If you need to be able to send uncompressed 10bit 422 HD video from multiple cameras then you should look into the new system that I got from CineGears.
I have been testing out a lot of different wireless video systems over the years from all of the known and less known brands in the industry. One brand I personally like is CineGears. I’ve used their previous wireless video kits and also a few of their wireless follow focus systems without any issues. This time I started using a new kit they offer that lets you transmit 2 and even 4 video signals from multiple transmitters into one receiver.
The new system that I got is the CineGears Two in One 2000M Full-HD Wireless Video Transmission Kit. I also paired it with the large panel antenna from CineGears which will extend the range of this wireless video system up to 3300 feet. As you can see in my tests I didn’t even get to test it to it’s full range because it was simply way too far for me to go that far away. I really did not see the need to ever need to be able to transmit video at such a range. This whole kit will work great if you are doing a typical film production but even more importantly when you are working on a live event like a sport event where you need multiple cameras in different parts of a stadium to send the signal to the video switcher for live editing.
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The opinions expressed in this video were not influenced by or paid for by any outside individual or company. I use and test lots of products that are sent to me or that I buy myself. In the end, I only talk about the products that I find interesting.
“Raise Hell” is the story of Molly Ivins, the fearless journalist and Texas maverick who spoke truth to power and stopped at nothing, not even death threats, to do her job. Six-foot-tall with flaming red hair, Molly used humor to skewer the powerful, protect the helpless, and to shine a light on bad government.
Perhaps feeling a kinship with the female truth seeker at its center, Kristy told us that this was one of the most inspiring shoots she had the pleasure to be a part of in the documentary world.
“Raise Hell” premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and will be screening at the SXSW festival as a festival favorite.
How did you keep the number of interviews consistent across multiple locations?
It was a really great colorist, Luke Cahill. It turns out we both graduated from the same film school, SUNY Purchase, and that gave us a quick shorthand with each other even though we went there at different times. I spent a couple of days with him specifically trying to match all the different elements together. There were some interviews other people shot; there were some interviews that got shot on different quality of cameras, too. The director and producers started shooting this documentary in 2012 by themselves with a Canon 5D or perhaps a prosumer camera. On documentaries, often times you don’t get an opportunity to sit in a color suite with a colorist. I think to be able to do so really helped.
Tell me about the gear you used?
I went with the Canon C300 Mark I and eventually the Mark II when it became available. I usually try to use Zeiss primes for interviews and Canon zooms for b-roll when you don’t have as much time to switch between prime lenses. That’s another way I tried to keep the interviews consistent in look because that would dictate shooting from a similar distance and giving the image a similar feel.
Did you shoot solo or hire a crew?
For Texas it was mostly me. Sometimes we were able to pick up a friendly local who had, you know, anywhere from zero experience to being a pro. It technically was just me. When we got to New York, I was able to hire a person with some gear who could help me set up which was incredibly helpful, Tom Chavez. My experience in the film business was as a gaffer for many years before I start shooting. Lighting is the easy part for me and sometimes I’m more comfortable just working by myself. Everybody who helped was super great and helpful. A lot of people came to the project because they love Molly Ivins and they’re from Texas. They grew up knowing about her and feel very strongly about her to this day. And again, our colorists was really great and I want to give him props for blending six years of interviews together!
Did you shoot 4K? Did you shoot 1080HD?
I shot 1080HD. I started with the Canon C300 Mark I and those cameras are all eight bit. Eventually, we moved the C300 MKII, which is 10 bit, but for the most part, it was the MKI.
What’s it like coming into a project with interviews already shot?
I had a long talk with the director, Janice, to discuss what she had done, what she had liked and what she wanted to improve on. A lot of this was her and her friends grabbing interviews when they could, but Janice had a strong passionate vision for what she wanted it to feel like. It made it really easy to go with her vision and come up with a way to shoot interviews. I also had in the back of my mind that the with great color correction, we could make it feel even more cohesive.
Describe your process. When you arrive at the shooting location what is the first thing you do?
