Behringer DM12 Augmented Reality Launch!

I was DOP/Producer and editor for a video production for the launch of the Behringer DM12 augmented reality interface. The launch of this amazing new technology was planned for the Sheffield SynthFest event.

SynthFest is an annual event for synth enthusiasts. The event features new developments in technology from all the major manufacturers, and many of the smaller, emerging companies. I was tasked with demonstrating the interface through video and collecting opinions and first thoughts of users of the interface.

Production

The Behringer stand allocation was small, around 8 ft wide and 4 ft deep on a busy thoroughfare. There was limited space for lighting and cables due to H&S concerns. We needed to fit two synths, a computer and two sets of Hololens kit along with about 10 people into the tiny space. I managed to squeeze in a Litepanels Astra LED panel behind the synths but that was about it for the lighting.

The camera I used was a Canon C100 Mk2 with Canon 24-105 L series lens. The camera was built onto a hand-held rig, and audio from the interviews was captured with the Rode NTG-3 shotgun mic and Sennheiser EW-100 wireless hand-held mic. Interviews were conducted by the synth developers and I manned the camera. There were some challenges with the house lighting, as there always are in venues such as this. In the roof were the dreaded daylight fluorescent mixed with some tungsten lighting as well. White balance is always a challenge, as is matching up the Litepanels Astra.

We wanted to shoot people using the interface but this posed a problem in that unless someone wears a Hololens, you do not see the interface. We solved this issue by another person hooking in to the system with an additional Hololens. The second Hololens would view the first user of the interface (and synth) and be able to see the same output. This feed was then recorded into the system at fairly low bit-rate and 720p due to the limitations of the system. The resultant footage would then be edited into the final production later.

This may all sound a little confusing so I had better explain a little about the interface. The Behringer DM12 is a complex analogue/digital synthesizer that may be controlled from the front panel, by an external computer or tablet, or with the newly developed augmented reality interface. The AR interface projects the controls of the synthesizer into the field of vision of the user when wearing a Hololens. The user may then gesture with their hands in mid-air to alter the controls, and thus affecting the sounds of the synth, and the sequencer controls. It’s all quite Star Trek really, and just like sunshine indoors, it’s the future.

Behringer DM12 augmented reality interface

Pete Sadler is the top dog of the Behringer Dm12 development team and he introduces the video, followed by the opinions of various unsuspecting “synth fiddlers” that we captured throughout the day. During shooting we were collecting some great feedback re the interface and some good sound bites to use later.

Post Production

In the edit suite this was a fairly straightforward edit. The developers got the Hololens footage to me asap and that was up-scaled from 720p to match the 1080p of the Canon output. Then it was just a case of picking the best interview snippets and matching up the Hololens outputs of that particular user. Overall I was happy with the result with the Canon performing really well once again, producing a lovely image. The edit was live within a day.

Behringer DM12 Patch Demonstration Video

As an additional production, I needed to shoot a synth patch demonstration by Ben Crosland. Ben had been commissioned to produce a whole bank of patches that would be shipped with synth when it hit the shelves. I wanted the audio to be as pure as possible so took a stereo output from the synth on 1/4 inch jacks into the two XLR inputs of the Canon C100 and set to line level. Ben jumped in front of the keyboard and demonstrated the patches while I hit record – simple. Later on I would shoot the synth panel in studio conditions and overlay this in the edit so that viewers had a clear view of which patch Ben was demonstrating.

Check out our post featuring JD73 playing the synth

JD73 & The Behringer DeepMind 12 Video Production

Whilst taking care of all UK and some European video output for Behringer, I acted as director of photography, camera operator, producer and editor for a shoot to launch the new Deep Mind 12 synthesizer.

The idea behind this particular shoot was to get away from the standard, “hands on the keyboard – listen to this” demo that is usually found on YouTube. We wanted to demo the synth in a real band situation to emphasize the versatility of the synth.

Planning

Pete, who leads the development team already had a contact in Dan Goldman aka JD73, a prolific jazz/funk keyboardist extraordinaire from Leeds. Dan could bring in his band: Hamlet Luton – Bass, Johnny Heyes – Guitar and Erroll Rollins – Drums. The lads would be performing one of Dan’s tracks.

