December 23, 2010

Panasonic will buy your 1st 3D film

Make a short 3D film with Panasonic's AG-3DA1 integrated 3D camcorder and you could have it bought by the manufacturer for €4,000.

It has set up a programme to encourage professional 3D production and wants users to submit their first short film, which it will use for promotion over the next two years. The programme is open to European production companies or independent professionals (whether cameramen or directors), and is not aimed at consumers.

To qualify, the AG-3DA1 must have been purchased between 1 December 2010 and 31 March 2011 (and registered with the programme by 15 April 2011). The production must be produced with this newly bought AG-3DA1E and saved to a 3D-BluRay or BluRay (side by side) disc. Only one production per camcorder can be submitted.

The film must be creative and demonstrate innovation and artistic flair, and must be between three and four minutes long. It can be in any language, but must not include any advertising or any material subject to third-party rights. Productions containing "morally harmful content will not be accepted."

"Innovations in technology show that, this time, the third dimension is here to stay. 3D is delivering dynamic, engaging content and transforming both the viewing experience and the industry as a whole. This initiative is designed to encourage filmmakers to produce new and exciting content and support the industry as it advances into the 3D world," said Adrian Clarke, General Manager, Panasonic AVSE.

By David Fox

December 21, 2010

Rolling shutter artefacts: fix it in post

HD DSLR and CMOS camcorders suffer from rolling shutter effects during camera moves – but this can now be rescued in post.

Anyone who pans a DSLR while shooting video will notice that any vertical lines in shot lean over. On some DSLRs you can barely move the camera without this happening. It is a fault inherent in the way CMOS sensors are read out. It can be addressed if the manufacturer uses higher clock rates, but is difficult to avoid completely.

It is, thankfully, something that can be fixed in post (although rarely perfectly), with a variety of software plug-ins. These range from high-end products, such as The Foundry's RollingShutter (costing £300 for After Effects or its own Nuke compositor); or more affordable varieties, such as CoreMelt’s Lock & Load X ($149 for Final Cut Pro and After Effects), and its latest $79 version, Lock & Load Express, which is the first stabiliser for Final Cut Express.

This sort of software can be surprisingly effective, even the stabilisation option in Apple's latest version of iMovie can restore demented verticals (as Philip Bloom demonstrates on his blog).

As a mid-range option, Lock & Load Express can give hand held footage "a professionally shot steady cam quality instantly without the need to set tracking points," claimed CoreMelt founder, Roger Bolton. It is not as sophisticated as the version for Final Cut Pro, which is claimed to be "one of the fastest video stabilizers available" at least 12 times the speed of FCP's built-in stabiliser (whereas the express version is just six times as fast as FCP), and offers more advanced tracking features (including keyframes and background processing). Lock & Load Express has presets for the main HD DSLRs, CMOS camcorders such as Sony's EX1, and the likes of Apple's iPhone or the Flip HD.

By David Fox

Three-day Advanced 3D course

Advanced 3D – The National Stereoscopic 3D Training Programme, a course presented by Principal Large Format in association with Talking Point and funded by Skillset and Sky, will take place in London in January.

It is a two-part course. Part 1 will be held at BAFTA on January 25 for up to 220 attendees. The day will cover what you need to know to decide if a particular project is right for 3D, which 3D rig you should use, and the impact that your decisions have on design, post production, budget and schedule.

Part 2 on January 26 and 27 will be held at Twickenham Studios for up to 35 attendees (who also have to attend the opening day). This will provide a hands-on, guide to 3D movie making, using popular 3D rigs, as well as monitoring, recording and post-production tools.  3D equipment will be provided by On Sight, SGO Mistika, Telegenic and Mytherapy. Networking drinks and 3D screenings will take place on all three days.

“With the rapid growth of 3D gaming, cinema and the exciting launch of 3D TV, spearheaded by Sky, there are a wide range of creative and commercial opportunities. However, to position the UK as a true centre of 3D excellence, it’s essential that programme makers invest themselves in the art of 3D, so that we create world leading content.  That’s why we’re supporting valuable training programmes such as this," said Brian Lenz, Sky’s Director of TV Product Development.

PLF founder Phil Streather (pictured above speaking at IBC) said that the two-stage nature of the course is one of the things that make it unique. “On the first day at BAFTA the sessions will take place in a 3D cinema as a stand-alone module, and we expect to host a broad range of broadcast, movie and advertising industry professionals to discuss everything from lens choices to budget implications. Then, on days two and three, we will take a smaller group of DoPs, First ACs, VFX Supers, Editors, Directors and Producers to apply some of the insights gained on the first day to real-world 3D content production.”

Streather has been involved in 3D master classes at NAB, IBC, 3D Masters, the Edinburgh International Film Festival and elsewhere. “I have a very practical and clean approach to 3D training. Clear definitions of terms, such as convergence, parallax and depth budget, are combined with hands on experience. I then explore 3D style and storytelling through the screening and analysis of a diverse selection of 3D material. Stereography is a craft science that every head of department involved in 3D production should now become versed [in].”

Day one will cost £250 (plus VAT), while all three days cost £750 (plus VAT).

Related post on our main site: Mastering 3D: The next dimension is closer than you think, is a report from 3D Masters 2010, which includes advice from Streather on convergence (and much more).

By David Fox

Autocue moves into acquisition

The prompter and newsroom automation maker, Autocue, has expanded into the acquisition market, with lighting and camera support.

The new products are designed to go with its popular Starter Series prompters, "as customers [and dealers] want an all-in-one system," said Autocue CEO, Frank Hyman. "Our Starter Series has really taken off, and we’ve gone from zero to more than 50 units per month in six months."

Its lights are "really, really entry level," he said. The range includes LED and softbox lighting kits, with dimmable 1000 and 500 LED lights (£499 and £279 respectively) and stands (£49), plus a three-head softbox lighting kit including case and 12 fluorescent bulbs for £249. There is also an on-camera, 120 LED light for just £109.

Its first two entry-level aluminium tripods are the Heavyweight (£349) with floor spreader and 18kg payload capacity, and Medium-weight (£229) with mid-level spreader and a 6kg payload capacity.

Hyman is particularly pleased with The Glide, a professional, handheld camera stabiliser, manufactured and designed by Autocue (the other items are OEM). It is aimed at cameras weighing from 450g to 2.7kg, and is competitively priced at £549.

The handle has a high quality foam grip and can be docked on a tripod plate. To aid portability, the whole unit folds up flat for storage in its small carry case. "We believe the Glide is the highest quality product on the market," he added.

It has also introduced four modular video servers, "aimed at the affordable end of the market," with prices ranging from £3,000 to £20,000 (depending on I/O ports and storage – up to four channels and 12TB). It can also do RAID systems that are "ideally suited to VTR replacement and secondary applications, such as back up," said Hyman. They currently work with Autocue's own automation system, but will add others later.