Usually, when I show up at a location and first meet the subject, the director starts a conversation with them and I start roaming. I try to find a room or space that has some context to the story. I feel that this helps lend more information to the interview so that what you see in the frame helps you develop additional insight. Also, I’m looking to see if there is anything that could help us, like a window in the perfect place. Sometimes you find a room that’s perfect because it gives you context, but you know it’ll be really challenging because it’s small or there isn’t any natural light. After I find an option, I usually bring over the director and we talk about it and start placing chairs in places to find the best frame. Then, I start lighting it. Once the lighting is in the ballpark I want, I’ll have the person sit in to make sure I haven’t overlooked anything that might be challenging for them, like the color of their hair or their facial features and adjust from there. Then, I finish lighting and check the sound level. The way Janice and I worked is she would put the Lavalier mic on people while I was finishing lighting, which was really helpful. After they sit in I would then just assess what to do next. If nothing else needs attention, I will use some oil blotting tissue to matte their face. For me, the easiest way to soften and even out the lighting is really just by de-oiling the people’s faces. If I needed to, I could break out some neutral powder and a big brush too. Then we roll.
People love to talk cameras.
I consider cameras to be more in the realm of film stocks. Canon has a really specific look. Sony has a really specific look. Arri has a really specific look and a RED camera has a specific look. A few of these interviews were shot with a Sony and when those clips would pop up in the color correction session, I would know immediately it was from a Sony camera and then we would work to blend that footage in with our Canon footage. I did some tests between the Sony and the Canon and lenses and filters for a documentary I did before this, Feminists: What Were They Thinking. Coming out of those tests, I thought that the Canon C300 Mark II had nicer, warmer skin tones, which is what I felt like that movie needed. I felt like the Canon look complemented the look of Texas, the big sky, and the warm tones. It just felt truer to Texas to me. I feel like Sony is really beautiful; it’s a true neutral look and it’ss really crisp. Canon has more of a creamy warmth to it that I think really lends itself to documentary filmmaking. And, the camera’ss ability to shoot in very low light was really helpful. At this point, I think I just know Canon like the back of my hand. For me, if you can take away all the technology and just be able to film, you do much better. So, whatever you’re comfortable with is almost better because then you don’t have to worry about some button you might forget about.
How did you find this project?
The editor of a movie I shot, “Feminists What Were They Thinking” was consulting on this project. She said to the director to give me a call and she did. We hit it off over the phone.
How long was this shoot for you?
I think we did a couple of weeks in South Texas, then a week in Austin, Texas. Later, we shot a couple of weeks in New York and then a few days here and there in Los Angeles. It wasn’t all at once.
How do you manage traveling with your gear?
Kristy Tully Travel as lean as you can but have everything you might need. I try to get a layout of all the situations we will be in and I try to come up with the leanest package that will make it easy to flow between all the different situations. I know that I can personally manage three cases in and out of airports. Sometimes I’ll just travel with the old doc kit which is like a bunch of photo correct bulbs from daylight to tungsten and sockets and dimmers. Sometimes that is the easiest way. You shoot naturally and you change light bulbs in the house. I have this Rifa Light I bought in like 1995. It was like the first thing I ever bought when I was a gaffer. It’s so old I had to have it retrofitted because now you can screw in an attachment and use a Kino Flo bulb. In Texas, for example, I took my Rifa with the Kino Flo adapter. If the shot was tungsten I could just open up the umbrella but if it was daylight I could just pop on this adapter and screw in some Kino Flo daylight bulbs. You know the trip through Texas was really amazing and fun. For me, at least in documentaries, a lot of my work is really emotional and really heart wrenching and can be really heavy on the soul. But I feel documentaries are important because of what they let the average person see. This project was just so much fun and Carlisle, Janet and I had the greatest time driving across Texas, meeting Molly’s friends, talking about speaking truth to power, and meeting so many amazing poignant and articulate people. People who really like taking Molly Iven’s work to the modern day of speaking truth to power was really inspiring. It was one of the most inspiring shoots I had the pleasure to be a part of in the documentary world.
Shooters face a bewildering number of choices when it comes to gear. Some of us might prefer a Sony to an Arri or a Panasonic to a Canon, or vice versa. We can argue ad infinitum about which lens offers superior bokeh, or a smoother, blacker, more artsy barrel coating for improved MTF. But there is one thing, one modest inexpensive app for your iPhone or iPad, that is incontrovertible.
