Category Archives: Video Kit Reviews

Video Kit Reviews – by Video Artisan

This website contains various video kit reviews and field tests of professional video cameras and technology for videographers and producers of corporate videos and company films.

Video Artisan has been writing equipment reviews for nearly 30-years.  Articles concentrate on professional videography tools and those that use them within their work. This includes professional video cameras, editing systems, camera support systems, lighting and editing solutions.

In addition, this website includes articles on various aspects of video production and using video as a business tool.  These are equally aimed at either video professionals or end-users wishing to create their own video content.  Video Artisan believes in helping everyone to create effective video content as this promotes the use of video in general.

Please contact Kevin Cook for suggestions on additional content on this website. Please also contact us if you have a specific question relating to video production.  kevin@video-artisan.com or call 020 83602 3356

DSLR Video Kit for Sale

Canon 5D mk ii, lots of accessories - plus grip items. Available prior to eBay listing!!!
Canon 5D mk ii, lots of accessories – plus grip items. Available prior to eBay listing!!!

Before it goes on eBay, I thought I’d offer up a range of surplus DSLR video kit that I am selling. Prices based on cash sale, purchased as seen and with buyer collecting from our studio in Loughton, Essex (on Central Line). Alternatively, shipping can be arranged cost.

Please contact me on 07771535692 or by email to kevin@video-artisan.com

 

Bundle 1

Appox.
Price new
Av. Used
Price
Ebay
Buy Now price
Canon 5D Mk ii with Magic Lantern no lens
(Click here for spec)
£1,350.00
£550.00
Canon 5D Battery Charger
£43.00
£20.00

All items in Bundle 1
SOLD

5D Mk ii batteries x 9 (not Canon)
£15.00 each
£45.00
16GB CF Cards x 7 (mainly Transend)
£20.00
£35.00
Canon 5D Mk ii mains adapter
£15.00
£10.00
5D Mk ii Battery Grip (not Canon)
£25.00
£7.00
Variable ND Filter (import)
£30.00
£5.00
Hoodman Loupe (Click here for spec)
£50.00
£30.00

Items to be sold separately

RODE Videomic Pro (Click here for spec)
SOLD
SOLD
SOLD
Autocue Motion Pro Glide
Like Steadicam Merlin (Click here for spec)
£240.00
£80.00
SOLD
HabbyCam Shoulder Brace
(Click here for spec)
£150.00

£60.00

SOLD

Images

(click on image for larger preview)

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AKM Music – Video Tutorial #02

Video tutorial number 2
Guidance on producing a video tutorial series

I completed the second video tutorial for AKM Music last week – this time on how to find the right piece of royalty free music for your films from their extensive library.

Producing a video tutorial

Commissioning a video tutorial is a great way to spread the word about your products and services – as well as supporting your existing client base. They don’t have to be complex or lengthy. In fact, the shorter the better as the YouTube generation’s attention span is becoming shorter and shorter!

Whilst the temptation is to produce an in-depth and lengthy video tutorial covering advanced techniques and processes, you should always start by covering the basics. Beginners video tutorials are far more valuable in getting your customers hooked into your brand and products from an early stage. Breaking your process down to small junks not only makes it easier to produce, but it also makes it easier for your audience to follow. Advanced users will also have a need for a video tutorial, but they are more likely to already be established customers.

Serialising your video tutorials will also help build an audience – and will give you a regular excuse for reaching out to customers with some good news. Trickle feeding a video tutorial series will also help with your search engine optimisation efforts as each video released will be indexed on search engines separately. There’s nothing search engines like more than indexing regular and relevant content – and feeding that out to a video-hungry audience.

Should I produce a DIY or a Commissioned Video Tutorial?

Whether you produce a video tutorial series in-house or commission a professional video production company to produce them for you will generally depend on three things.

Firstly, does it matter if the end result looks home-spun or polished? The answer to this will greatly depend on your brand identity and the market you are serving. If you are a premium brand, offering a premium product, then a cheap looking tutorial video is not going to give the right impression.

The second thing to consider is your return on investment. If produced correctly, how much additional revenue could a video tutorial series generate for you? This isn’t the easiest of questions to answer, but if your product or service has a substantial retail value and profit margin then it might not take many additional sales in order to pay for the production of each video tutorial. Likewise if your product or service is high volume.

The final consideration is how much value you place on your own time, or those within your organisation who would be assigned the responsibility to produce your video tutorial? Whilst the process of creating a video tutorial can be fun and creatively rewarding, the main benefit of using a professional video production company is that they should be able to do it quickly and with less drain on your resources. This is not to mention negating the need to invest in the filming and editing equipment needed to turn out a professional looking video tutorial.

