Category Archives: Video Artisan

Welcome

Video Artisan pride themselves on producing cost-effective video communication tools for business clients.  They understand their clients’ needs – and how to achieve their video production goals. This is why more and more businesses are using them for their video production needs.

These articles will keep you up to date with what’s been happening at Video Artisan.  Short stories, news updates and comments are published by the company’s founder, Kevin Cook.  Kevin has been in the professional video industry since 1985 and always aims to provide his clients with exceptional levels of customer satisfaction.  The company motto is, “Under promise and over deliver”.   At Video Artisan they always go that extra mile to provide an excellent product at a competitive price.

For further details

In conclusion, the areas of expertise include corporate video, company films and all professional video services.  Please contact Kevin Cook for further advice on this website – kevin@video-artisan.com or call 020 83602 3356

 

Cine to DVD – achieving the best conversions

We’ve been getting more cine to DVD enquiries lately – as well as tons of VHS and videotape to DVD conversions.  There still seems to be reels and reels of cine film out there just waiting to be loved again so I thought I’d better update my conversion process to match the interest.

Cine to DVD
Cine to DVD conversions – time to update your memories

I’ve always tried to retain as much of the original film quality as possible during the transfer process.  I don’t claim to do a piles and piles of cine to DVD each year but the stuff I do carry out is done with tender loving care.  The final result makes the whole family archive viewing process much more enjoyable… just pop the DVD in your player and you’re off.  No more family arguments as everyone struggles to set up a screen, projector and then feed in sprocket-chewed cine film.  More often than not these days the client simply doesn’t have a working projector so those precious memories never see the light of day.

I don’t have the throughput to justify the highly automated frame-scanner converters but believe I still turn out a pretty reasonable job using the much-used projector and video camera system.  Basically, the film image is projected through a mirror set at 45-degrees and then on to rear side of an opaque screen – which is then filmed from its front side with a video camera.

I use a Canon DSLR as my capture camera which gives me a full HD video which is then edited, tweaked, cropped, compiled and then output to a standard definition DVD.  Capturing at full HD does give me the option of supplying it to the client in Blu-Ray format too – but the vast majority end up on DVD.

The results from this method can vary quite considerably depending on how the system is set up and the quality of the mirror/screen combination.  There are also some modifications to the standard projector that can be made to squeeze a little bit more out of the film stock.

Cine to DVD Projector Modifications

The vast majority of cine films that I convert are either Standard 8mm or Super 8mm (I can convert any gauge though).  The sprocket and frame size differ on these formats but a dual-gate projector can play both back happily.  Switching the projector between formats engages the correct sprocket gearing and alters the gate size within the projector so that the projected image has a nice and clean frame edge.  This is great for projection but the process also masks off part of the exposed image on the film.

Filing out these gate frames enables me to capture more of the original film content.  I can then crop the video files and re-frame the image in post production to ensure every little corner of the film is on screen.

Another modification to the projector that helps is to alter the quality of light coming out of the projector lamp.  These lamps tend to produce a very focussed source of light which is great for projection but not so good for cine to DVD conversions.  Diffusing this light source helps smooth out any hot spots and helps create a more evenly exposed image.

Projector
Converting a Eumig 502D for Cine to DVD – adding diffusion to the lamp

Projection Perfection

The really rudimentary method of cine to DVD conversion is to simply project your film image on a wall or screen and then film that with your video camera.  This has one major disadvantage as your projector will have to have a slightly different angle of approach to the wall/screen than your video camera (they can’t both be in exactly the same position).  The image will therefore never be truly square and your focus will vary slightly from one side of the image to the other.  You’ll also have to do this in darkness as your room lights will need to be turned off in order to get a clear image on the wall/screen.  It works, but it’s not brilliant.

You can of course buy a purpose made cine to DVD conversion screen – and they will help you to get a better conversion than the method above.  However, the cheap conversion screens have a fundamental flaw in that the mirrors are generally standard back-coated.  Light passing through the mirror will split when it hits the front surface of this glass – part of which passes through the mirror and back out to the rear side of the opaque screen and part reflected directly off the mirror front surface.  This causes a slight double-image to be projected on to the opaque screen and a conversion that isn’t as sharp as it could be.

Good quality cine to DVD conversion screens overcome this problem by using front surface mirrors.  All of the light from the projector therefore bounces through the light path as one image – giving a much sharper conversion.

Cine to DVD Black Box

Excluding light from the projected image is important too to help you capture the widest possible contrast.  Some of the basic converters have no light exclusion at all, whilst others acknowledge the problem but only provide minimal hooding over the front surface of the opaque screen.  A simple rule – the more light excluded from the front surface the better.

To get the very best quality conversions I’ve built my own cine to DVD black box unit as there didn’t seem to be an off the shelf solution that solved all the problems.  This includes a porthole suitable for most projectors, made to measure front surface mirror and opaque rear projection screen – all housed in a light exclusion matt black box with enough hooding to enable me to operate it in a fully lit room.