So now it was just a case of finding the right venue. I knew in my head how I wanted it to look, and I also knew that I wanted a studio setting. I set about finding the right one and remembered a contact I had from a previous shoot with Maximo Park and their engineer, Andy Hawkins. Andy had a studio in Leeds called “The Nave” so I checked it out online:

http://www.navestudios.com/

Bare brick, exposed beams, velvet curtains, wooden floors, Indian rugs and every classic, valuable piece of vintage music gear you could imagine. – Absolutely perfect!

Andy is a pretty low temperature dude, but also extremely busy. The studio is generally booked up for about 3 months in advance so get in quick if you want to use it!

There were enough details and images on the studio’s website and from Andy for me to plan the shoot without a visit, so I sketched out the dimensions, lights and cameras on my set planner. This needed to be a multi camera shoot and was quite tricky with limited space. I had a specific look in mind so designed the lighting accordingly.

I decided to go with 6 cameras. Camera one on keys (over the shoulder – me), Cam 2 covering guitar & bass (Ben), cam 3 frontal mid shot of keys (Deryn), cam 4 on slider covering drums, guitar and bass, cam 5 overhead on drums, and finally camera 6 in the gallery for the safe shot (this camera didn’t make the final cut).

Day of the Video Shoot

Only three of us in the crew, so an early start and crack on with the lighting. Andy had a “dirty” electrical supply at the studio so we wouldn’t interfere with the audio. Andy got to work on the audio prep while we rigged up. The musicians arrived  at about 10:00 am, so they got to work setting up and everyone just worked around everyone else, with me on synchronization duties.

The musicians on this shoot were seasoned, session pros so happy to be placed and shoved around (thanks lads!) and just got on with the job. Andy got on with his job which was to multi-track and mix the audio. The track was recorded live with no fold-back, cans or overdubs. Not an easy job, but Andy is a pro. By about 1:00 pm the lights were in, spotted and focused, camera supports were in  and musicians mic-ed up.

Gear wise I used a Canon C100 Mk2 with 24/105 L series lens, Ben used a C100 Mk2 with 70/200 L series to cover bass and guitar, Deryn used a Canon C300 with 70/200 on the long/mid of Dan on the keyboards. The wide slider shot was a Canon 5D mk2 with 24/105 L series , drums overhead was my Canon 60D and the wide overhead was a Sony FS7.

I loaded up a Cinestyle profile to the 60D and matched the 5D to this and set the 2 C100s and C300 to a matching profile. I then dialed in the white balance to the look that I wanted and transferred that to the other cameras. I wanted a fairly loose look to the shoot so directed the crew accordingly. With only three of us we had a lot of work to do between takes to reset the remote cameras and slider etc but both Ben and Deryn worked their socks off all day.

To tie in all of the audio to the video for the edit, I recorded guide tracks to each camera and clapped a sync point before each take. I would then perform an auto line up on all audio (including the finished mix from Andy in the control room) within Premiere CC.

I wanted record as many takes as possible and I think in the end I had six or seven takes that we could take into the edit suite. I didn’t want any cheats in the final edit like taking parts from one take and fudging it into another. Without a vision mixer in the crew or anyone monitoring the cam outputs I just had to hope Ben & Deryn were getting what I needed, – they did.

It’s all very well getting it technically perfect on our end, but if we shot a perfect take we also had to hope the musicians were happy with their performances otherwise they would want to scrap that particular take. – Hence the need for so many takes – just to be sure.

I have to speak about the musicians for a while, these guys were just fantastic. Watch the finished edit and check out the skill levels on show here, Erroll Rollins is absolutely rock solid on the drums. Really simple and effortless (watch how he starts and also pay close attention to his solo/breaks in the middle – incredible).

Hamlet Luton is on bass duty. How cool is this guy?The riff that comes in about 5:17 is just immense and plagued our heads all day, all night and then the following day!

Johnny Heyes is on guitar and the subtlety in his playing just blew me away. Master control of the wah-wah and doing just enough when needed. Check out his syncopated break at 5:46, incredible.

Then there is Dan Goldman on keys. Dan has lots of videos up on his YouTube channel  to check out and is the master of improvisation. On this occasion though he’d planned out pretty much exactly what he wanted to do. Check out the extraordinary run at 5:02 (!).

All in all Dan had crafted a tune that ebbed and flowed from gentle piano to pure funk and back again effortlessly.

