putting it right into a camera bag, or backpack, works just fine.

There is a front rocker switch that uses a series of top or bottom presses to activate certain functions. Learn them.
As much as we all like to get a product out of the box, charge it, and use it without looking at a manual, I’d encourage you to check out the tutorials. Some are good, some are marginal, but if you watch a bunch you will glean the info to get the most out of the unit.
And truth be told, this is my second Zhiyun gimbal. I started with the Crane 2, for a larger camera, and was impressed by the build and ease of use.
Knew this would be a great trade show floor option for my needs, and went for it.

Basically, this gear is well built, has strong motors, and comfortable design elements for long day of usage. As i mentioned the battery life, at about 12 Hours, is more than enough.
As you can tell by this post, the Apps have a lot to do with your video success. Take the time, Try each. More video on youtube than guide you through.
Here is one tutorial on Filmic Pro tutorial.

Michel Gondry is represented by Partizan Films

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Upcoming Events

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Let us know on twitter.

Current Exhibitions

  • Yossi Milo Gallery
  • African Spirits Group Exhibition
  • July 11 – August 23, 2019
  • New York, NY 10001
  • 245 Tenth Avenue
  • p. 212-414-0370
  • Annenberg Space for Photography
  • CONTACT HIGH: A VISUAL HISTORY OF HIP-HOP
  • APR 26, 2019 – AUG 18, 2019
  • 2000 Avenue of the Stars, #10
  • Century City, CA. 90067
  • Tel: 213.403.3000
  • Getty Center
  • Oscar Rejlander
    Through June 9th, 2019

  • 1200 Getty Center Drive
  • Los Angeles, CA. 90049
  • Tel: 310-440-7300
  • Howard Greenberg Gallery
  • BRUCE DAVIDSON, SUBJECT: CONTACT
  • Nove 14,2018- March 2, 2019
  • 41 East 57th Street, Suite 1406
  • New York,NY 10022
  • Tel: 212-334-0100
  • Peter Fetterman Gallery
  • CHILD: A CELEBRATION
  • March 2 – September 6, 2019
  • Through Sept 6th, 2019
  • 2525 Michigan Avenue Gallery A1
  • Santa Monica, CA
  • 90404
  • Phone: 310.453.6463

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