"We were originally asked to provide a video server as part of a complete workflow solution for a university. We saw a great opportunity to offer more ports, more storage and more flexibility at a lower cost than existing devices, and have now developed a uniquely different server solution," added CTO, Neil Hutchins.

It is also now offering Grade 2 production monitors, including 17- and 24-inch versions.

By David Fox

December 20, 2010

Prokit now Canon Pro Video Dealer

Canon has appointed Prokit as a Pro Video Dealer, specialising in broadcast approved HD camcorders as well as video-enabled DSLR cameras.

Prokit has a live demonstration facility, with Canon trained staff, at its Chiswick, London showroom. Cameras include the XF305 and new XF105 camcorders, together with the 5D MkII, and EOS 7D HD DSLRs. Prokit also stocks and advises on a wide range of support products for these cameras.

"A growing number of regular Prokit clients have been telling us about their interest in Canon DSLR and HD video systems. They have been asking us to supply and support their use of some of these remarkable products. We are delighted to now be in a position to do so. Additionally, we look forward to an expansive period for us with Canon," said Mark Holmes, Prokit Business Development Director.

We've been buying lights, tripods, and accessories from Prokit, one of our local dealers, for several years, and get PAT tests done there too (Portable Appliance Testing - important for electronic equipment like lights).

It is holding a Canon Open Day at its showroom tomorrow - Tuesday 21st, December 2010, from 11am to 3pm.

3D Experience on course for success

Sony Professional has opened its first European Customer Experience Centre, providing 3D training courses and demonstrations of other equipment.

The centre, at its UK offices in Basingstoke, has already been used for 3D training, with the Guild of Television Cameramen having three one-day courses over the past two weeks (the courses are free to members and were in such demand that a third had to be added).

The Centre is equipped to demonstrate Sony's lens to living room story, and includes 3D rigs and camera systems (pictured above by Christina with three GTC members), a production gallery complete with MPE-200 multi format 3D processor, professional 3D monitors and consumer 3D TV sets.

Besides 3D, there is also a fully functional TV production gallery including the latest switchers and Sonaps system. A further demonstration area will feature Sony's latest software, such as HDXchange, Media Backbone and Ensemble.

“Until now our ability to demonstrate a functional broadcast workflow to customers has been restricted due to the space and equipment requirements. This new Experience Centre will change that, allowing us to work with our customers to understand the issues which they face and working collaboratively to solve them," explained David Bush, Director of Marketing, Sony Professional.

“We know from the Sony 3D Technology Centre in Culver City, USA, that customers are appreciative of being able to experience equipment and improve their skills in a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere. We hope that our European customers will gain the same benefits, from this.”

It is also upgrading its Studio+ facility, which will become a fully fitted cinema complete with 2K, 4K and 3D projectors in January.

Sony has been making "a massive investment" in training and support for dealers. Its current Creatology tour includes training classes, seminars and exhibits all over Europe.

It has also put up a useful series of videos giving an overview and introduction to various aspects of 3D, presented by its 3D trainer, Paul Cameron, who conducted the workshops for the GTC.

By David Fox

Ikonoskop A-Cam dII starts to ship

The first Ikonoskop A-Cam dII digital film camera has been delivered to the Stockholm rental house, Ljud & Bildmedia (pictured receiving the camera).

At least five more cameras should be shipping this month. Ikonoskop has also sent a camera to the BBC for testing.

There is also some new Raw (Adobe Cinema DNG) and ProRes test footage to download for workflow testing (or pixel peeping) at

The big attraction of the A-Cam dII is its size (seriously small), price (about €7,000), its uncompressed tapeless recording, and its use of a single 2/3-inch CCD sensor (so none of the skew and rolling shutter problems typical of CMOS sensors).

For full details on the A-Cam dII have a look at our previous post.

By David Fox

Pro Motion buys Rent and Eurocrew

London-based rental house, Pro Motion Hire has bought Rent, the broadcast hire facility, and Eurocrew Worldwide, the international crewing company, from The Farm Group for a six-figure sum.

Pro Motion doubled its revenues in 2010 and invested more than £1million in new equipment, and this new deal will give it a dedicated base in Soho, the heart of London's production and facilities community, providing a variety of production and post production equipment. Eurocrew also gives it access to a large database of freelance talent around the world.

"The acquisition of Rent and Eurocrew Worldwide makes perfect sense for us as we continue to grow. Both companies have great DNA in the industry, as well as fantastic staff and resources that will be valuable assets to our business," said Duncan Martin, Director, Pro Motion Hire (pictured above).

“We wanted the best for Rent and Eurocrew Worldwide, and Pro Motion Hire is the ideal fit. From our many dealings with Pro Motion, we know they have the focus and expertise to take the companies to the next level of success," added Nicky Sargent, Joint Managing Director, The Farm Group.

Pro Motion also has a regional office in Brighton. Clients include Talkback Thames, Edit Works, Nickelodeon, BME AV, Skyworks and Ricochet. 

By David Fox

Aerial Camera Systems workshop

The Guild of Television Cameramen will be holding a workshop at Aerial Camera Systems in Surrey on January 11, where ACS will demonstrate its SMARTheads (pictured), rail and vehicle-mounted Cineflex and Gyron stabilised heads, and vertical tracking kit.

Numbers will be limited but it is hoped to provide the Guild’s first webcast from a workshop for the benefit of members at large. This will be a specialist workshop, so only open to GTC members with a practical knowledge of outside broadcast and studio work.

SDHC card to SxS adapter

Sonnet Technologies has introduced an SDHC Adapter for SxS Camera Slot, for use in Sony XDCAM camcorders that use SxS memory cards for recording. The adapter enables the use of Class 10 or faster SDHC cards in place of SxS cards, giving the performance required for HD recording modes while allowing users to make big savings on the purchase of memory.

The Adapter costs $49.95, so users could buy multiple large capacity SDHC cards for less than a single SxS card, allowing them to shoot longer without having to offload footage, reformat, and then reuse the same SxS card.

Unlike standard memory card adapters it allows the SD card to fit flush inside, which means it is interchangeable with SxS cards, and it ensures that the camcorder's memory card slot door closes completely with the adapter inserted.

Because SxS cards share the same form factor and interface as ExpressCard/34 adapters, the Sonnet adapter can be inserted directly into a laptop's ExpressCard slot to read the SDHC card, or the cards can be read in any SDHC card reader.

By David Fox 

December 17, 2010

Panasonic AF101 in high demand

A few buyers of Panasonic's new AG-AF101 (AF100) camcorder may get them in time for Christmas, but anyone ordering now could be in for a long wait.