The Video Edit
In the edit suite I had a pretty big task ahead, ingest a ton of footage from six cameras in full HD, then split it into takes, rename all cam feeds and sync up. Once all this was done I had to work out which was the best take in terms of video technicality and looks. I had an idea about the best musical performance but ultimately Dan and the band had to be in agreement on this one. Luckily opinions matched up so we could scrap the other takes and get to work.

Andy needed a couple of days on the mix from The Nave so in the meantime I just worked to camera audio. I used the multi-camera function in Premiere and mixed the cameras on the fly until I had it looking how I wanted. I then just graded it and it was ready within a couple of days of the shoot. I hope you like the finished edit.

By about 5 or 6 pm we had it in the bag (hopefully) and everyone’s happy. The band could go home while we cracked on with shoot 2 with Dan – “DM12 Funk & Soul patch demonstration”. Dan had written some patches for the synth which would ship within the presets upon release. I re-rigged the kit so that we could record a multi-cam shoot of Dan demonstrating the patches. The finished edit can be seen below.

At about 10 pm we attempted to go for a third shoot, layering track with the TC looper. The looper didn’t really perform as expected with the synth so as me and the crew were falling over after a bout 14 hours straight we decided to call it a night at about 11.

Paul wood
Video Producer/DOP

 

Sanyo JCX-2150 Reciever – A Thing of Beauty

Now I don’t blog too often, but last time I did I was moaning about how my time machine had not worked and how great it would be if we could go back to the 70s/80s when things were a bit more exciting. “Why were they more exciting” you may ask? “are you mad?”

….Well,  possibly, but I mean in terms of technology…. things were made a bit better and technology was becoming accessible. New tech wasn’t so much of a “throw away” item as it is today, knocked up in a factory with the cheapest components possible and cheap, lightweight casings. Yes I know we all want things to be cheaper, lighter, faster, and generally more accessible but wasn’t it great when there was no internet and you used to desire that “thing” you’d seen in the shop window. Then after harassing your mum for as long as possible for the money to buy it (and failing), trying to work out ways to earn and save up. Yes… save up, until you could buy it! (disclaimer:Reel 9 does not in any way endorse the act of “saving”. Money is available instantly from multiple outlets such as “getyerloannow“, “telluswhenitspayday” etc. etc).

If you were a youth in the late 70s or 80s then there really were only a few options. Paper rounds were a firm favourite, but it sure took a lot of cold mornings and nights with frozen fingers to get that “thing”, but didn’t we appreciate it when we did? I think this is an older generation thing passed down, as I remember going round to mate’s houses (and my own) of course where dads were extremely proud and protective over their latest purchase…..don’t touch it!” would be the cry from said “mate” as we admired in awe the new Sanyo/Sharp/Bush hi-fi his old man had just bought. I mean these were great things. Silver…..brushed aluminium……wood…heavy knobs that turned…lights n stuff. These were things of beauty and woe betide you if you damaged another man’s Sharp.

But, alas, these things are no more and we are resigned to settling for the latest plastic item purchasing that the marketing masters have convinced us that we need to make our lives better. A few of us though have started a revolution. We go to car boot sales and charity shops hoping to seek out those old gems of technology that remind us of our youth….but it’s becoming harder…”everybody’s at it these days”. And they are.

What about when you used to get the “Loot” free ads paper and scour it before anyone else found that old Roland synth placed in the wrong section – “I’m avin that!” get round there and pick up a bargain. No chance anymore…we’ve got Ebay. Any old boys around that want to get rid of all their classic old stuff for peanuts?, no way, they’ve all been on Ebay pricing it up. If that’s not enough then you’ve got the car boot vultures…now these blokes are scary. Up at 4am standing in a field waiting for a car to arrive. Before you know it their face is stuck to the drivers window crying out in desperation “ow much for that Adidas bag in the boot mate?” The car hasn’t even stopped. I mean these guys are all over everything….records, old tech, hi fi, cameras, lenses, you name it.

Then there’s the charity shops, they’re even pricing up from Ebay! “ooh look its a Yashica 70-200mm, stick £50 on it Marg..” Now don’t get me wrong, I want the shop to make money, but isn’t the whole point of going in that of trying to find a “bargain”? I mean I went into a charity shop last week and saw an old suit I quite liked the look of. It was wool and seemed quite nice in old suit kind of way. The price tag read £99.99. Ninety Nine Ninety Nine!!! for an old suit?

