How do I troubleshoot an external drive?

If your external drive is being a bit temperamental, there are a few things you can try before taking a hammer to it in frustration or sending it in for repair. Give these a go and see if they help:

1. Plug it in. Low power can impact performance, so where possible you should plug your drive in to the mains rather than relying on bus power.

2. Switch ports and cables. We know it’s an obvious one, but if there are multiple ports you can connect your drive to, try them all to make sure it is the drive that’s the problem and not the port itself. If your drive’s connecting to a USB hub or similar device, try connecting it directly to your computer instead. If you’re working on a desktop computer, use a port on the back of your computer rather than on the keyboard. If you have any additional FireWire, USB or Thunderbolt cables, try using those, too.

3. Relaunch Finder. Sometimes a drive can be available and working fine, but Finder fails to display it properly. To turn Finder off an on again, hold down the alt key, right click on the Finder icon in your dock and click Relaunch in the popup menu.

4. Check your formatting. It may be that your drive is formatted using a file system your Mac doesn’t understand. You can check this by opening Disk Utility (click Go in the top menu, click Utilities and select Disk Utility) and checking the Format field in the bottom left of your screen. It should read Mac OS Extended (Journaled) or MS-DOS (FAT32). If it’s not in a supported format, you’ll need to reformat the drive before your Mac can access it, but this will wipe any information on the drive, so make sure it’s backed up first.

5. While you’re in Disk Utility… If your Mac can definitely see the drive but you can’t access content on it, open Disk Utility and click on Verify Disk. Your Mac will scan the disk to see if it can pick up any errors. If it does find errors, click on the Repair Disk button to troubleshoot them. (You can see our video on the wonders of Disk Utility here.

6. Boot in Safe Mode. It may be that third party plug-ins or something else installed on your computer is causing problems with the drive. You can check for this by booting in Safe Mode (power off your Mac and reboot it while holding the Alt key down until the grey Apple symbol appears). This mode only enables the core functions of your Mac, so if your drive is recognised in Safe Mode the problem probably lies with a third-party program installed on your computer.

How do I back up my Mac to Time Machine?

Whatever’s wrong with your computer, you’re going to feel far better about it (and probably come out the other side with far less work to reproduce) if you’ve backed up your files beforehand. Mac OS X makes this process less of a hassle by including Time Machine, so you can simply assign a backup drive (or partition) and back up as often as on the hour every hour, automatically. Here’s what you do:

1. Get your hands on a large, reliable external drive (there are some here. If your Mac has a second internal drive you can use this for backup instead – any drive other than the one you want to back up will do.)

2. Make sure it’s empty, as Time Machine will ask you to erase any files already on there before using the drive for backup.

3. Wait until dark – the first backup takes a while, especially if there’s a lot on your Mac, so it’s best done overnight.

4. Connect the drive to your Mac. If it’s the first time you’ve connected the drive to your computer, you’ll see a pop up asking you if you want Time Machine to use it as a backup drive. Click ‘Use as Backup Disk’.

5. If you’ve connected the drive before, click the Time Machine icon in your dock.

6. Set the slider in the Time Machine Window to ‘on’ and click ‘Select Backup Disk’

7. Select your drive from the drop down list and click ‘Use for Backup’.

8. The Time Machine Preferences window will open. Lion OS X users can click ‘Encrypt Backup Disk’ to encrypt the drive using FileVault2.

9. Click ‘Back up Now’.

10. Kick back and watch the progress bar. Your first backup will take a while as all the information you’re backing up has to be copied. Subsequent backups will only record changes since the previous backup, and so will be much faster. Time Machine stores hourly backups for the last day, daily backups for the last month and weekly backups for as long as it has space on your drive.

How do I reset an administrator password in OS X?

Keychain Access is the application OS X uses to store all your passwords, both for your Mac itself and any third party applications or sites that you ask it to remember your details for. However, if you’ve forgotten your administrator password, it can be reset.

If you’re running OS X 10.7 Lion or later:

1.   You won’t be able to see the passwords saved in your keychain after your admin password has been reset, so if you can remember any, make a note of them now!