Demand for the large-sensor camera has been much higher than expected. "The first shipment has been well over sold. The second shipment is probably pre-sold too," said Richard Payne, Technical Business Development, at Holdan, Panasonic's UK distributor (whose video discussing the advantages of the AF100/AF101, shot by Martin Kay using an AF101 and Zeiss 35mm Compact Prime, is above).

Anyone ordering one now would be unlikely to receive it before the end of January, and perhaps even later. Some of its dealers have ordered hundreds of them.

"I've never seen so much demand for pre orders for something no one has seen yet. It's been very unusual," he added. He believes the biggest attraction of the camera is "mainly the ability to produce creative depth of field on a camera costing about £4,000."

He has spent some time with a pre-production model, and says: "It is fabulous. It's as good as I expected it to be." He hopes to buy one himself, and has been demonstrating it to possible customers, such as the National Film and Television School, where it was put through low-light tests in just candlelight. The results looked so good that Brian Tufano, the cinematographer of Billy Elliot, Trainspotting and many TV dramas (who also teaches at the NFTS), said he'd like to use it to shoot a feature film.

It is possible that Holdan will be able to get some shipments to dealers just before Christmas, but most won't have them until the week of the 27th.

Panasonic AG-AF100 / AF101 from UrbanFox.TV on Vimeo.

Key features of the AF100/AF101 include:
  • a Micro Four Thirds sensor (almost as large as a 35mm movie frame)
  • ability to be used with a wide range of lenses, including Zeiss Compact Primes and stills lenses via adaptors 
  • 24Mbps AVCHD recording onto SD cards, but with HD-SDI and HDMI outputs for 4:2:2 recording
  • variable frame rate recording for slow and fast motion
  • it has none of the aliasing or moirĂ© effects seen on HD DSLR cameras (as it uses an optical filter to reduce the resolution and smooth out any possible defects)
  • it also has lots of useful video features (that you won't find on DSLRs), such as peaking, waveform display, various gamma modes, internal optical neutral density filters, uncompressed audio with XLR inputs, and timecode input/output.

Related posts: Panasonic's HD DSLR killer + New Panasonic AF100/AF101(updated)

By David Fox

December 14, 2010

World's first HD DSLR EVF ships

South Korean camera accessories manufacturer, Cineroid, is the first to ship an electronic viewfinder attachment for DSLRs, ahead of Zacuto and Redrock.

"It's shipping this month. Any others that have been shown won't be shipping until Spring," said Tony O'Connor, director of Cineroid's exclusive distributor for the UK and Ireland, Octica.

An EVF has been a major request from video users of DSLRs, who want to be able to work in the way they have been used to with traditional camcorders, rather than being forced to be in line with the lens, as they generally are with the camera's LCD or a loupe viewfinder attachment.

The Cineroid EFV-4L includes HDMI loop through, so it can also be used with a separate HDMI monitor for others to view while the DLSR user looks through the viewfinder. The EFV-4L also offers Peaking and Pixel Mapping to make focusing easier, as well as Underscan and audio out via a stereo 3.5mm phono jack or mixed mono via an integral speaker.

The 3.2-inch, 800x400 resolution, wide-angle LCD screen is fitted into a lightweight, compact single unit viewfinder design, and boasts "an intelligent menu" with user settable memory keys. The detachable Loupe also flips up to allow the screen to be used as a monitor.

It is supplied as a kit in a carry bag with an HDMI cable, mini ball head, battery and charger, and can be attached to any shooting set up via a hot shoe or articulated arm, and costs £549.

Octica is also exclusive UK distributor for Chrosziel, Bebob and Protech, and will be introducing other products from Cineroid, including a new wireless follow focus, next year.

By David Fox

OConnor supports Modern Family

Cinematographer James Bagdonas ASC has chosen OConnor fluid heads to support the new season of the US mockumentary, Modern Family. "I’ve been using OConnor fluid heads my entire career,” said Bagdonas (pictured). “I’ve had them on Lois and Clarke, The Guardian, Chicago Hope and Boston Legal. With my last two shows they have become the only head we use. For the style of this show, we decided to shoot with Panavised [Sony] F35 cameras and either Primo or Optimo [Angenieux] zooms.

“With having to whip pan constantly, our operators need to keep one hand on the zoom lens at all times for constant changes. The fluid head is the only answer. With OConnor’s superior balance at any angle, these moves are possible. With many of the new camera systems, the lenses usually outweight the camera. Only the OConnor will handle this with no problem.

“Many of the shots are not rehearsed and, at times, the operators even have to grab the focus knob,” added Bagdonas. “A good example would be the Dumphy kitchen scenes. We usually have four to six people all moving about the business of the day, going into the refrigerator, getting something from the cabinets. In this fray, we sometimes try to go for their hands or pan with a look to a POV and other opportunities that just ‘happen.’ That’s where the 2575 is essential. No other fluid head has such great balance through a wide range of motion.

“At times, I change to the new OConnor 120 EX head, especially on the heavier zoom lenses. For a head that was designed to carry more weight, this 120 EX still gives you a lightweight feel.”

Modern Family, a 20th Century Fox produced comedy series, has garnered over 20 award nominations and four wins, and airs on ABC in the US and Sky One in the UK.

By David Fox

December 06, 2010

New, faster format for Compact Flash

Sony, Nikon and SanDisk have developed a new high-speed specification for CompactFlash memory cards, making them more suited to HD video recording at higher bitrates, including RAW 3D.

They are proposing a new format rated at up to 500 megabytes per second (4gbps), about three times faster than the latest version of CompactFlash announced last month (CF6.0, which could theoretically reach about 1.33gbps). The proposals have been put to the CompactFlash Association, the international standards organization, with the intent to standardize the format.

The format won't be backwards compatible with existing CF cards, although they will look the same. It will use the versatile PCI Express interface (found in many laptops), while current CF cards use a more limited Parallel ATA interface. The specification is also claimed to offer improved battery performance thanks to a power scaling system.

For HD DSLR cameras, the high-speed cards would allow continuous RAW shooting of high-resolution stills as well as higher quality video.

There has been a previous attempt to introduce a faster, but non-compatible CF card format (using the Serial-ATA interface), called CFast, which was released more than two years ago, but camera manufacturers have not made any models using it. However, with such heavyweights as Sony, Nikon and SanDisk backing it, this system looks more likely to get off the ground, not just as camera storage but also for other data storage as the cards could hold 2TB or more.

This format "will enable further evolution of hardware and imaging applications, and widen the memory card options available to CompactFlash users such as professional photographers,” said the CFA's chairman, Shigeto Kanda, from Canon. “This next generation format is expected to be widely adapted to various products.”

