UHD video production – the true benefits

 

UHD Video Production Title
UHD Video Production Guide

UHD video production – is it worth it?

This is something that I’ve already answered for myself but it’s a question that a lot of videographers are asking themselves right now – “Am I going to benefit from UHD video production?” Actually, that’s the wrong question. What you should be asking is, “Are my customers going to benefit from UHD video production?”. I think so – and the five key-reasons for me are:

  1. UHD Video Production for the price of HD
    (And maybe even less!)
  2. Greater Creativity
    (Large sensor creativity – produced even quicker)
  3. Resolution Choice
    (HD delivery from a UHD video production workflow)
  4. Future-Proofed Footage
    (UHD Masters – even if you don’t need them now!)
  5. Faster Turnaround
    (Multi-camera look from single-camera filming)

What is UHD?

UHD Video Production - UHD logoIt’s hard to talk about this subject without getting technical but I’m going to try and keep it as light as possible as I’ve got a lot of readers who are not technical at all. UHD (Ultra High Definition) is a high resolution video format. Simplistically, this means it gives you (potentially) a lot more detail in the picture. To give you a comparison High Definition (HD) video has a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. Ultra HD, or 4K as it’s also known, gives you 3840 x 2160 pixels (and a touch more in it’s native and ultra-wide variants). If you want to dig deeper and get all techie then read this Wiki page.

OK – that’s all the really techie bits out of the way – almost. Now let’s look at why I’ve taken the plunge and opted for JVC’s 4K offering, the GY-LS300 and how I think UHD video production will start to benefit my customers.

Creativity with Ease

I’ve been shooting video with HD DSLRs (digital stills cameras that shoot video too) for about 6-years now and quickly grew to love the DSLR look. Even with all of their shortcomings, impracticalities and oodles of accessories needed to make them useful as a video production tool – I soon became a DSLR-er. Whilst they’ve come on leaps and bounds, and still have a place in my tool box, DSLRs simply weren’t the right tool for every job. For instance, I still think it’s bonkers shooting anything long-form with them such as conferences and business presentations.

What differentiated DSLRs from traditional video cameras was their shallow depth of field look (or Bokeh) and their pin-sharp and colourful imagery which is achieved through utilising their large image sensors. These were not just desirable features to me – they turned out to be both inspirational and educational. Like many other videographers, traditional video cameras (with their fixed zoom lenses) took away the need for me to understand about lens features and mechanics, the impact of sensor sizes and how to operate a camera manually. You switched them on and pointed them in the general direction of the action – and in “auto-everything” mode you’d be pretty unlucky to get something that wasn’t useful.

Whiz on a few years and everyone started talking about UHD video production and it was a relatively easy step for manufacturers to create DSLRs capable of these higher resolution pictures with their already large-enough image sensor size (most traditional video cameras have puny image chips in them by comparison). I was tempted, but the ergonomics and struggles associated with DSLR filming kept me from putting my hand in my pocket. Photography and videography are two distinctly separate fields of image capture which have very different design and use requirements. DSLRs are essentially just stills cameras that can shoot video.

These were soon followed by a wave of traditional video cameras with large sensors capable of UHD video production – most with interchangeable lenses but, more importantly, they were designed with the videographer and cinematographer in mind. Not only were the ergonomics more familiar but they also handled audio in the same way with professional connections and controls where a videographer would expect to find them.

So now we have a properly designed offering of video cameras capable of UHD video production and the same sumptuous shallow depth of field that we’ve all grown used to seeing. Now my only quandary was which one?

UHD video production with JVC’s GY-LS300

Apart from being a total JVC tart, a large part of the reasoning behind me investing in JVC’s GY-LS300 was down to its ability to work with a range of lens types. Other choices of camera would have required reinvestment in glass which would have had to be reflected in my charges to customers. In today’s competitive world, anything that enables you to maintain your rate card whilst improving your output has got to be good for customers.

