Gear & Now: New Releases from Major Manufacturers Support Event Video
Posted May 3, 2009

Lee RickwoodAlthough it may not be "officially" recognized as an industry classification, event videography is gaining support and recognition from major manufacturers who are releasing products specifically aimed at this market. Partly as a way to support (pardon the pun) today's multipurpose HD and DV cameras, for example, companies are incorporating a new appreciation of event videography shooting styles and situational requirements, in particular the "grab-and-go" approach that following a live event necessitates, as well as the realization that many pro video people use many different products for different jobs-from pure-play consumer to top-of-the-line professional.

Tripods Add Functional Flexibility
Tripod manufacturer Vinten has added the Pro-5Plus ($799.95, below) to its product lineup, it says, specifically to address those needs. The single-stage Pozi-Loc aluminum tripod and lightweight floor spreader (packed in its own Petrol traveling case) is easy to transport to and from various shoot locations. It has counterbalancing for smaller camcorders that weigh up to about 10 lbs. (4.5 kg), again anticipating the flexibility and mobility that many event shooters require.
Vinten Pro-5Plus

Likewise, a quick-release sideload system means easy camera mounting and quick release from the head (75mm spherical base). The Pro-5Plus pan-and-tilt head uses a switchable counterbalance spring for controllable tilt movements, continuously variable pan-and-tilt drag, as well as separate pan-and-tilt locks.

Meanwhile, Sachtler has introduced its new FSB 8 75mm fluid head, designed for larger payloads (20 lbs. maximum). But it's able to handle very lightweight camcorders as well, a multidevice shooting reality many videographers face. Using the company's own Speed Balance (SB) system, the tripod head itself can be easily adjusted to much lighter camcorders, those weighing as little as 2 lbs., including popular DVCAM and HDV and DV models. It has a 10-step counterbalance as well as five grades of both H and V drag and the always-handy, self-illuminating Touch Bubble.
Sachtler FSB 8

All the FSB range products can be matched with Sachtler's multifunctional tripod system SOOM, for extended reach and camera angles from 8" to 8' in height (20cm-250cm).

The FSB CELL power supply, another company accessory, connects directly between a camera and the tripod, bringing 7.2V battery power with a storage capacity of 10.5Ah directly to the shoot location. The two-stage FSB 8 system with carrying bag sells for about $2,000.

More Control Over On-Camera LEDs
Sachtler is also accommodating the sometimes delicate shooting needs of videographers in low-light situations-such as weddings and recitals-with a new version of its popular on-camera LED lighting fixture. Known as the Reporter (I might suggest another name here) 8LEDim, it is a fully dimmable, battery-operated fixture, continuously adjustable from 100% to 30% output.

It takes an input voltage range of 6V-24V, so it can be powered from the same source as the camera (including the aforementioned Sachtler FSB CELL). It's rated at just 8W of power consumption, but with 250 lumens of light. The light features a removable, 45-degree rotating, four-leaf barn door and a softening reflector. The light is available as a daylight or tungsten version. Daylight and tungsten LED modules can be interchanged in the fixture to provide either 3200°K or 5600°K illumination.

The Reporter 8LEDim has a wide range of accessories, including a minicroc clamp, an extension arm, and other "run-and-gun" system accessories. About $300 should do the trick. From lighting company PrompterPeople, makers of FloLight, comes word of the introduction of the MicroBeam 128, another dimmable device using low-power-draw LED lights. It's a little weighty (the anodized aluminum unit weighs a little less than 2 lbs.) for handheld shooting perhaps. It is camera-mountable, and it will run off existing camera Li-ion batteries (with mounts for Sony, Panasonic, Canon, or JVC). External DC operation is also supported in fixed-location environments.

The MicroBeam uses 5600K LEDs, but, conveniently, a conversion pack is available for 3200K shoots, and a slide-in filter holder is included. And it can be fully dimmed using the knob on the back of the device. The unit can be ordered online for $329.

New Product News Is All Relative
As Albert Einstein once said, "It's all about space and time!" He wasn't talking about Gear & Now, of course, but his theories do apply pretty much everywhere!

Last time, G&N covered some new in-studio lighting options for pro videographers. But just after finishing the piece, companies such as Ikan Corp., Zylight, and Color Kinetics, announced new product releases as well.