So to drag you back to where I should have started without all of this rattling on I had basically given up hope of ever making a “special find” in time warp condition ever again, but then yesterday something happened.

The Mrs and I were out doing our usual “wander around small average town in the middle of nowhere looking at things for something to do” (we’ve all been there?….haven’t we?….maybe it’s just us) when a man called us into his lock up (don’t worry, it’s strictly legit). He had some stuff, loads of stuff. Usual old tat you’d find from any secondhand seller, but also some real vintage, interesting stuff, old radios, retro 70’s stuff and also some boxes with “new” stuff in, except it wasn’t new, it was new old stock. Now if you’re not familiar with the term NOS then it is usually things that were stocked in a shop for years but never sold. After some mooching and thinking plus some hard-nosed haggling I eventually came away with this…it’s new never been out of its box, made in 1978 of silver and wood and not been touched for 35 years! The Sanyo JCX 2150

The time machine had worked! I had gone back. It was cheap, it was a bargain, I was back in 1978. I got it home and decided to document its grand opening, the birth of the mighty Sanyo JCX 2150 that had been frozen in time for over 35 years, this could not be overlooked. Would it work? it could have been stored damp and the caps gone, only one way to find out…

It powered up with a lovely greeney-white glow across the huge display window. I hooked up a CD player, stuck the aerial to the wall and hooked up some JBL Control 1s to test it. Now unlike your normal Hi-Fi where the volume control only goes up to 10, this one goes up to 100!, I knew that it was gonna be loud.

Anyway it wasn’t as loud as I initially thought it might be but hey it is only 20W per channel. It sounded pretty good, so I carried on checking out the radio (rubbish reception up in them there hills I’m afraid) but it all seemed to work and generally sounded ok. I don’t think it will win any sound quality awards, but look at it….it is surely a thing of beauty in its own way.

For a moment, taking this thing out of its box and carefully plugging it in, turning the dial to tune in the receiver, the weighted controls…I was transported back to the days of my dad’s old Sharp in the corner, listening to West Ham on the radio on a cold winter night in the European Cup Winners Cup. Never really got that dad…”cup winner’s cup?…what do you mean?”.

What I’m going to do with him I’m not sure. It seemed a crime to awake him from his sleep, so I put him back in his bag…then his box….and then put him back to bed….for now.

 

Boardman Bikes Video Production for Halfords

I recently managed the 2013/2014 Boardman video production on behalf of Halfords.

We shot around 23 bikes with two crews over 5 days. The finished bike reviews can be seen on Halford’s own website and also their Youtube channel. Shot in the glorious countryside around Bingley and in Leeds city centre, two teams worked extremely hard in the heat (and rain) to produce some great results. The excellent Mark Nutkins on camera used the Canon C300 to great effect, directed by the equally excellent Dave Mills.

Mark is a “real” cameraman, done his apprenticeship and trained by the best and it shows. He’s got “Russians” and “E-Z-Ups” and lots of rolls of tape! and the obligatory battered old estate car to lug it all around. A really nice professional so don’t hesitate to hire him for your next project. Dave is a director…..directors crack jokes all day and generally make everyone feel good about the shoot, another excellent professional.

Mark Brooke took care of sound duties and is also a true pro, don’t hesitate to hire him. With planes overhead, lots of dogs and kids he certainly had his work cut out. The bikes are awesome, here are some pics from the shoot.

 

Revox B77 Cheap NAB Adaptors

I thought I’d post up some information that maybe helpful for those vintage enthusiasts of the classic Revox reel to reel machines such as the B77 and PR99 (feature on both coming later).
The correct NAB adaptors for 15 inch reels are becoming scarce, and when they do come up they are expensive. If, like me you were unfortunate enough to go the “cheapo” route and buy the $25 dollar option from Ebay you will no doubt be disappointed. They don’t fit. This results in a ridiculous “clonk” as the reels spin round. The reason is that the diameter is too small. There have been various solutions offered such as placing a CD behind the reels etc but none have worked for me.

I though I’d try my own solution and it seems to have worked. It’s cheap and a bit fiddly but seems to do the job for me.