Whether on a set in a far-off place or checking out gear at a local rental house, pCam Pro is indispensable for shooters of every stripe. That is because we DPs and videographers have an ongoing need to figure things out, whether it’s a time-lapse frame rate, determining depth of field and hyperlocal distances, or the lens focal length equivalents for different camera formats. In virtually every case where such determinations are required, pCam Pro is the most practical and convenient go-to resource available. For a ridiculously small investment ($29.95), it answers the questions that must be answered every day to support our camera and lighting craft, like verifying a properly illuminated chroma key, or choosing the appropriate camera speed to avoid flicker in HMI (or other discharge lighting) conditions.
In many ways, pCam Pro is a film school in itself, offering 24 core functions that calculate and compare focal length, field of view, depth of field, hyperfocal distance, and more for virtually every camera spec, imager size, and format. The updated pCam Pro 2.0 adds support for automatic updating for new cameras, real-time dynamic calculations, diagonal focal length matching, and a boatload of other things.
The original pCam app, introduced in 2009, was certainly versatile. A labor of love from assistant cameraman David Eubank, pCam began life as an obscure Palm Pilot app in 1998. A decade later, the classic pCam app emerged, built on Apple’s iOS 2.0. Since then, with the advent of server-based databases, dynamic calculations, and the umpteen built-in math routines necessary to support 10 different screen sizes, the old pCam app could no longer keep pace.
pCam Pro offers a simple, easy-to-understand interface with superior graphics. If you need to communicate effectively to others, or need to calculate, say, the duration and screen time of a time-lapse sequence, pCam Pro is the tool of choice. Use it, and use it often, to educate yourself and those around you.
In January, after more than two years in development, Eubank introduced the all-new pCam Pro. Built from the ground up on the robust iOS 12 platform, the updated pCam contains a slew of new features. In addition to the classic functions like shutter/frame rate and filter exposure compensation, the latest iteration features automatic updates to accommodate new camera formats, blue- and green-screen color-adjustable VFX markers, diagonal focal-length matching, black and white insert slates, four Siemens test charts for setting back focus, and a boatload of other things.
In my own corporate and documentary work, I use pCam Pro to match the panoply of camera formats and lens focal lengths commonly found on jobs today — such as, in my case, when utilizing a Panasonic EVA1 and GH5 and a Canon 5D Mk IV DSLR in the same setup. Employing such a range of cameras and formats presents a challenge if we must also match field of view and lens focal length. pCam Pro accommodates every camera and screen size in existence — even custom ones, with a preview image to verify the calculation and the desired look.
The compelling graphics offer another not-so-obvious advantage. pCam Pro’s calculations are elegantly displayed, and that’s cool. But there is something else. Many times, DPs, videographers, and lighting designers are required to communicate their technical requirements to others, and in many cases words alone can only go far. Suspicious producers who question everything we say are much more likely to accept as credible a compelling graphic or screenshot from pCam Pro.
From left: 1) Field of View with Preview matches shots based on distance and focal length. Eight preview illustrations are included with the app, along with the most useful safe-area masks: 90%, 92%, and 95%. The portrait-mode option is thoughtful, given many iPhone shooters’ naturally vertical orientation. 2) Depth of Field calculates near, far, total, and hyperfocal distances for virtually any format camera format known, or yet to be known, by man. The updated pCam version also features automatic server updates to accommodate new cameras, and the ability to make incremental changes to focal length and focal distance. 3) It is increasingly common these days on jobs to utilize cameras with different formats and frame sizes. Focal Length Match provides the lens-matching information, taking into consideration the various vertical, horizontal, and diagonal dimensions. FLM is also useful for DPs and cinematographers following a techie scout, as the equivalent focal length cine lens may be determined based on a still photo camera-lens combination.
As a curmudgeon and skinflint (I never offer to pay for gas on my trips to Family Dollar with my one friend) it isn’t often that I can recommend a tool so unequivocally. Whether you’re a student or teacher, whether you work in a rental house or are a seasoned ASC cinematographer, pCam Pro is as essential to our professional lives as mother’s milk is to a newborn.
So yes, I never leave home without my iPhone and my pCam Pro app. Now, if I only can remember to charge the phone and get someone else to pay my utility bill ….