“The ultra high-speed media, which will be realized by this new card format, will expand the capability of digital SLR cameras and other professional digital imaging equipment,” added Kazuyuki Kazami, Nikon VP and general manager for imaging development.

The companies are hoping to introduce cameras using the new cards in the near future, probably during 2011.

By David Fox

Tiny HD camera blends in

LMC (LiveMotionConcept) has introduced what it claims is "the smallest HD CCD camera on the market" – the new Camaeleon.

It uses a 2/3-inch CCD interline transfer progressive scan sensor, and measures just 44x44x53mm, which means it "can be installed at locations where no other camera has gone before."

It is claimed to be extremely light sensitive, offering native HD 1080p pictures (25 or 30p – 8-bit or 10-bit YUV 4:2:2 via HD-SDI). It also boasts 64dB dynamic range, 14-bit signal processing, exposure times of up to 1/100,000 sec, and consumes about 5W of power. It is remote controllable, via RS485 and RS232.

LMC also supplies a box that converts all of the Camaeleon's signals to fibre-optics, houses an integrated HD monitor plus an intelligent battery system and which can optionally transmit all signals via a wireless connection to the OB truck.

Camaeleon should be available in the next few weeks and will be usable with different housings that can adapt to the environment (using a variety of colours and shapes - such as that pictured left), including waterproof and underwater housings for applications like diving, rowing or sailing. Camaeleon can also be used for 3D on a mini-rig. It takes C-mount lenses, or can optionally be fitted with PL or B4 mounts.

LMC's Antelope UltraSlowMotion system was used last week at the Barclays ATP World tour tennis finals, in London. ATP Media apparently chose the system due to its high light sensitivity and its De-Flickering technology.

By David Fox

December 03, 2010

The Hobbit to be Red 3D Epic

Red Digital Cinema's long-awaited Epic 5k camera looks like it is finally going into production, and will be used on Peter Jackson's The Hobbit, which will be shot in 3D using at least 30 Epics.

The Hobbit will start shooting in New Zealand early next year and will use some of the first, hand-machined Epics – full assembly lines probably won't be running before about February, although Red's founder, Jim Jannard, expects that there will be widespread availability by NAB in April.

The first Epic kits, including Epic-M body, titanium PL mount, Bomb EVF, 5-inch touchscreen LCD, a REDmote, four batteries plus charger, and solid state storage with four 128GB SSDs, will cost $58,000.

The Epic promises 5k resolution, up to 120 frames per second recording, and a new HDRx mode for "the highest dynamic range of any digital cinema camera ever made".

Red has taken everything they learned from building the Red One, and then designed Epic from scratch, to produce "a smaller, lighter camera that is an order of magnitude more powerful."

The Hobbit will be one of the first productions to use Epic and Red claims that its "small size and relatively low weight, makes it perfect for 3D – where two cameras have to be mounted on each 3D rig."

Jackson (pictured above with Epic) has been a Red supporter since directing a war movie short, Crossing the Line, as a very early test of prototype Red One cameras. "I have always liked the look of Red footage," he said. "I'm not a scientist or mathematician, but the image Red produces has a much more filmic feel than most of the other digital formats. I find the picture quality appealing and attractive, and with the Epic, Jim and his team have gone even further. It is a fantastic tool, the Epic not only has cutting edge technology, incredible resolution and visual quality, but it is also a very practical tool for film makers. Many competing digital systems require the cameras to be tethered to large cumbersome VTR machines. The Epic gives us back the ability to be totally cable free, even when working in stereo."

Jannard and several of his staff went to New Zealand earlier this year so that Jackson could test Epic and assess its suitability. "Everybody at Red is incredibly proud that Peter has chosen the Epic," Jannard said. "The Hobbit is a major production, and could have chosen any camera system that they wanted. The fact that they went with us is extremely gratifying."

Dynamic pictures

One of the most interesting aspects of Epic is its High Dynamic Range mode, which extends the usable dynamic range of the camera from a little over 13 stops on the M-X sensor, to 18 stops. "Now we're well beating film in terms of its overall latitude," claimed Red's principal spokesman, Ted Schilowitz.

HDRx is simple to enable and shoots "two conjoined frames" that are linked together: a normal exposure and a very fast exposure that protects the highlights (you can select how many stops to protect). "You can choose to use as little or as much of this HDR effect as you want in post production."

It means that users won't have to change their shooting style. "There is really no penalty for shooting HDR, other than a little more data," he claimed. However, it means that if you shoot in 24fps mode, you record 48fps.

This could be substantial, as the 5k image is "more than 60% more data than the 4k image" delivered by the Red One.

Epic is a complete redesign, addressing many of the problems the previous system had, such as cooling. Although it is smaller, it uses a much more efficient cooling engine, which also avoids any electronics getting wet if rain gets in. The camera will also be a lot easier to service, with parts like the fan user replaceable.

Although the camera will ship "when it's ready," it is now functional, and there are only a few minor issues to address. "There is a lot of pent-up demand and desire for a camera that is this small and this powerful," he said.

Epic has a 14megapixel sensor that can do both stills and motion, quickly switching between them.

It is highly modular, but a typical shooting rig will weigh about 4kg, and the body will have three independent monitoring paths or feeds, with the possibility to add more outputs if necessary. Almost every accessory available for the Red One will work with Epic.

Red is building electronic lens mounts for use with PL-mount, Nikon and Canon lenses (Canon L series initially, although it is also working on Tamron and Sigma Canon-mount connections), and it is developing Red lenses that will also have electronic connections. These should be able to autofocus, with touchscreen control for pulling focus, and Schilowitz promises that it will support a wide range of lenses eventually.

For post, it is working on getting its Redrocket accelerator to support 5k files for real-time workflows, which should be done in time for Epic's release.

Related post: Red Scarlet prototype shown working

By David Fox

November 25, 2010

CNN makes leap from DV to HD

CNN is beginning its final push to go completely tapeless, with the purchase of 177 JVC GY-HM100U ProHD camcorders, as it begins to replace hundreds of ageing, tape-based standard definition DV camcorders now in use across CNN’s global operations. It is expected to become tape free in 2011.

The HM100 is a compact, handheld 3-CCD camcorder recording HD video at 35 Mbps in the XDCAM EX MPEG-2 format, which is already used by CNN. The camcorder can record 1920x1080 50/60i or 24/25/30p files in either the .mov or MP4 formats directly onto SDHC memory cards. Recording .mov means that Final Cut Pro users can simply drag the files onto the timeline with no transcoding. It costs about £2,000 ($3,000).

“The GY-HM100 ProHD camcorder is well suited for a fast-paced newsgathering organisation,” claimed Larry Librach, JVC VP, Broadcast & Public Sector. “Its lightweight form factor, sturdy solid-state recording, and high-quality imaging make it an ideal complement to CNN's traditional shoulder-type ENG equipment.”