All you need is some electrical tape, preferably black. Cut three small lengths to go in between the notches of the adaptor, stick on to the side and carefully press over the rim and smooth down. This will give one layer of diameter expansion. Try your reel and see if there is any improvement. if not, add another layer. Continue this process until the diameter is correct.

Private Hire & Taxi Exhibition Manchester

We recently documented this year’s exhibition, held at Event City Manchester. The event was a great success featuring all the major players within the UK taxi industry. A Skoda Rapide was given away in the prize draw and this year’s special guest was Craig Charles. The exhibition featured a Lamborghini Aventadour and an Audi R8, with stands provided by Autocab, Voyager, Kia Motors, Mercury, Cordic, T Dispatch, Ethos, Claybank Skoda and Westminster Insurance to name a few.

PHTM are currently taking bookings for next year’s exhibition.

River Ribble Restoration Project Video – Environment Agency

We have just finished shooting and editing our second video production for the Environment Agency.

The River Ribble in North Yorkshire, England is a thing of beauty. Meandering from the market town of Settle to the village of Long Preston it is a lowland river in an upland setting. Its ever changing currents, however, had upset the eco systems at a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Attempts over centuries to extensively drain the surrounding 162 hectares for grazing livestock had also affected the landscape and wildlife habitat. Draining water quickly from the floodplain, affected the breeding success of wetland birds, at one of the best inland sites in England. The Ribble is largely confined to the channel by flood banks and by historic dredging and deepening. So natural flooding events are now very limited and the erosive power of the river scours sediment from the river bed and banks. Livestock access to the river has inhibited vegetation along stepped banks.

The consequences?

Disrupted spawning grounds had diminished fish stocks and some of the 60 species of visiting birds had disappeared. The aquatic environment was poor in water-crowfoot, water-starwort and pondweed species.
Bankside woodland was almost completely absent except for a few scattered sycamore, young alder and crack willow. Finding a solution was not going to be easy.

Some 18 landowners and tenants had an interest in the area with up to a dozen groups and agencies, from anglers to local authorities, would closely monitor any plans to alter the course of the river or its environs. Collaborative working was key. Through a mixture of diplomacy, painstaking scientific appraisal and meticulous consultation has evolved The Long Preston Deeps Wet Grassland Project. This is a partnership between the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Natural England, the Environment Agency, the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, The Ribble Rivers Trust, North Yorkshire County Council, local landowners and tenants and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority. Formed in 2004 and originally focused on restoring the wet grassland, the project has called upon cutting edge technology to optimise the river flow over seven kilometres. In 2010 a detailed plan of works for the river was drawn up. On-going restoration projects aim to allow natural flooding to occur by once again reconnecting the river to its floodplain. Hydro morphology specialists have mapped the river’s contours. Riverbanks have been moved. Channels, called chutes, have been created. The river has found its natural rhythm. As a result, salmon and brown trout numbers have increased, and stocks of grayling and chub will also grow.

The work has enhanced birdlife too, by encouraging farmers to alter their grazing regimes and to cut rushes for winter cattle bedding. This creates a varied grassland structure with lots of short areas for birds to feed their young. Raised water levels provide shallow pools of water full of aquatic invertebrate food and plenty of muddy edges for birds to probe. The partnership is working with farmers so they can graze the floodplain in a way which integrates with an economic farming system while also providing improved services to the environment. An RSPB expert believes the project is one of the most successful farm wetland restoration schemes in the United Kingdom. The site now supports at least 80 pairs of nationally important breeding wading birds. They come in Spring along with other species like Curlew, Redshank, Snipe and Lapwing, Sand martins thrive in the sandbanks with less risk of being washed out. The wetlands are also home to winter wildfowl species such as teal, pintail and Widgeon. Marsh harriers, Buzzards, Peregrine Falcons, Kestrels and Sparrow hawks come to hunt, too.

A newly-planted woodland near the riverbank will provide shelter for anglers and wildlife alike. Banks and other areas have stabilised. A good example of the partnership working came in 2011 when a flood bank burst following a bleak winter. All the partners came together and took the opportunity to start work on restoration. Flood banks were moved back, revetment removed and the river and around six hectares of its flood plain reunited
The success led to more phases being planned and implemented in 2012 when more than 3.5km of river were restored and 15 hectares of flood plain reconnected. Now more land owners and tenants want to be involved.
Visitors, who come from all over the world to walk in the region and to enjoy the wildlife, flora and fauna, will benefit and the wetlands are set to become a popular research destination for schools and university students.