2.   Restart your Mac while holding down Command and R, so you boot to the Recovery partition.

3.   In the window that comes up, open Terminal Utility and type resetpassword (all one word, no quotation marks).

4.   Reset Password Utility will open. Select your hard drive from the list that appears.

5.   Select your account. Input your new admin password. Click save. You now have a new admin password and have created a new login keychain. Restart your computer again. You’re done!

If you’re running OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or earlier:

1.   You won’t be able to see the passwords saved in your keychain after your admin password has been reset, so if you can remember any, make a note of them now!

2.   Stick your OS X installation disc into your computer and start it up while holding down the C key.

3.   Select your language preferences when prompted.

4.   Once you get to your desktop, select Go in the top menu, then Utilities, then Password Reset.

5.   Select the drive and user that you need to create a new password for, then enter a new password when prompted.

6.   Reboot your computer and log in using your new password.

TheNewF revealed: Sony’s F55, F5 and accessories

TheNewF revealed: Sony’s F55, F5 and accessories

After months of carefully orchestrated suspense, Sony have finally revealed #TheNewF. The announcement sees two new cameras join the line-up: the PMW-F55 and PMW-F5. These cameras bridge the gap between the PMW-F3 and the F65, while Sony are also bringing several new feature updates to the existing range to extend the capabilities of the F65 and FS700.

The key driver behind the new releases and announcements is 4K. Sony have been talking about working beyond HD, but the reality so far has been that their 4K offerings have been well beyond the reach of many, or simply “4K capable” without any real functionality. While it’s exciting to talk about and look at the new toys, it’s also important to understand some of the technical innovations that have seen Sony draw on their established codec and sensor heritage to deliver what looks to be their strongest camera lineup for many years.

The innovations for the new cameras are from the ground up in terms of form, function and codec. The PMW-F55 and PMW-F5 cameras have the same modular design and the same sensor specs, but there are key differences in what the cameras offer in their feature set.

The design


Sony F series camcorders modular design

Sony have clearly looked at the market and listened to people about what they want (and, in all honesty, what other cameras are offering). The new F-series cameras offer a fantastic modular design with the functionality and scalability of the camera built-in –  not just in the physical camera body itself, but also the recording media and codec.

Both cameras use the same chassis, and both have an F-series lens mount that’ll let you use the Prime and zoom lenses that came to market with the PMW-F3. As with the F3, the camera will come with a FZ to PL mount adaptor designed to work with Arri or Cooke Primes. From a distance, without seeing the model number or accessing the features, the only way to tell these cameras apart is from the lens mount collar – the F55 has a siiver collar and the F5 has a black collar.

Key differences: The F55 and the F5

For the PMW-F55 and PMW-F5, Sony have developed a new Super 35mm 4K sensor with a resolution of 4096×2160. While both cameras have this sensor, there are a few key differences in how they utilise it.


Sony PMW-F55


The F55 sits under the F65 in Sony’s lineup, and sports the highly regarded CineAlta badge. It borrows a lot of technological innovations from Sony’s flagship Cinema camera, it has a Super 35 4K CMOS sensor and, most importantly, a new global shutter technology that means vastly decreased artifacting and addresses the CMOS rolling shutter issue. It’s also got the same wide colour gamut as the F65.

The Key difference is that the PMW-F55 offers internal 4K recording to SxS Pro + cards at up to 60fps and 2K/HD at up 180fps in Sony’s new XAVC 422 10-bit 80Mbps codec. The camera also offers a 4K output via 4 x 3G-SDI at 60fps, or HDMI 1.4a at 30fps.

The F55 also has the ability to simultaneously record XAVC 4K files and HD MPEG files to the same SxS Pro + card. As well as enabling you to have an instant back-up copy, it means you can use the MPEG version of your footage as a hi-res proxy for on-set work, then send the XAVC version off to post facilities to be cut and finished – all without an external recorder.