UHD video production with JVC's GY-LS300
UHD video production with JVC’s GY-LS300

The combination of the LS300’s Super 35mm sensor and its MTF (Micro Four Thirds) lens mount means you can attach pretty much any lens with the right adapter. Not only does this allow me to use my existing range of DSLR lenses (modern full-frame lenses, cropped sensor lenses and vintage 35mm lenses), but it can also utilise cinema-grade, cheap photographic and even really old (but optically brilliant) 16mm film lenses should the need arise. JVC cleverly achieve this by adjusting the sensor crop within the camera’s VSM setting (Variable Scan Mapping).

My decision was cemented when the latest firmware was announced for the LS300. This brought in a unique ‘Prime Zoom’ function which basically gives you a short but lossless digital zoom when using prime lenses. The range of zoom depends on the recording format the camera is set to, but when filming in HD mode this can give you up to 2.3x zoom on a prime lens (1.25x in 4K mode).

The other additions introduced in the latest firmware included ‘J Log’ mode which enables you to record a wide latitude and high dynamic range similar to that found on film cameras. Whilst this requires additional time in post production to grade the picture to your desired look, it does give you access to a much higher contrast ratio providing detail within highlights and shadows. This, coupled with exposure histogram, spot metering and other picture level adjustments, will allow me to fine-tune the pictures to my heart’s content.

On top of this the LS300 is extremely compact and light. This is particularly important to me and my customers as much of my work these days is overseas so this should help me to keep shipping costs to an absolute minimum.

HD delivery from UHD video production

Whilst UHD playback TVs and projectors are now widely available, in the near future the vast majority of time I will be creating content for HD delivery. However, shooting in UHD will enable me to make some creative decisions and changes in framing in post. With all that additional resolution to play with it’s easy, and non-destructive, to zoom into the UHD picture without any appreciable loss.

In practical terms (and how UHD video production might save my customers money), this also means I could film a talking-head interview as a single wide shot and then zoom-in or cut-in for close-ups. This negates the need for using two cameras and reduces the time needed on a shoot – both of which are good news for customers.

And whilst I will be editing and delivering predominantly in HD, retaining the original UHD masters will enable my clients to re-purpose material in the future when UHD delivery becomes the norm – without loss in resolution.

My first UHD video production

I’m currently putting the camera and lens configurations through testing to make sure I can give my customers the full benefits of UHD video production. However, I’ve already got some projects in my diary where the LS300 will be my first choice of camera. It’s ideally suited to interview filming and also any scenario where my customers want the added benefits that UHD video production can bring – as well as “lush” pictures and unhindered creativity.

Keep an eye on my blog in the next couple of months and you’ll see exactly what UHD video production is all about. If you can’t wait to find out, and what to be one of our first UHD customers, then please give me a call on 020 3602 3356.

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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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Media Archiving for Business

Media Archiving for Business
A short guide to Media Archiving for Businesses of all sizes

Do you have videotapes, slides, photos and other media taking up too much valuable space in your business premises? This short article reveals how Video Artisan can help save you space, money and even re-purpose this media with our various media archiving services. You never know – there might even be ways you could start to make your media archive pay!

Media Archiving – part of your Spring Cleaning

We’re not quite there yet, but many businesses will be thinking of spring cleaning their premises in an attempt to de-clutter and claim back some of their valuable office, filing and storage space. In many cases, a fair proportion of that space is being filled with bulky, and hard to access, media. But before you start to throw away old videotapes, cassettes, films, negatives, slides etc. – do you really know what’s on them? Do you still have the machines to play them back or display them – without damaging their contents? It’s probably time you started to look at the various benefits of media archiving.

At Video Artisan we help businesses with their media archiving by converting pretty much any analogue media into virtually footprint-less digital files which can be easily accessed, indexed and saved to a multitude of digital storage solutions. Today, a single USB stick could contain several filing cabinets worth of high resolution photos, negatives and/or slides!

Comparative Media Source
USB size and the approx. amount of JPG images they can store
1GB
4GB
8GB
32GB
128GB
High quality 6×4 colour photos
700
2,800
5,700
23,000
90,000
High quality A4 colour photos
200
800
1,600
6,500
26,000

Note: A detailed megapixel calculation chart can be found on the Sandisk website here.