If you’ve not joined the many organisations sold on the value or commissioning a video tutorial series then now’s the time. Please contact us today for a no-obligation consultation on 020 3602 3356.

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Handheld Vs Shoulder-Mount Cameras

Shoulder-mount title
A short documentary about the benefits of shoulder-mount design video cameras

When shoulder-mount is the only option

I’ve been shooting with the JVC GY-HM650 for over a year now and it’s become my go-to camera for many assignments. Being of handheld design, the camera is compact yet pro-feature rich, making it ideal for shooting conferences, newsgathering and any event where you need and all-in-one camera with professional connections and performance.

Since its launch the GY-HM650 has been an incredibly successful camera for JVC – a demonstration of which was its adoption by the BBC in 2013 when it purchased over 500 of them for newsgathering in the UK and overseas. But, as good as this camera is, there are still some applications where its handheld design makes it less than perfect. Whilst the camera is light and compact, the handheld design can be very tiring to use off-tripod for any length of time – which is true of any camera in this class.

To address this, at the beginning of 2014 JVC launched the 800 series cameras – namely the GY-HM850/ HM890. The 800 series has adopted all the very best features of the 600 series and designed them into an excellent shoulder-mount solution. All the bits that I really like about the HM650 are included, plus there’s a host of new features which will appeal to a wide range of camera operators.

The GY-HM850 Shoulder-Mount Solution
The GY-HM850 Shoulder-Mount Solution

If you have something to say, say it with video!

Towards the end of last year JVC approached me about creating a short documentary which explains why some applications are better suited to a shoulder-mount camera – and to reveal some of the other less obvious reasons why some camera operators prefer this design type. They also wanted something that would highlight some of the new features which have been introduced into this model to make it even more useful to the professional cameraman.

Once you have used both of these types of camera you’ll have a very good understanding of where one performs better than the other. However, in today’s world of DSLRs and the trend of making cameras smaller and smaller, its not that obvious to the uninitiated as to why a shoulder-mount camera could be preferable. Despite being substantially larger and heavier, the only way you can persuade someone that they are far more comfortable to use, easier to handle and far less fatiguing to operate off-tripod for any length of time is to actually get them to try it out. My challenge for this film was just that – to encourage camera buyers to actually consider the camera design more closely and to explore all possibilities – and ultimately to give shoulder-mount cameras a try. I hope it achieves this!

Video Outline

After an initial consultation with JVC I presented them with a short treatment. Following a few tweaks the format was agreed and I worked on developing the script and coming up with ideas on how to achieve the objectives.

Whilst it would be simple for me to simply talk people through the camera’s features I really believed that we needed to get some other people’s comments and views, so I planned a visit to the Kit Plus event in London and door-stepped a few of the delegates there to get their views on why the shoulder-mount design still has it’s place in video production. Apart from giving the viewer a break from my own on-screen performance, I thought it was extremely important to get other real users to reveal the important and less obvious benefits.

Production Notes

I’ve produced a number of this type of film before here at our studios in Loughton, Essex – so finding the location to shoot the pieces to camera and the studio pack shots wasn’t a challenge. Every shot you see in this film was shot using my GY-HM650, with the only exception being the one shot of the GY-HM650 which was created using the GY-HM850.

HM850 on set
Shooting video cameras with video cameras

The only other material which was not actually filmed with the GY-HM650 was the GUI screen shots. These were created by capturing the camera’s HDMI output via the Intensity Pro card directly into my Edius edit suite.

A huge thanks to JVC for commissioning this film, and also to those who volunteered their time at Kit Plus London to be interviewed.

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AKM copyright-free music review – A Perfect Day

AK172 Title
AK172 – A Perfect Day copyright-free music review

Looking out my window right now it’s hard to get in the mood for this new album from AKM Music. I should have really written this copyright-free music review on a warm summer’s evening with a cool beer in hand instead of looking out to a grey, wet and dismal November afternoon. But then again it has brought a ray of light into my edit suite.

AK172 ‘A Perfect Day’ is pretty much what it says on the tin – a compendium of light and positive tracks which have a happy and upbeat guitar vibe. It conjures up summer scenes with the sun flaring through wooded landscapes with dandelion heads drifting on a warm breeze. Having said that there is enough variety on the album to create different moods but it should give you an idea what to expect.