Sony PMW-F5

As mentioned, the design of the cameras is identical, but the F5 in its base form is mostly limited to HD and (although there is a token offering of 2K with the new XAVC codec). This isn’t a negative point on the camera at all, as for the first time you’ll be able to deliver a number of Sony’s established HD formats from one camera. This includes broadcast friendly 50Mps XDCAM 422, HDCam SR 422 / 444 (at up to 30fps) and also high frame rates of up to 120fps in HD/2K using the XAVC 422 codec.


As part of the modular design of the new camera body, Sony have also announced a dockable 4K RAW recorder, the AXS-R5. Seamlessly fitting onto the back of the camera thanks to a proprietary locking mechanism, the unit uses a new card media called AXS, which is designed to be a low cost way to record RAW.

ASX-R5 and memory

The new F-series cameras record the same RAW output as the Sony F65, which has a data rate of 1.2Gbps or roughly 5Mb a frame, and the new AXS has been announced at a capacity of 512GB, which roughly translates to one hour of footage at 30fps. To accompany the card, Sony have also announced a standalone USB 3.0 card reader, the AXS-CR1, allowing card contents to quickly be copied / backed up and sent back to the camera for further recording.

Both the PMW-F55 and PMW-F5 can output 4k RAW to the R5 at high frame rates, but only the F55 can output 2K RAW at up to 240fps – the F5 can only achieve 120fps at 2K RAW.


In keeping with their new, modular philosophy, Sony are offering a choice of three viewfinders. One of the most exciting announcements in this round of releases is the DVF-EL100, first professional OLED viewfinder. A  0.7″, 1280×720 unit, this should be a key part of any f55 kit. (There is also a more cost-effective 3.5″ flip up LCD viewfinder, the DVF-L350, that delivers a 960×640 image). For a more studio style setup, Sony have announced the DVF-L700, which is a 7″ 1920×1080 LCD colour monitor that mounts directly on to the camera body. These new viewfinders work with the F5, F55 and F65.


Sony BP-FL75 battery

The final element of the modular design is a new version of Sony’s BP batteries. Not only  do they perfectly compliment the form factor of the camera, they also provide a higher capacity and charge faster than existing sony BPGL V-Lock batteries, but the new cameras’ V-Lock mounts mean they will accept older batteries (though they won’t look as nice!).

The NEX-FS700 and the F65

Sony’s “4K ready” FS700 is about to become 4K capable, thanks to support for Sony’s new 4K recorder, the AXS-R5. We’re yet to see it physically mounted on the camera, but it will use a new V-mount plate that attaches to the R5 to allow it to receive power and inputs from the FS700. The F65 itself is getting a firmware upgrade that’ll allow you to take advantage of its massive sensor to capture and de-mosaic 6K and 8K footage. Now a real killer feature of this is that footage which has already been shot in 4K RAW can be unlocked to the full 8K resolution, which is great news for anyone with an who’s already an F65 user.

4K monitoring

Sony have also announced a 4K monitor, the 30″ PVM-X300. Although it’s not the OLED we’d all hoped for, it’s going to provide a cost-effective way to view 4K material at 4096×2160 resolution. The IPS LCD will provide a wide viewing angle, while incorporating Sony’s Trimaster technology architecture to achieve fantastic colour and pick quality. An idle companion to the new F-series cameras, it will support 4K at 24p and 3840×2160 at 24, 25 and 30p. It will have 4 x 3G-SDI and a HDMI 1.4a that is designed to work natively with the f55, allowing you to connect the camera via a single HDMI cable to view 4K – perfect for onset work.

Sony are also making a direct SxS 4K player available that will allow you to play back XAVC 4K material directly from the SXS Pro + card, and control it from the monitor’s control panel. Full details of this are still to be announced, but it’s an option that will be available after launch of the monitor in spring 2013.

So what does this mean for your 4K workflow?

Well, you’re about to get far more options. That R5 4K recorder means that you’ll no longer have to shell out for a top of the line camera to get access to full 4K imagery, and the ability to record native 4K footage from a PMW-F5 or PMW-F55 to optimised media alongside an MPEG proxy will be helpful for on-set teams who don’t have the time or the bandwidth to work with 4K and need instant proxies, or anyone who’s going to be shooting 50Mbps for TV one day and working on high-end film production the next.