With improved resistance to climate change, the Ribble at Long Preston Deeps will be a treasure for future generations.

Environment Agency North West Video Production


We recently spent six days shooting for the Environment Agency in the North West region. The production was to document some of the great work that the agency is involved in from fisheries management, water pollution control, hygrometry & river flow management to nuclear power plant monitoring, culvert maintenance and flood control. We shot in several locations to include the Force Crag mine, Keswick, Chester, Warrington, Bolton and Carlisle and the weather was really not on our side! Blizzards and biting winds made life difficult for crew and interviewees alike. The production was shot to a very tight timescale with two locations covered per day, then edited down to interviews and a 3 minute edit to be shown at a EA management conference 3 weeks after shooting began.

Christmas Video

Ok it’s a bit late but I thought I would post up our christmas tree video. I wanted to make a video of my wife’s home made decorations, the felt gingerbread man, popcorn strings and decorated biscuits. Shot in about 10 minutes with no additional lighting except what is in our house already. Shot on Canon 60D 50mm on Vinten Pro5 sticks.
Hope you like it!

4K is Here!

Have you recently wandered around Currys dazzled by the bright lights of the shiny multi-coloured rectangles all eagerly displaying “Ice Age 17” or “Shrek and Woody, The Early Years” and thought, mmm I really must upgrade my old Sony 28 inch CRT to one of these new fandangled plasmays, or is it an LCD?…. or maybe it’s an LED? or better still says the “man”, I need one of those OLED’s…now they really are the business. But does it have 3D? do I really need 3D? I remember going to see Freddie Krueger in 1991 and it wasn’t that good. Now, Jaws 3D with that chopped off arm floating out… I could almost shake it, it was that real.

Anyway, I digress. The point is, did you buy one? did that “man in the shop” up-sell you from the original £500 you wanted to spend on the 100Hz, 2010 1080p Sony Bravia to the latest Panasonic smart TV at £1500? Or did you just plump for the “eye-catchers” at the front of the shop.. “FULL HD READY SAMSUNG – ONLY £299!!!” just to get it home and find out that you’d been suckered into a 720P? shame on them. Did you also find yourself making another trip back to the local “refuse anemity centre” frantically searching through the fridges, microwaves, 80’s hi-fi and ikea shelving units trying to find your old CRT TV? The thing is, you may have discovered that your lovely new flat screen TV doesn’t actually look that good in comparison does it? certainly not in standard definition. The high definition channels look great though don’t they? there’s just not that many of them for free! But, the broadcasters are catching up, soon everything will be in 1920 by 1080 wonderment and we’ll be ready! – or will we.

You see just when we were getting used to 1080, this thing called 2K came along, and now we’re bypassing that all together to bring you 4K! Yes, that’s 4096 x 2160 pixels in one of it’s forms. On October 30th 2012 Sony confirmed it’s support of the format with the introduction of “XAVC recording format that will be at the heart of its new industry-leading 4K products. Sony’s XAVC provides a dedicated 4K format that will encourage the adoption of 4K beyond feature films, in genres such as TV Dramas, Entertainment shows, Documentaries and Commercials. As well as the widespread applications for the professional HDTV market, Sony has developed the XAVC format to enable the expansion of 4K content into the consumer market. XAVC is designed to provide a future proof codec that can meet customers’ rapidly developing requirements for 4K content production and HD120P high frame rate shooting.” (from the Sony Broadcast site). The format is based upon h.264 video compression.

Currently, 4K monitors a little expensive, however cameras are within reach!. Sony’s NEX-FS700 comes in at around £5K + vat and will be able to shoot 4K in the near future. Canon have released the C500, building upon the success of the c300. But the most exciting release for us is the PMW-F5 from Sony which seems to have a really great form factor, and to have addressed many of the “niggles” that have been reported from the FS series users. We look forward to getting our hands on one soon!

As for the 4K TV.. it’s here! http://reviews.cnet.com/flat-panel-tvs/sony-xbr-84×900/4505-6482_7-35431618.html