There’s certainly more than a hint of ‘Good ole USA’ throughout the album, which should make it appeal to the North American royalty-free music user – or indeed anyone looking to add a ‘made in the USA’ feel to a piece. More than one of the tracks leans on that country music steel guitar and fiddle sound. It’s not exactly ‘Deliverance’ but every now and then you’ll imagine yourself on a veranda swing chair chewing tobacco and spitting in a bucket whilst waiting for the rodeo to hit town.

AK172 Cover
Every little bit ‘USA’

It does get a bit funkier in the middle of the album, with ‘Summer Barbecue’, ‘Cruising’, ‘Back in Town’ and ‘New Wheels’ taking the tempo up a notch. They are still very much in the American mood, but could equally be used on a non-USA corporate film to give you a more generic feeling of positively. There are also enough passages and breaks within these tracks to help you emphasis a point or drop the music level to an underscore and allow your feature sound (voiceover or interviews etc.) to rise to the top.

The latter tracks ‘Running in the Fields’ and ‘Sunny Sunday Morning’ takes the pace back down again. The former has a tinge of “Hispanic” about it, whilst the latter is a bit more “hotel lounge music” – but both continue with guitar-based sound and steady drum percussion.

Each score comes in three or four lengths; a full version, a long and short underscore and a short version of the main theme. I really like that feature of any copyright-free music album, especially on longer projects where you want to maintain a theme to your story, enabling you to link scenes and take the viewer with you on your story.

I can’t think of anything I’ll be using this album on for the moment – but that’s the strange thing about choosing a copyright-free music score for your films. I’ll quite often find that my original ideas on music change as a film develops from paper, to camera and finally on the edit. It is so affected by the colours, the characters, the weather conditions and what the final message is (which can also change) that you can never have too much variety in your copyright-free library. I think this is one of those albums that one day will be drawn from my every expanding library and put to good use. Yee Ha!

Notes: You can preview this album on the AKM Music website here.

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Movie Themes and Underscores – AKM Music Review

AK169 AK170  title
AK169 Emotive World & AK170 Nature Soundscapes

Copyright Free Movie Themes and Underscores – AK169 & AK170

I’ve had these two AKM Music copyright-free albums sitting waiting to be reviewed for a few weeks now. Whilst sharing similar characteristics, they do vary quite a bit in their application. AK169 Emotive World is, to me, a movie theme track album. Whilst there are tunes on there that could be used underneath narration I think this one is ideal when your looking for music to go on top and drive your visuals. AK170 Nature Soundscapes is more of an album of narrative underscores or possibly musical wallpaper when you want the images to tell the story in their own.

AK169 Emotive World

This album is all about big themes, mainly orchestral but there’s a few with a definite oriental feel to them. The first few tracks conjured up visions of big screen blockbusters but there’s also a smattering of tracks that could be used on corporates and commercials. Lots of voice effects here if you’re looking for some!

01 Main Theme – 3’16”
Medium slow, repetitive orchestral piece with swirling start and building with stabbing strings and voice effects. It conjured up a victory scene from one later Terminator films, with a hint of electronic FX here and there.

02 Black Wing – 3′
Back with the Terminator here. He said he would be! This could be used on the opening title sequence for the film or a scene where he rebuilds from being almost totally wiped out. There’s voice effects again on this one, with a slow beating of a huge timpani drum to create building tension. Nice dramatic ending to lead you into narrative.

03 Blue Moon – 2’36”
I was expecting something equally spacey on this but it’s an odd one. It starts with an electronic trumpet voluntary and gets all mixed up after that. There’s a horribly repetitive electronic stab which doesn’t seem to go away and eventually breaks into a chorus of electronic strings and odd sounding instruments (a bit like broken trumpets). Not my favourite.

04 Crisis of the City – 3’27”
Orchestral, menacing – with swirling electronic strings which create an image of desperation and destruction. Oh hang on, there’s another voice effect, this time a male choir giving it a ‘heave ho!’ type effect. This soon fades though and we’re back to this medium-paced big orchestral piece. Could fit equally well on a bank commercial as it could on a big blockbuster sci-fi or war film.

05 – Emotional – 3′
Poor attempt at a sad gypsy violin opening. If it was there to conjure up the emotions then it failed, and I’m not really sure where or how you’d use this one.

AK169 Emotive World
AK169 Emotive World

06 Kingdom of Children – 2’47”
Now they’ve got their electronic harp out and mixed that with what sounds like a young person’s voice effect and a harpsichord. It’s a simple tune this one, which makes it usable on all manner of films – especially those depicting kids.