Video and film media archiving is more data hungry, but you can still store many hours of digital video footage on a single USB stick. For instance, an 8GB USB stick could contain up to 6-hours of standard definition video (for details on our basic video to USB stick service here)

These files could of course be stored on local servers or in the cloud and simply copied off when needed. However, for businesses and organisations with extensive media archives, that need to be accessed and utilised frequently, digitised media can also be incorporated into highly sophisticated digital asset management systems. In this instance Video Artisan can help by providing you with a digitisation service to get your files ready for media archiving – or manage the entire process for you.

Media Archiving for Profit

All businesses have a story to tell – some going back generations – but much of this valuable marketing material can be trapped in old photos, negatives, slides, film or video. Using these within your marketing can be extremely valuable in helping you to position your business as being established and trusted.

Businesses often struggle to find interesting and engaging content to share on social media platforms and your old media archive might not be just interesting to you and those within your business. Properly described and tagged images – including information about dates, location, people and contents featured within the media – could be of great interest to a much wider audience than your brand is presently exposed to. Who knows, you might have something in your media archives which has ‘viral’ potential!

Sharing your media archives even wider might also generate hard currency. Image database websites, such as Shutterstock enable you to freely upload your images and make them available to others to licence and use – on a fee-paying basis. When creative agencies, designers or publishers are trying to portray a specific period in history they will often rely heavily on finding images within these libraries to help them achieve this – and will pay handsomely for their use.

Restoration

Whilst there are limitations, old and damaged media can also be digitised and restored to their original quality – and sometimes even improved upon. Torn, scratched or heat/moisture damaged items can also be painstakingly touched up and made useful again – whether purely for posterity or to be re-purposed within your business. Whilst this can be an expensive process (price on application), for the right image and the right application you might be able to re-liven an irreplaceable piece of history.

Media Archiving Restoration
Bringing images back to life

Start Media Archiving today

To find out how you can start your own media archiving, please contact us today and we’ll be happy to help bring your media into the 21st Century.

Contact 020 3602 3356 or email: kevin@video-artisan.com

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Premium Video Content Guide

Premium Video Content
Looking to make money from your videos?

If you are looking at capitalising from your premium video content, this detailed blog should cover all the basic information you will need.

What is Premium Video Content?

Every now and then a client asks us how they can monetise their video content. This is generally because they believe they’ve got an idea for a film which they think there’s a paying audience for. This is a perfectly understandable desire as video is a great way to share valuable information – but ‘Premium Video Content’ has to have certain aspects about it before it can generate income and profit.

Content is King

It’s an old saying but vitally important – “Content is King” when it comes to creating truly profitable premium video content. An audience is only going to pay to watch or own a film which has value to them. Two great examples include:

  • Professional Development – content that will enable a professional or craftsman to do their work better, quicker and/or more economically. The viewer must believe that by watching your premium video content they will be more successful professionally.
  • Personal Development – content that will enable a hobbyist, artisan, sports person or novice to carry out their activities to a higher level of achievement and/or enjoyment. Your premium video content must be inspirational and empowering.

Do you have a Viable Market?

You might have the best possible premium video content idea, and the expertise to deliver a valuable video, but it is equally important to know who and what your target audience size is. These are not things you can guess at – they must be researched!

Profiting from Premium Video Content - MoneyYou must know how many potential viewers there are and how much they would pay to watch, or own, your video. You must also have routes to this market to enable you to communicate and market your premium video content to them. It is only when you know the cost of producing, distributing and marketing your premium video content that you will understand its viability.

If your content is of general interest and purely for personal development then it is unlikely going to attract a substantial amount of revenue per customer. You’ll therefore need a substantial audience – maybe in the tens or hundreds of thousands. Conversely, a premium video content video that contains top-tips and industry secrets aimed at a highly-paid profession might well attract substantial revenue per customer. To make these profitable might only require a handful of customers.

Controlling Distribution

You have basically two ways in which to distribute your premium video content to your audience – either on physical media (i.e. DVD or USB stick) or online (i.e. YouTube, Vimeo or your own servers). Each has its strong points – and each can be offered in combination with the other – which will be expanded upon later.