NEX-VG10E adds AF support

Sony’s large-sensor Handycam NEX-VG10E has gained the ability to autofocus with A-mount lenses from Sony and Carl Zeiss, via a free firmware upgrade.

It will allow autofocus with 14 A-mount SAM and SSM lenses, provided you fit the optional LA-EA1 Mount Adaptor, and do a separate firmware upgrade for the LA-EA1. With an A-mount lens attached to NEX-VG10E, autofocus takes approximately 2 to 7 seconds.

The SAM lenses covered:
·         DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6
·         28-75mm F2.8 
·         DT 55-200mm F4-5.6
·         DT 30mm F2.8 Macro
·         DT 35mm F1.8 
·         DT 50mm F1.8 
·         85mm F2.8

The SSM lenses covered:
·         Vario-Sonnar T* 16-35mm F2.8 ZA
·         Vario-Sonnar T* 24-70mm F2.8 ZA
·         Distagon T* 24mm F2 ZA
·         70-200mm F2.8 G
·         70-300mm F4.5-5.6 G
·         70-400mm F4-5.6 G
·         300mm F2.8 G

November 23, 2010

Bag design throws light on interiors

Petrol Bags has added three new bags to its range – a doctor's bag with interior lighting, a case for lights, and backpack for DSLRs.

The new Black Deca Dr. Bags have a lighting system for the bag’s interior, making contents easier to see during nighttime shoots without resorting to a torch in your mouth or trying to identify a cable using the light from an iPhone.... The battery-powered LED lights are replaceable and easily installed or removed via an internal zipper.

Inspired by a traditional doctor’s bag, the semi-rigid equipment bag is designed to hold a camera and accessories comfortably and securely and offer fast and easy access to its contents. It is made from black 900D and ballistic nylon fabrics, with a floor made from Petrol’s new shock-resistant, moulded AbsorbaPad. Attached by Velcro, it provides extra protection against accidental damage from  jolts. A pattern of ridges and raised dots on the Pad's surface provide extra grip to keep the camera steady. Twin connecting brackets on the bottom of the bag allow for the quick and easy connection of Petrol’s new Snaplock wheel and trolley system (purchased separately).

The design includes: hinged, extra wide opening for fast and easy access to the camera with a mattebox and microphone attached; detachable padded internal dividers for custom configuration; bottom panels of shockproof, cold-moulded laminate for extra equipment protection; exterior side pockets for additional storage; U-Grip interlock carrying handle; adjustable, ergonomic padded shoulder strap; and dual directional easy-glide zippers. The Deca Dr. Bag is available in six models, to fit compact camcorders or full-size broadcast cameras. 

Light Case

The new Deca Light Case  is a lightweight, semi-hard carrier that holds up to four light heads and four stands (up to 88cm). Five internal cushioned dividers separate the main chamber into sections for storing heads, cables and gels. The dividers can be removed to create a single large compartment.

Features include: rugged twin side handles; an ergonomic interlock carrying handle; and dual-directional, easy glide zippers. The exterior is constructed of heavy-duty water-resistant 900D and ballistic nylon fabrics. On the bottom, twin connecting brackets allow for the quick and easy connection of Deca’s new Snaplock wheel and trolley system.

There is also a smaller model for three light heads and stands up to 73cm long.

Digiback Backpack

The top lid of the new Digiback DSLR Backpack unzips to reveal an upper compartment contoured to fit a DSLR camera with the lens attached. When outfitted with a telephoto or other extra long lens, the camera can be inserted with the lens in a vertical position. The spacious lower chamber has ample room for accessories.

Removable internal dividers help secure contents and create pockets for holding a mattebox, camera plate, follow focus, extra lenses, camera light, spare batteries, viewfinder, and more. There’s also space for holding a laptop. The contents are cushioned by layers of padded brushed polyester, and double-sided exterior monopockets offer additional storage.

The integral backpack system uses breathable 3D mesh, with padded shoulder straps and adjustable sternum and waist straps, and cushioned back support. Contents are accessible from either side, and a rear zipper completely exposes the pack’s interior.

By David Fox

CamCage seeks Kickstart support

An animator has created an interesting new low-cost camera cage that will be produced if prospective purchasers pledge the $20,000 he needs.

The CamCage Mini is a softly rounded aluminium camera bracket that securely surrounds your camera on three sides with handles and is joined by two brackets that can carry the camera and accessories.

The initial $20,000 needed for the first production run of 125 units is being gathered through the new US-based Kickstarter project, which requires prospective users to pledge money – they will then be the first to get their hands on the units (although nothing is paid over until the full amount is reached, which has to be before the cut-off deadline in this instance of December 14).

The $160 CamCage Mini can fit any camera that is 12.5cm high (plus the quick release plate), which includes many compact camcorders and almost all DSLRs, such as the Canon 5D Mark II. It weighs 660g.

Its maker, Bryan Evans, who works in the animation business in Los Angeles, believes that it will be ideal for extreme sports, such as skating, diving, surfing or any action filming with camera movement, which it helps stabilize. "The curved handles have incredible strength and great grip feel to inspire confidence in the field or studio," he claimed.

"When I shoot video I like to move the camera and get a variety of angles, and this lead me to look at camera holders of all kinds. I did quite a bit of research and was struck by two things: first, almost all of them are really expensive; and, second, they weren't really designed for the human hand. So I decided to build my own," he explained. "It gives your camera more handle area than any other camera rig in existence at a lower cost."

Evans built prototypes out of inexpensive PVC pipe and has put a DIY CamCage video on his site if anyone wants to build their own – for about $30 in materials ( "In the end, I wanted something stronger, with larger diameter tubes for better handgrip," so he turned to metal, which lead to "an entirely new bracket design, which is an open accessory platform. You can put microphones, lights, monitors, audio recorders (I've used the Zoom H4 and H1 both); anything that attaches to a quarter-inch thread or a one-inch tube works great on this." He envisages versions for larger cameras if this one is a success.

[UPDATE: Funding was unsuccessful on the Kickstarter project, however, CamCage is going ahead with limited production runs - and the standard unit is available for pre-order at $159 flat pack or $199 fully assembled]

By David Fox

LDK8300, Phantom, Alexa awarded

Both Grass Valley and Vision Research have won Technical Emmys for slow-motion cameras, while Arri has won an HPA award for its Alexa.

It is Grass Valley's 17th Technical Emmy Award, this time for the design and implementation of its LDK 8300 HD Live Super SloMo camera system.

Since its was introduced in 2008, the LDK 8300 has been used extensively at major sporting events, such as the 2008 Summer Olympics, 2010 Winter Olympics, and 2010 World Cup, and is widely used throughout Europe for live slow motion.

