Friday, June 7, 2019

And now for something rather different

For some while now, I have been, as a member, working with the Manchester Indie Film Makers Group, a volunteer group based at Manchester Central Library, filming (no sound) in our small studio in Chorlton scenes for "Six Million Voices", about the diary of Anne Frank.

The Programme for Six Million Voices 
performed at Manchester Central Library, 1 June 2019

This film has been set to the music of Chris Williams, a local composer, who has been working on her Anne Frank project (with the knowledge and permission of the Anne Frank FRONS in Switzerland) for some years. Nigel Anderson has brought the footage and music together, much of it filmed against a green screen or a black screen, creating the appropriate backgrounds.

"Six Million Voices" was performed for the first time on 1st June 2019 in the Performance Space at Manchester Central Library in front of the Lord Mayor of Manchester and an invited audience of about 110 people. Lasting about an hour, the film was supported by a live speaker for Anne Frank's voice, Sheney Bridge (aged 12).

The whole production was received well, and now the Manchester Indie Film Makers Group is looking for other venues to perform this production, potentially in local churches, theatres and schools.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Handling the DJI Ronin-S 3-Gimbal Stabiliser

In my previous blog, I talked about the DJI Ronin-S which has made a big difference to my filming life, particularly when filming on the move.

But one of the aspects of such filming is the weight of the equipment involved, including the stabiliser itself and the various items that often have to be attached to it in addition to the camera and microphone. The additional equipment may include a 7" video monitor, sound recorder and lapel microphone sound receiver. The total weight of all of these can amount to about 6kg (13lb) which is significant if you are filming on the move for a significant amount of time, say during a continuous take of several minutes. Those arms can become very tired, although they do build up additional strength with time!

I have been testing out the DF DigitalFoto Spider Clamp Mounting Plate with Strap, designed specifically for the Ronin-S and the Crane 2. Here is a short video on the subject.

The device, consists of a Mounting Plate which is bolted to the Ronin-S and an easy to clip on strap to attach to the plate.

The strap goes over the left shoulder and back round under the right arm, securing the complete assembly to the camera operator, so that it does not fall away.

Some care needs to be taken to avoid obstructing access to the Ronin-S controls, such as the focus wheel, record button etc.

The outcome of the testing is that I am pleased with the device which does help with the problem, but as with all things, you have to become familiar with using it.

Monday, February 25, 2019

It has been a while ....

It has been quite a while since I posted to this blog - over 2 years, during which time a lot has happened.

I have been filming quite a large number of interviews for WarGen (see the last blog), approaching 30 of them and I have been helping the Manchester Indie Film Makers Group (based at Manchester Central Library) to make their latest production for a live audience, Six Million Voices, in June of this year.

But singly the most interesting piece of gear that I have obtained is a 3 gimbal stabiliser for filming on the move, the DJI Ronin-S purchased soon after it came on the market, last Summer. This piece of equipment complete with a focus control attached to it has made a major difference to my filming life, enabling stable footage to be achieved while on the move, backwards, forwards, you name it! And most importantly, the ability to focus pull at the same time. My Lumix GH4 camera is not best known for its smooth autofocus abilities, so this is a very important feature.

This picture shows a typical rig of the equipment with one of my trusty GH4 cameras. There is a stereo microphone mounted on the camera's frame, and a sound recorder mounted together with a wireless receiver. In this case, we were filming a short interview, the subject moving forwards and the camera moving backwards, maintaining a more or less constant distance between them. The stereo mike provides some depth of sound while the lapel mike provides a clear voice from the interviewee.

Chris Burton walking the corridors of Manchester Central Library 
while talking to camera.
Often, I have a 7" monitor mounted on the Ronin-S as well as this gives a much better screen for manual focus.

This is not light equipment for continuous filming, probably weighing in all 5 or 6 kilos depending on what is on board, so you need to develop strength in your arms.

But more about that another time.