One of the greatest risks to your profitability, whether releasing on physical media or online, is copy protection. It is a major concern for all creators of premium video content and you should adopt every practical measure to ensure your content is only consumed by paying customers. Even the biggest media corporations struggle to achieve this, so the very least you can do is follow their example and account for this shrinkage within your pricing structure.

All digital content is relatively easy to copy – even for the novice. Whilst there are copy-protection technologies and systems out there an experienced media-copying specialist (a Pirate), with a modicum of investment in technology, will be able to defeat them. Piracy is still theft though, so you need to make it as difficult as possible to guard your premium video content – or at the very least make it unattractive for the pirate to steal by pricing it attractively so they do not bother to try an undercut you.

Let’s look at the benefits, drawbacks and features of the two main distribution methods.

Physical Distribution
Whilst there is a move away from disc-based media (DVDs and Blu-Ray), the saturation of disc players (set-top boxes, computers, games consoles…) means that it will be with us for quite some time and provide you with a widely acceptable means of distributing your premium video content.

DVD players are far more widely available, but limited to standard definition content. Blu-Ray discs are capable of delivering high definition content, but players are far, far less prevalent. Though you should always consider quality when selling premium video content, the fact that it is not high definition might not matter to your customers – as long as you’ve remembered that ‘Content is King’.

If you believe your customers will want high definition (or beyond!) the alternative would be to supply your premium video content on USB sticks. File-based delivery is growing very fast and most modern TV sets will play video straight from a USB stick – as will nearly every computer. The other added benefit of USB sticks is that you can easily include other digital files and assets on them. For instance, an instructional video might also benefit from having some additional printed notes or diagrams to aid the customer.

Profiting from Premium Video Content - Disks and Sticks
Something to put in your customer’s hands

Whilst it is still easy to copy a disc, and somewhat easier to copy a USB stick, the main benefit of supplying your content on physical media is that it gives a greater sense of value and ownership to your customer. It also gives you additional means of branding your product within packaging. Furthermore, customers who have purchased your premium video content are less likely to copy and share it.

Though a physical product will attract a higher price, there’s also additional costs and time involved in production and distribution. The cost of blank media is generally going down (a recordable DVD is pennies rather than pounds), but you also have to consider cases, postage and the manpower involved in processing orders and maintaining stock levels. That being said, the payment mechanism is reasonably straight forward… They pay you – you send them the product!

Online Distribution
The biggest advantage of distributing your premium video content online is virtually zero costs in distribution per unit. Once you have created your video and uploaded it to a server each viewing or download will be almost cost free – depending on the payment mechanism or platform you’ve chosen to host it on.

The biggest drawback is that once your content is ‘online’ it is extremely easy to copy and share. DVDs and USB could also easily be uploaded and exploited the same way, but with online content you are only a couple of clicks away from your content being copied, shared and duplicated everywhere. Projecting margins and profits therefore must take into consideration a much higher level of shrinkage. Maybe only 1/1000 people who get to watch your content might have actually paid to do so – but on high-volume, mass-market premium video content this might still be enough to generate profit.

There are a number of online facilities which will enable you to host your premium video content, take payments for plays and downloads, create audiences and enable you to communicate with them. The two most notable are YouTube’s ‘Paid Channels’ and Vimeo’s ‘Pro’ accounts. Each has its own payment and charging model and restrictions but either could suit both mass-market and specialist market premium video content.

Profiting from Premium Video Content - YouTube Channel
Setting up your own paid-for YouTube channel

You could of course use your own website to distribute your content – with your media located in password protected areas which paying customers can only access. The videos themselves could be hosted on Vimeo Pro and Plus accounts which can restrict the video from being embedded on anything other than your designated URL. You can also elect to enable or disable downloads – or even add password protection so that your premium video content can only be played by those in possession of a password.

The best of all worlds

There’s one thing that every customer appreciates today, regardless of the product or service, and that’s ‘choice’. Once you have gone to the time, effort and investment of creating your premium video content then you should release it using all distribution methods available to you. Give your customers choice – and fewer reasons not to buy!