“The Grass Valley LDK 8300 is unique in its ability to deliver extremely high-quality images at multiple frame rates, allowing it to be used as a standard HD camera and for captivating slow motion effects at 2x or 3x speed,” said Jeff Rosica, Senior Vice President of Grass Valley. “This latest recognition by NATAS is a testament to our engineering team in Breda, The Netherlands and countless others who have made the LDK 8300 such a resounding success within the global production community. We set the standard in 3x Super Slow-Motion in SD with our LDK 23 camera system and now we’ve set a new standard in HD with the LDK 8300.”

Probably the most interesting technology it uses it is AnyLight flicker reduction, which compensates for the flicker caused by artificial lighting and enables it to cope with the uncertainties of stadium lighting (which can often have different types of lights flickering at different rates).

Ultra Slow

The high-speed Vision Research HD Phantom camera won its Emmy from NATAS in the same category as the LDK 8300. “We are truly honored to receive this distinguished award,” said Andy Jantzen, Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of Vision Research.  “The ultra-slow-motion technology we created has been widely adopted in sporting and other live events around the world, including the Super Bowl, World Series, Olympics, World Cup and the Commonwealth Games.  Our technology also is used in television commercials and motion pictures and is a key component of the 3D imaging that can now be seen in many Hollywood films.

The technology being recognised can be found in the Phantom v640 digital high-speed camera when used for broadcast applications (as well as in the v12.1 and v710). The v640 (pictured left) can record at speeds of up to 2,700 frames per second at 1920x1080, allowing ultra-slow-motion replay.

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' 2010 Technical and Engineering Emmys will be given to both Grass Valley and Vision Research at the 2011 CES Show in Las Vegas in January, in the category of HD Super Slow Motion System for Acquisition, Recording and Playback for Broadcast Entertainment and Sports Production.

Alexa Excellence

Arri has won the Hollywood Post Alliance first Engineering Excellence Award given for an acquisition system, for its Alexa camera.

The Arri Alexa (right) is the first camera to support the recording of Apple ProRes 4444, 422 (HQ), LT or PROXY encoded images onto on-board SxS memory cards for Direct To Edit delivery. This means that no transcoding or re-wrapping is required for editing in Final Cut Pro. Avid Media Access also supports ProRes for Media Composer 5, allowing time and cost savings. Productions can also record in uncompressed HD or ArriRAW with QuickTime/ProRes off-line editing proxies created directly in the camera.

“We are honoured that the Alexa camera has been recognized by the HPA for Engineering Excellence. Arri has always focused on providing the highest quality cameras with convenience, reliability and ruggedness to meet the demanding needs of production. In the digital world, this commitment extends to providing convenient and compatible workflows to support post production," said Glenn Kennel, President of Arri.

By David Fox

November 22, 2010

BBC buys 50 Canon XF305 cameras

The BBC's DV Solutions department has ordered 50 units of Canon's XF305 compact HD camcorder from CVP, the largest supplier of Canon HD equipment in the UK.

The XF300 and XF305 are already selling well to independent production companies, as the cameras are the most affordable models approved for HD use by the BBC. The new order positions the XF305 as the successor to Sony's HVR-Z1 tape-based HDV camcorder, which became the most popular compact camcorder for SD production after DV Solutions had bought large numbers.

The XF300 and XF305 are the first compact camcorders to record internally at a 50Mbps data rate, one of the requirements the BBC has for HD broadcast applications. It records onto solid-state Compact Flash cards.

"We are delighted that the BBC has placed this order with us as it clearly demonstrates that not only is the Canon XF305 the BBC's preferred handheld HD camcorder but that CVP is the BBC's preferred supplier," said Phil Baxter, CVP's CEO.

The BBC has also chosen Sony XDCAM EX PMW-350 and Sony PMW-500 models as its new shoulder-mounted 2/3-inch ENG cameras for news and current affairs (see the full story at TVB Europe). The PMW-500 is the first XDCAM EX solid-state camcorder to record at 50Mbps and has the same form factor as the PMW-350 (which records at up to 35Mbps).

By David Fox

Sony shows Super 35mm NXCAM

Sony has shown a potential spoiler for Panasonic's AG-AF100/AF101 that boasts a larger Super 35mm sensor for desirable shallow depth of field shots and 50p recording.

This will be an entry-level digital cinema camera, recording AVCHD at 24Mbps – however, full details are still sketchy and where Panasonic offers 50p/60p recording (on its high-end consumer SD700 and TM700 camcorders) it uses 28Mbps MPEG4-AVC/H.264 recording, which is not part of the AVCHD standard. The S35 NXCAM will also have uncompressed 10-bit 4:2:2 output through HD-SDI and/or HDMI.

The camera will use an E-mount interchangeable lens system identical to the Alpha series lens system used on the NEX-5 and NEX-3 stills/video cameras and Handycam NEX-VG10. It will also be possible to fit A-mount lenses via a lens adaptor, and PL-mount lenses with another adaptor (which may be part of the package). There are also other third-party lens adaptors to allow the camera to be used with lenses from the likes of Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Leica.

Besdes 50p (and presumably 60p), it will also record 25p (and 30/24p), although Sony currently seems to be planning separate European (25/50p) and US (24/30/60p) versions rather than a single worldwide model.

It will use a Super 35mm-sized CMOS sensor, apparently the same sensor as on the PMW-F3, and record to SDHC or Memory Stick media. It will have two-channel uncompressed audio and its design is based on a lot of feedback it got at IBC when it showed the VG10, so it will have XLR audio connections, improved ergonomics, and a wider range of recording formats. List price should be about €6,000 and it is expected to ship sometime after NAB, which is in April.

Related posts: Sony PMW-F3: Budget filmmaking?, Panasonic AF100 / AF101 - the movieSony's HD DSLR in a HandycamSony embarks on 35mm camera development + Sony NEX-FS100 takes on DSLRs

By David Fox

November 12, 2010

Chrosziel adapts to 3D and DSLRs

German accessory specialist, Chrosziel, has announced support for the new Panasonic AG-3DA1 3D camcorder, as well as new DSLR and related products.

The AG-3DA1 fits on the same Chrosziel Light Weight Support (LWS 401-415) as used with the Panasonic HVX-200 / 200A. The MatteBox MB 450R2 Super Wide and the MB 456 Academy (Chrosziel’s recommended combination) can be used, as can any other Chrosziel MatteBox with at least 5-inch filter holders. Using 5-inch filters means that the angle of rotation is fully unrestricted, causing no vignetting. It has developed Light Prevention Rings with masks that follow the outer shape of the dual lenses for 130mm (Super Wide and Academy) and 142.5mm connections.