Whether you use in-studio or on-camera lighting and regardless of whether your preference is cool 56K or warm 32K, this bit of later-breaking news should put a bee in the bonnet of lighting-conscious videographers.

It's about ColorBug, a new digital-light sensor device from SeaChanger. It connects to an Apple iPhone and lets you measure and test color temperature and lighting output in your shooting environment, be it indoors or out. You can accurately determine CIE (Commission Internationale de l'Eclairage) colors and luminance values (brightness output is measured in LUX or FC foot-candles) with the device, and you can share that information wirelessly with your iPhone for subsequent call-up and color matching.

The CIE 1931 spec characterizes colors by a luminance parameter "Y" and two color coordinates "X and Y" in order to quantify color. CIE is not the same as CMYK (for print) or RGB (familiar to those of us in color monitor setup). But it is regarded as very accurate, and it does enable useful measurement comparisons and creative control over more complicated lighting setups.

The pocket-sized device operates on internal rechargeable Li-ion batteries (connect via mini-USB) and uses the 802.11 wireless protocol. Now, here's another little device you could carry around. I recently saw one videographer with four mobile devices strapped to his belt; I'm not sure what special call he was waiting for, but it looked like he was eager to be distracted from the task at hand!

Maybe the new Ditty Bag would help. It's a lightweight carry-all bag for all those odds and ends, and it's priced at about $150. It has a removable interior divider to separate contents and lots of loops and pockets of different sizes to hold a wide variety of oddly shaped items. There's a removable tool pouch that can be hung on a belt and an auxiliary hooked strap so the Ditty Bag itself can be hung from a ladder, a stand, or whatever else is at hand.

The bag's cold-molded laminate bottom lifts and protects contents from damage from adverse elements such as dirt or water. Additional features include a padded neoprene shoulder strap and a removable ergonomic handle, a sturdy black nylon rain cover, and an external pocket for your personal belongings.

You've probably heard the old saying, "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." For working videographers who do not want to get attached to just one type of assignment, having different tools for different jobs makes a lot of sense. (I actually haven't had my own video camera in several years; when a client opportunity comes up, I will rent the best camera that is available and that is the most appropriate for the shoot and the budget.)

If you work with consumer-type handicams, such as the Canon HV20/HV30 and Panasonic AG-HSC1U models, you will want to know about new wide-angle lens attachments and adapters. And I would not be that surprised if news about accessories for the new Sony PMW-EX1 camera were of interest to you as well.

To expand the sometimes narrow wide-angle capabilities of consumer-type camcorders, Schneider Optics is introducing a new line of Century Pro Series HD lens accessories for 43mm front lens thread models like those mentioned (Schneider includes a 37mm-43mm step-up ring). Of course, the company has a wide range of specific lenses for specific cameras.

The new .5X HD Wide Angle Adapter is a lightweight and inexpensive way to get increased coverage and more-immersive camera compositions. For zoom-through wide angles, there's the 65X Wide Angle HD Converter. And for the superwide, almost exaggerated angles of extreme shooters everywhere, there's the .3X HD Ultra Fisheye Adapter. It's not a "zoom through" either, but it's terrific for exaggerating depth by pulling close objects in to the image while causing distant objects to recede into the background. Try that with a fixed-lens consumer camera!

Knowing, of course, that fixed lenses, no matter how well-accessorized, just won't do in all cases, larger, usually shouldermount, interchangeable lens HD camcorders are a popular step up from handheld consumer cameras-and of course, they have their own line of accessories.

Just introduced by Anton/Bauer, for example, is its new QR-EX3 Gold Mount for the Sony PMW-EX3. The QR-EX3 on-camera Gold Mount allows Sony's PMW-EX3 model to work with Anton/Bauer's Dionic 90 or Hytron 50 batteries, extending the camera's run times (the Dionic 90 provides up to 6.5 hours of run time while the Hytron 50 battery gives about 3.5 hours) while contributing to balance. In addition, the QR-EX3 comes with a PowerTap connector, so an on-camera light, a wireless receiver, and another 12V accessory can also be powered.
Anton/Bauer EX3 Gold Mount

Do you think they've seen us doing event video?

Lee Rickwood (lrickwood at goodmedia.com) is a media consultant and freelance writer.