Cine Black Box
Cine to DVD Black Box – with roof taken off

The front surface mirror was specially made for me by Vacuum Coatings Ltd of Walthamstow who specialise in all kinds optical coatings and scientific mirrors (they provide the glass for Autocue too apparently).  They also hand-frosted the front projection screen for me too.  The box construction is MDF.

So now the system and process is all tested, tweaked and ready for the next cine to DVD job to come in.  I’m not the cheapest guy around for this service but I like to think I do a good job.  You can get it done a lot cheaper in fact, but I think those guys know their worth better than me so I won’t comment. ; )

For details on our cine to DVD pricing please click here.  If you are not sure how much film you’ve got please give us a call for a quote.

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Eiger Safety promotional DVD nears completion

With Oyster Card in hand and lightweight shooting kit on my back I was off to film one of the final locations of the Eiger Safety promotional DVD today.  This time I was heading towards the Hilton London Metropolitan in Edgeware Road.  Being up at the crack of dawn for a 6:45 rendezvous at Marble Arch was no fun – but at least I wasn’t suffering on my own.  Everyone on the tube at this time of the morning (and more so at this time of year) rarely look like they want to be there – so I snapped it on Instagram.

Apart from signalling the nearing of the end of this year-long promotional DVD filming schedule, the subject of the day’s shoot was vital in telling the story of Eiger Safety as we were capturing their guys performing two of their most frequently performed tasks – namely eye-bolt installation and testing.

Eye-bolts going in at the Hilton
Eye-bolts going in at the Hilton

Health & Safety regulations touch us all these days and one of the major areas is height safety systems and procedures.  Eiger Safety cover pretty much everything within this sphere.  These eye-bolts provide a safe tethering point for those working near to height hazards.  Whilst they are installed in many different locations and for different height risks, the ones I filmed today were being installed in hotel rooms to enable the staff and contractors to safely clean, inspect and maintain windows and openings.

Apart from installing thousands of these anchor points each year they all have an annual re-testing requirement too.  It was therefore important to get a fair bit of the guys doing the final test on the newly installed eye-bolts.  It might not have been as exciting as some of the other locations and activities I’ve filmed for them (Clifton Suspension Bridge was my favourite) – but nonetheless the film would be incomplete and almost pointless promotional DVD without it.

Eye bolt test
The all-important testing stage for the promotional DVD

The next location shoot will be the last (mind you – they’ve said that before) and will cover the installation of handrail systems – another huge part of Eiger Safety’s work.  These are pretty much all outside locations so I’m praying for the weather to warm up for that day.  After that it’ll be some studio work in filming an interview with the MD to use as a narrative for a longer form version I’m producing for them. This is in addition to the original brief of creating a short 3-min piece set to music that will form the opening part of a PowerPoint sales presentation.  I love it when jobs expand! : )

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New Year – New Edit Suite

After a year producing some amazing films for some amazing clients, I thought it was about time to give Video Artisan a little New Year treat in the form of a nice shiny new edit suite from those ever so knowledgeable chaps at DVC.  Even though my current 4.6 based Edius edit suite has turned out the work without a hitch the workload that looks like it’s going to be landing on my desk this year calls for something that packs a little more punch.  That said, the old edit suite is not being put out to grass quite yet as it’s going to be doing some of the lighter work that seems to pile up at the busier times.

Our Edius Broadcast video production facilities in Loughton
Our Edius Broadcast video production facilities in Loughton

Why chose an Edius edit suite?

I am a Grass Valley Edius man through and through these days – albeit that I’ve had varying levels of experience with just about every editing system out there.  My first entry into non-linear editing was way back with a Fast AV Master capture card running alongside a very early version of Adobe Premier (I think it was 1.2).  However, before that I honed my editing skills on a three machine UMatic edit suite with a load of other electronic gizmos that were needed to perform basic shot transitions and effects.  Oh how times have changed!  So too have the costs as that UMatic edit suite set us back about £20k which was an awful lot of money back in 1986!

UMatic Edit Suite
UMatic Edit Suite in full swing – driven by the delectable Tiffany

Though I could have coped with staying with the old edit suite for a few more months I really longed for a few of the benefits of the latest version of Edius software and a beefier computer to house it in.  For instance, the old system was a little lumpy (understatement) when dealing with the Full HD MOV files created by the Canon 5DMkII.  To overcome this I would convert all camera files to the Canopus HQ for editing.  Whilst these files were easy to handle the process of having to codec convert the files did slow down the editing process somewhat.  It also resulted in using up much more HD space than was needed. The new system will be able to cope with four or five layers of Full HD – in real time.  Yum yum!  It should also speed up the online delivery encoding process which is another thing that seems to have taken up quite a bit of my 2012.