Chrosziel LWS with hand grip on Sachtler Cine DSLR plate

Its new €69 Adaptor Plate Sachtler 401-400-CDS allows the use of all of Chrosziel's LightWeight Supports on the tripod plate of the recently introduced Sachtler Cine DSLR head. The long wedge plate with twist stop directly takes cameras or lenses with tripod thread. The new adaptor plate means that Follow Focus and MatteBox can be used. The plate uses the fixed rear twist stop of the Sachtler wedge plate and is fixed with the existing 1/4-inch screw. On the Chrosziel Support, the adapter is fixed twist-safe with two provided 1/4-inch screws.

The slideable slot-nut in the Chrosziel LWS bottom also allows the use of the Handgrip DSLR, the Chrosziel shoulder brace Balancer and Shoulder Pad proVideo (with the adapter in the foremost position) without the need to take off the Sachtler wedge plate, so that users can change from tripod to shoulder in a second. With this Adapter Plate, both HD DSLR and video cameras can use this Sachtler head.

Its new €19 accessory clamp, the DSLR 3310, has been developed for its DSLR handle. There are rarely enough 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch connections to fix accessories when you shoot with HD DSLR cameras, so the new clamp slides onto the handgrip rod and is fixed with a screw in the desired position. It provides two 3/8-inch threads, one of them with a 1/4-inch insert. The clamp also fits on all LightWeight Supports with standard diameter 15mm and can thus e.g. take an articulating arm to carry the receiver of a remote control.

By David Fox

Indie shows 3D in the RAW

Vienna-based IndieCam has a new, modular 3D system ideal for Indie filmmakers, with small cameras and the ability to record RAW video.

The tiny 1080p 50/60 cameras output a 10-bit RAW file, using Adobe's Cinema DNG format. The prototype system uses single 2/3-inch CCD sensors that produce a 12-bit signal, going through an in-camera look-up table, which means it is not just a linear translation, so it can retain more of the 12-bit goodness. It can also output YUV 4:2:2.

The small cameras mean the rig could have an interaxial distance of just 40mm (although that depends on the size of the C-mount lenses used).

It is also developing its own Shuttle recorder that can record the RAW files and acta as a camera controller. The Shuttle has two HD-SDI inputs, and multiple power outputs, for monitors, etc., but IndieCam is also designing a remote control system for it, which would give users the option of recording on another HD-SDI recorder, such Convergent Design's nanoFlash or the AJA Ki Pro Mini. "It is not necessary to use the camera heads with our Indie Shuttle system," said Peter Niklas, software and hardware development (pictured).

Camera aids include histograms or zebra stripes, and it can create anaglyph previews on its 7-inch monitor. The LCD is sunlight readable and will come in DVI or SDI versions.

The full system is expected to cost less than €40,000. Although the camera heads are available now, in limited quantities, the recorder and controller will probably not be ready until NAB. The remote control should be available this month.

The system has been used on a few projects so far, including one multicam shoot with 12 3D rigs.

Related post: IndieGS2K global shutter camera

By David Fox

November 11, 2010

Financial markets rise on HD news

Business TV specialist, Globelynx has upgraded fixed camera sites in London's financial centre to meet demand for HD coverage from Sky News.

It has delivered its first HD TV broadcast in collaboration with Colt, providing a live HD feed from the trading floor at spread betting and CFD (Contracts for difference) provider, CMC Markets’ offices in the City of London, allowing its presenter to deliver hourly live reports throughout the market day for a special feature on the City.

A permanent Colt link connects CMC Markets to Globelynx Network’s master control switch using uncompressed 1.5GB broadcast circuits over its London metro network, which has been designed specifically for HD, requiring a five-fold increase in bandwidth compared to standard definition, as well as offering low latency and jitter.

The Globelynx fixed camera network is used for live TV interviews from the business and financial sectors without requiring satellite truck deployment or travel by interviewees to studios. To meet the new demand for news in HD, Globelynx is now upgrading some of its camera sites and plug in facilities, which are located at the offices of leading banks and other businesses across London, apparently accounting for 80% of all in-office broadcasting systems in London. During 2010, Globelynx has also expanded into Holland and will soon be setting up in France, using connectivity from Colt. 

”Our close working relationship with Colt has allowed us to respond promptly to the demand from our camera-using customers and from Sky News for full broadcast quality HD feeds of live business news and analysis. We are delighted with the on air results," said David FitzGerald, Globelynx CEO.

Terry Quigley, head of Industry Practices at Colt added: “HD TV demands a real step-change in bandwidth from standard definition and we are delighted to be supporting Globelynx on its first live HD deployment. We are seeing increasing demand for HD information delivery from across the broadcast sector.”

By David Fox

November 10, 2010

Shoulder stabiliser with Endura-nce

IDX Technology's new Shoulder Stabilisation System for hand-held cameras offers users the extra power of IDX’s high-capacity Endura batteries.

It is designed for use with camcorders and HD DSLRs and is based around an A-CA74E shoulder adaptor base, on which the camera position can be adjusted for balance. It has a cushioned shoulder pad and an adjustable, rear battery plate for attaching an optional P-V series plate, which allows the connection of a V-Mount battery.

The A-HG74 handgrip support option has three cushioned, adjustable handles, two at the front and a third at the rear to add support to the chest area. The A-HG74 has an integrated tripod adaptor for attaching the system to a standard tripod.

There are three optional V-Mount plates that take the battery’s 14.4v output and convert it to: 5v or 7.3v for a range of Panasonic, JVC and Canon models; 12v for the Sony EX series; or 8.4v for other Sony camera models (it is pictured fitted to a JVC GY-HM100). There are seven optional DC cables that connect from the regulated D-Tap of the P-V plate and plug into the camera battery channel or power input terminal. Each P-V plate has a second D-Tap output for lights or audio accessories.

By David Fox

Correct 3D errors + convert 2D-3D

The new Teranex VC1 production toolkit corrects errors inherent in beam-splitter rigs and does real-time 2D to 3D video conversion.

The newly introduced package comprises of two main software applications that build on the dual-channel architecture of the Teranex VC100 hardware platform. They are: The VC1-3DTK 3D toolkit, which enables broadcasters to correct any errors arising from using a dual-camera beam-splitter or mirror rigs; and the VC1-2D-3D Advanced Stereoscopic Processor, which takes care of the 2D to 3D conversion.

The VC1-3DTK 3D can correct and resolve many 3D production issues. It provides 3D synchronisation to ensure right and left eye streams are perfectly time-locked even when sourced from non-genlocked cameras. It does horizontal and vertical flipping, pixel-accurate horizontal and vertical positioning, axial rotation, colour-correction and adjustment of video signal parameters to match right and left eye streams. It will also do 3D logo insertion with X, Y and Z positioning.