07 Last Battle – 4’07”
Think of all the previous tracks and edit them together. Lots of voice effects, string stabs and big orchestral sound. Goes on a bit!

08 Morning – 2’19”
The rythym is building on this one with a big wind section chorus. I can imagine someone flying.

09 Ancient Drum – 2’12”
Hear them jungle drums man! Well it actually starts with a Japanese taiko drum and gong sound but soon breaks out into a wild tropical jungle beat. This could be a really useful track if you were looking to cut something at a really fast pace.

10 Osaka – 3’15”
Slow with a strong steady big-drum beat. Definite oriental feel about it, with chorus line played on a shakuhachi wooden flute. Orchestral strings build and finally lead you out as a solo.

11 Red Sky – 2’46”
Slow piano start, with orchestra sections dropping in one by one. And yes, you’ve guessed it, a choir of voices brought in for good measure. You can’t work out what they’re saying but it’s a feature that might preclude you from using the track. It ends on the piano, back on its own playing out it’s repetitive tinkle.

12 Santan – 2’09”
Indistinguishable from the last one really, but a bit more of a Celtic sound and without the voices.

13 Sky – 3’58”
Big orchestral piece with crashing cymbal sounds and horn sections. Eventually the voice effects come in and make you realise you’re on the same album. Could imagine this being used on a bank commercial.

14 Sunday – 2’03”
Violin opening sequence – obviously electronic but with a melancholy feel to it. Big drum and orchestral stabs and chorus pieces lift you up as the track moves along. No idea why its called ‘Sunday’.

15 Taiko – 2’08”
As the title suggests, we’re back with the Japanese Taiko drums this time but a lot less ‘jungle’ – more pure Taiko. A really useful track to have on hand if you are trying to get a really Japanese feel to something. Nice bamboo bashing to cut to.

16 Tear – 2’24”
So sad – so very sad! Reminded me a bit of Hushabye Mountain from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when it started, but soon fell into the same orchestra and voice effect pattern of other tracks in this album.

AK170 Nature Soundscapes

An excellent mix of mood-creating and enhancing tracks to add to landscapes. Each track has at least three variations of the main theme including a short sting and alternative cut. Quite of a few of these would work really well as a background track to narration. Nothing will offend you too much, and some of the alternate versions are very different to the main, yet recognisably similar. This could make them ideal for a longer-form documentary.

01/02/03/04 Above the Clouds – 5’54” / 2’43” / 19″ / 12″
This would work well on a scene filmed from a drone over highlands, valleys and streams. A slow piano-led piece with highlights in flute and string.

05/06/07 Blue Lagoon – 3’39 / 3’09” / 14″
Again, quite a slow piece but has much more of an electronic feel to it. Wispy short electronic stabs and a twiddling keyboard underscore take you along. This is pretty non-specific, so could be used as a background for narrative quite easily. The alternate version (06) is a bit more electronic and less detailed – making it even more usable for a narrative underscore.

AK170 Nature Soundscapes
AK170 Nature Soundscapes

08/09/10 Deep Forest Sunrise – 4’19” / 3’16” / 25″
A little more upbeat this time, but still with an electronic sound which has swirling keyboard effects and a driving electronic beat. An occasional subtle voice effect breaks in and slows the whole thing down before breaking back into the beat. The alternate version is a lot more melodic and slow with a piano lead.

11/12/13 Navaho Plain – 2’45” / 2’45” / 22″
Think Native American prairie with a hint of Celtic tribe and you’ll have this one. Flute and swirling orchestral sounds will take you to a misty morning somewhere – with birds flying high over a silent landscape. The alternative version is very similar, but with a more pronounced flute sequence.

14/15/16 Rising Sun – 4’11” / 2’21” / 19″
This starts with an eerie distant drumming sound before breaking into strings and subtle flute. The beat then lifts with an acoustic guitar lead with a bit of a Spanish sound to it. The alternate version is a bit more reliant on the drum beat and has a bit more of an electronic feel to it.

17/18/19 The Moon Appears – 6’12” / 3’03” / 17″
This one starts with a constant, slow deep swirling sound with distant strings and wind instruments. You can imagine drifting over a sea of ice during the first part of this. Gradually more definition is added with tubular bells, big string section and voice effects. The rhythm kind of creeps up on you. Reminded me of Bladerunner in parts. Alternative version is much simpler and more flute than anything else.

Kevin Cook F.Inst.V. (Hon)

Note: 20% off either the CD or CD DOWNLOAD with this promo code ‘HDSLR1’. All AKM Music’s albums and single-track download music can be previewed on their website – AKMMusic.co.uk

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