There are plenty of new tools that I’m going to enjoy playing with too in Edius 6.5 – and probably the most notable over my old software is the new layout tool. But there’s a whole host of improvements that will make the editing process quicker and easier…

  • Colour correction tool supports 10-bit colour depth
  • Export sequence with alpha channel
  • Native RED (.R3D) support*
  • Improved XDCAM/ P2 data transfer
  • 3D (stereoscopic) editing
  • AVCHD 2.0 support
  • AVCHD 3D export support
  • EOS movie support (ALL-I (I-only), IPB)
  • Camera RAW format support
  • Filmstrip view in Timeline
  • Built-in loudness meter
  • Built-in shake stabilizer
  • 720p Blu-ray authoring support
  • Flash F4V export
  • QuickTime HQ/HQX codec (Windows/Mac)

The PC system is based on an Intel® Core™ i7-3770K Processor 3.5GHz with Hyperthreading (8M Cache, up to 3.90 GHz) running the Windows 7 Pro 64 bit operating system.  With 8GB of RAM, 8TB of SATA HD storage and a 128GB SSD system drive – the beast should fly and chew it’s way through the kind of video production work I’m attracting.

Edius 6.5
The new edit suite based on Edius 6.5

Why choose DVC for building my new edit suite?

I did weigh up the options and various sources for getting the new edit suite built – and even considered building the thing myself.  To be honest, the latter choice went in and out of my mind quicker than lightening.  Whilst I’m pretty sure I could put something together after watching a few YouTube videos and reading up on the subject – I’m a great believer in leaving things to those who really know what they are doing.  I also value the benefit of having someone to go back to if the thing didn’t work (a distinct possibility with home-build systems). I also really value the kind of support that an experienced NLE system builder can provide ‘post sale’ – and there are very few that have as much experience as the folk at DVC.  They also happen to produce some pretty comprehensive user guides with their systems which will no doubt be handy in the first few months of use.

The new system is now in the process of being built and it should be with me within the next 10-days.  I’ll be giving you updates on this and a little more background on my choice of system as soon as I’ve got it installed in the edit suite.  In the meantime, I’m gagging to get my hands on it and start using it on my next corporate film.

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Christmas cheer from Video Artisan

This is just a final Christmas message and thank you to all my fantastic clients who have made my first year back behind camera so amazing.  If I had a crystal ball back in February when I launched Video Artisan – and could see where I am today – I’d be astonished at how well I’ve done.

I’m particularly grateful to Supadance for being my first corporate video customer (and having commissioned me to produce 4 more films since).  Another person to show faith in me was my good friend Paul Jaffe at Eiger Safety whose rope access film (nay Epic) is still in production. He just keeps on winning new and exciting projects which just simply have to be filmed – but we really are going to push towards completing this in the New Year (aren’t we Paul? : ))

There’s been many more clients since then – some of which you’ll be hearing about in the New Year.

Needless to say that winning the Open Category at the IOV Awards was a very special achievement for me this year and gave me the kind of boost that’s hard to quantify.  Getting a 2nd place in the Documentary Category was just icing on the cake.

Like I said, an amazing year that has completely blown away my expectations. And if the bookings and enquiries for early 2013 are anything to go by then this is just the start of something really special.

Last but not least – and maaaaaaaaaaaassive thanks to my wife, Tiff, for never doubting that I was doing the right thing.  You are always right dear! ; )

So have a great Christmas and a prosperous New Year everyone. I’m off to crack open the sherry!

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DVD on sale – Supadance National League

Following its online release on the Supadance website, I have been approached several times from competitors about purchasing a copy on DVD. Whilst this wasn’t in our original plan, we like to do what we can to keep the customer satisfied and are pleased to announce this short film’s DVD release.

Supadance National League DVD on sale
Buy your DVD copy now!

Is this DVD any different from the online version?

No, its exactly the same but many dancers seem to want a more permanent and easy to watch reminder of the Supadance National League finals held at the beginning of the month.

Are there any discounts for bulk purchases?

We understand some competitors will want more than one copy to give out to family and friends so we have put together four different packages – with multi-buy discounts.

Postage & Packaging

All prices include postage and packaging – so what you see is what you pay. DVD’s will be dispatch by 2nd-Class Royal Mail post.

Order your DVD Now…

2012 Supadance National League DVD x 1 copy
£12.50




2012 Supadance National League DVD x 2 copies
£22.50




2012 Supadance National League DVD x 5 copies
£55.00




2012 Supadance National League DVD x 10 copies
£100.00




I don’t have a PayPal Account or Credit/Debit cards!

PayPal will allow you to pay by Credit or Debit card too – even without a PayPal account.  However, if you prefer you can pay by cheque.  Please send to: ‘Video Artisan, 174 Roding Road, Loughton, Essex IG10 3BS‘.  Please make the cheques payable to ‘Kevin Cook‘ and include your name, address, telephone and email address (if available).

We can also accept payment by BACS transfer.  Please email me (kevin@video-artisan.com) with all your contact details and we will supply our bank details and a payment reference for you to use.

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