The VC1-2D-3D stereoscopic image generator gives the ability to repurpose 2D content for 3D distribution or mix 2D archives with 3D content It can also insert 3D logos with adjustable horizontal, vertical and depth position.

Two encoding/decoding processors are also available. The VC1-3D-ENC encoder converts 3D image content into the main stereoscopic formats, such as side-by-side, top/bottom and checkerboard streams. The VC1-3D-DEC decodes from these formats back into separate right and left image channels.

Existing VC100 users will be able to upgrade their systems with the new software. The VC100 platform is an HD/SD universal frame synchroniser supporting 107 format conversion configurations (expandable to 257). It is available in single or dual-channel versions, with composite and component video in/out, analogue and AES-digital audio in/out plus expanded format and frame-rate conversion support including linear HD standards conversion. Additional features include aspect ratio conversion with active fill information, video indexing with active format description, full SD 608 and HD 708 closed-caption conversion support, colour correction, logo insertion, integral video and audio test signal and timecode generation, all under local or IP-based remote control.

The VC1 production toolkit and real-time 2D to 3D video converter is available in the UK through Teranex distributor, Preco Broadcast Systems.

For a comprehensive report on the powerful 2D to 3D conversion this can do, have a look at Adrian Pennington's article for TVB Europe.

By David Fox

Rory Peck Awards 2010

[Updated with winners] Broadcasters increasingly rely on freelancers to go to places that they are reluctant to send their own staff, to bring back stories that would otherwise not be told, something demonstrated by the finalists at this month's Rory Peck Awards.

The Awards, which recognise the skill and achievement of freelance cameramen and camerawomen in international news and current affairs, take place on November 17 at London’s BFI Southbank.

The finalists also show how freelancers have raised the bar technically, demonstrating what small cameras can do in difficult situations.

The face of conflict - up close, personal and intimate – dominates the films short-listed for the two awards for News and for Features, with stories from Bangkok, Kyrgyzstan, Zimbabwe and both sides of the conflict in Afghanistan.

The struggle of everyday life away from conflict characterises the shortlist for the Sony Professional Impact Award, with stories showing the human face of illegal immigration in the US and Guatemala, the plight of Roma gypsy children forced to steal and beg, and the harsh reality of life for children in the slums of Mumbai.

“The standard and range of entries to this year’s awards show that the freelance community is vibrant and thriving,” said Tina Carr, Director of the Rory Peck Trust. “Every year we are impressed by the level of commitment, drive and courage. Many of this year’s finalists worked under extremely difficult circumstances to produce extraordinary stories."

“We have three extremely moving films on this year’s Sony Professional Impact shortlist,” added Olivier Bovis, Sony Professional’s AV Media Business Head, and one of the judges for the Sony Professional Award. “I was particularly impressed with the way the finalists translated the emotion of what they saw through the camera lens. Each of them managed to articulate the human dimension of their stories in a way that had real impact - and that’s not easy to achieve."

Finalists – The Rory Peck Award For Features 2010

Hopewell Rugoho Chin'ono for A Violent Response - Shot in Zimbabwe and part self funded with Television International for K24. Some footage has been broadcast by ITN.

Najibullah Quraishi (pictured above), won the award for Behind Enemy Lines - Shot in Afghanistan; Clover Films for Channel 4 - Dispatches

Paul Refsdal, for Taliban: Behind The Masks - Shot in Afghanistan; Novemberfilm and Norwegian Film Institute for NRK

Finalists - The Rory Peck Award For News 2010

Roger Arnold, won the award for Bangkok Street Protests, Thailand, for Wall Street

Robin Forestier-Walker, for Kyrgyzstan, for Aljazeera English

Greg Brosnan / Jen Szymaszek, for In the Shadow of the Raid - Shot in Guatemala and the US, and part self-funded with support from the Institute for Justice and Journalism Fund. Broadcast by PBS

Finalists - Sony Professional Impact Award 2010

Sebastian Rich, for Afghanistan, for NBC News

Nick Read (pictured top), won the award for The Slumdog Children of Mumbai, India - True Vision Productions for Channel 4 - Dispatches

Liviu Tipurita (pictured above), for Gypsy Child Thieves - Shot in Spain, Italy and Romania, for BBC Two - This World

Flying cameras Via Rail

Mo-Sys Via Rail II is a customised, horizontal camera rail system that can also, now offer vertical movement too, with a new scissor lift. "That gives us a new dimension, while keeping the floor clear," said its CEO, Michael Geissler.

"More and more newsrooms are wanting to have that dramatic opening shot flying over all the desks," and the Via Rail II system is fully computerised, allowing cameras to travel at up to 1.5m per second – faster on request. It has completed a vertical system, in Lebanon, that rises through four studios (above each other) at up to 4m per second.

Most of its clients order it in lengths of 20-50m, which can be almost any shape they like, and it has recently won five orders in Europe and the Near East.

By David Fox

Zeiss extends Compact Prime range

Zeiss CP.2 100mm/2.1 CF CloseUp from Stefan Czech on Vimeo.

Carl Zeiss has expanded its Compact Prime CP.2 lens series with two new focal lengths: 50mm with macro; and 100mm with close focus function. These lenses have been developed for filming with HD DSLR cameras and extend the range to nine lenses of 18-100mm.

The 1.49kg CP.2 100 mm/T2.1 CF can focus as close as 70cm. The 1.35kg CP.2 50mm/T2.1 Makro allows close-up shots to be taken at a distance of just 24cm. All the Compact Prime CP.2 lenses come with interchangeable PL-, EF- and F-mounts. They will cost from €3,700.

Zeiss also plans to offer the Compact Prime range with Micro 4/3 and A-mounts. “The possibility of using our CP.2 lenses flexibly for three different camera systems is not only interesting for new customers. Stores that rent cameras and camera equipment also benefit from the lenses’ enhanced flexibility," said Michael Schiehlen, Head of Sales of Carl Zeiss AG Camera Lens Division.

In its collaboration with Arri, there is now a new Arri/Zeiss 12mm/T1.3 Master Prime – the range now goes from 12-150mm over 16 models.

By David Fox

Bluetooth control for Canon lenses

Canon has developed a new wireless lens control system using Bluetooth that is "ideal for use on cranes or jib arms, or in confined spaces," according to Jan Maarten Kloosterman, sales & marketing, Canon Europe (pictured).

The WB10R/T works with Canon's digital ENG video lenses and has a delay of less than 40 milliseconds.

It can operate up to about 10m, and uses very little power. The controller takes two AA batteries, which should last more than 80 hours of continual operation, or a DC power cable. The receiver can be connected to the viewfinder or strapped to the body of the camera.

It will be available in December, although only in a limited number of countries initially.

By David Fox