Giving away ‘teaser’ content online is also a great way to drive sales of complete programmes. Short extracts can be edited to freely distribute online which give viewers an insight into the value of information your films contain. If you make this free content available by request (maybe by subscribing to your website) you will gradually build up a database of potential customers for you to market. This is even more important for those who believe they have material for an ongoing series of premium video content. Customers who buy part I in a series are much more likely to buy series II, III, IV & V!

The cost of producing premium video content

So… you’ve got the idea, know your market and understand about distribution – now all that’s left is to work out how much it is going to cost to get your premium video content created! This is where Video Artisan comes in.

The tricky bit is that there is no such thing as an off-the-shelf cost for video production – no matter who tells you otherwise. There are standard packages broken down into number of days to film and edit – but the all-in costs can range dramatically depending on what you are trying to create and how much work and involvement you are looking for from your video production company.

We have produced another guide which should, hopefully, give you a better idea of how video production costs can vary (see here) but your next step is to contact us for a no-obligation consultation to see how Video Artisan can help you to start profiting from your premium video content.

Call 020 3602 3356 today – or email kevin@video-artisan.com

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Videotape to MP4

Videotape to MP4
Videotape to MP4 conversions – what’s it all about?

There’s been a massive sea change in the past six months in our videotape conversion work here at Video Artisan. At the beginning of this year we were almost exclusively converting VHS, VHS-C, 8mm and DV tapes to DVD. That’s still a significant part of what we do, and DVDs are going to be with us for many years to come, but our customers are starting to appreciate the convenience and benefits of having their videotape collection converted to MP4 files and supplied on USB stick.

So what is driving the change of videotape to MP4?

USBs are the "now" format!
USBs are the “now” format!

Videotape to MP4 conversion has many benefits over and above conversion to DVD. Without getting too geeky, MP4 (which is a digital video file format) has the potential of displaying much higher resolution images. However, this aspect is really only important if you have high definition videotapes that need converting. As with most things in life, you get out what you put in – so your never going to get high definition video from a VHS tape original. Sorry, but that’s a fact.

Where MP4 is extremely clever is that it compresses video more intelligently than the compression format used on a standard DVD (which, for the geeks amongst you, is MPEG2). Without any appreciable loss of quality you’ll only get around 2-hrs of standard definition video on a single-sided DVD (which has around 4.7GB of storage capacity). In MP4 format you can compress the video much more efficiently enabling you to get many more minutes into less storage space at a similar quality.

However, as clever as this all sounds the main benefits which our clients really like about our videotape to MP4 conversion service are:

  • Easy to view
    Most modern TV’s have the ability to playback MP4 files directly from a USB stick. Yes it’s true.. look on the back of your TV set and you’ll see a socket/s which you’ve probably not used before. Pop the USB stick in and select it from the source on your remote and, hey presto, the MP4 video files will play back just the same as they would if played from a DVD. MP4 files will also play back on BluRay players, mobile phones, tablets, media servers and more!

    USB socket
    Go on, dare you! See if you’ve got a USB socket on your TV set

  • Easy to copy
    Whilst it’s easy for us geeky people to copy DVDs, not every customer wants to download ripping programs from dubious sources and fill up their computers with rarely used programs. Just pop the USB stick in your computer and it will appear like any other drive. Drag and drop the MP4 files on to your hard drive and it’s all backed up safely.
  • Easy to share
    Not only can you easily make additional copies on USB sticks (or we can do it for you), but you can also upload your MP4 files to the likes of YouTube and share them with the rest of the world (or at least family and friends). Simply open a YouTube account and start uploading! If you don’t want to share them with any Tom, Dick or Harry use YouTube’s privacy settings to restrict viewing to the audience you want.
  • Easy to edit
    MP4 files are also a doddle to edit. Most computers come with basic video editing software – and for those that don’t there are some neat and very cost effective programs that will allow you to chop out the bad bits, add titles, music and effects that will make your home movies much more enjoyable.
  • Easy to store
    Finally, USB sticks take up much less space in our ever-more cluttered lives. They’re certainly much more compact than the videotapes we’ve converted for you.

Costs of converting videotape to MP4

What our clients like most about our videotape to MP4 service is that it costs about the same as converting to DVD. For details on our pricing structure please visit our website section here – www.video-artisan.com/videotape-to-dvd/

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