Sony’s SxS Pro + and AXS cards are going to be able to handle the high bitrates you need for an effective 4K workflow (4k at 60fps 4:2:2 is around 600Mbps), and the new monitor provides a simple way to monitor at full resolution – the information we have so far suggests its basically a plug-and-play accessory.

Want to know more about the PMW-F55 and PMW-F5? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page.

Which new Mac is right for you?

Which new Mac is right for you?

Between iPad mini, iPad with Retina display, the ultra-thin new iMac, the souped up Mac mini and the new 13” Retina MacBook Pro, choosing which of the latest Macs to splash your well-earned cash on isn’t easy. We’ve tried to ease the strain by rounding up the key features of the new releases in one handy post. Here goes…

13” Retina MacBook Pro: any sharper and it’d have your eye out


13" Retina Macbook Pro

For many people, this is the notebook they’ve been waiting for. Just as powerful and slim as their 15″ siblings, these MacBook Pros are lighter and much more portable, so perfect for anyone needing to work in super-sharp detail while on the move (of course, they’re also ideal for watching your Die Hard box set on long train journeys too). Apple have also swapped out the hard drive for super-speedy Flash memory, giving you a faster start time and more responsive apps.

The key specs include:

– 2560×1600 Retina display

– Intel HD Graphics 4000 graphics processor

– Starts at 128GB Flash memory

Get the new 13″ MacBook Pro with Retina display


Mac mini: Fast. Powerful. Sandwich-sized.

mac mini

Apple have kept the changes to the Mac mini fairly minor, adding USB 3.0 connectivity and Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge technology but leaving the rest mostly intact, with only the graphics processor changing (it’s now an Intel HD Graphics 4000). Anyone who orders a custom model can now double up on RAM thanks to the new 8GB chip, which allows you to squeeze 16GB of RAM into your Mac mini’s tiny form factor, complemented by up to 1TB of hard drive space or 256GB of Flash storage. Oh, and they’ve knocked £30 off the price too. You can’t argue with that.

The key specs include:

– Up to 16GB RAM

– Dual or Quad-Core Intel i5 or i7 processor

– Intel HD Graphics 4000 graphics processor

– Up to 1TB HDD or 256GB Flash storage

Get the new Mac mini


 Lightning strikes twice: iPad mini and iPad with Retina display


iPad mini

Filling that niche between the iPhone 5 and the regular iPad, Apple’s svelte 7.85″ iPad mini comes with a 1024×768 screen and Dual-Core Intel A5 chip. It’s got more screen space and power than Apple’s phone, but simultaneously more portability than its bigger brother. Apple have obviously worked hard to make this a one-hand tablet, and have delivered a 7.2mm, 0.68lb device that somehow manages to cram in a FaceTime HD camera, a 5MP iSight camera, LTE cellular, faster WiFi, and a Lightning port. The new size also makes it a more viable option for taking photo and video than the regular-sized iPad, which always felt a bit wrong when taking snaps. As usual, there’s a range of different storage capacities depending on how many documents, apps, songs and videos you want to carry round, and a choice of black or white too.

Key specs include:

– Intel Dual-Core A5 chip

– 1024×768 display

– Lightning connectivity

– 10 hour battery life

Get the iPad mini.


Apple have also revealed a new 9.7” iPad, the 4th Generation iPad. Sporting the latest Intel A6X chip, it’s said to have twice as fast CPU and graphics performance as any previous iPad, as well as faster WiFi, LTE support, Lightning connectivity and a 720p FaceTime HD camera.

Key specs include:

– Intel A6X chip

– 2x faster CPU and graphics performance

– Lightning connectivity

– 10 hour battery life

Get the iPad with Retina display.


 The new iMac: Faster. Thinner. Still super.


new iMac

Apple aren’t all about mini computers and mobile devices – there’s still plenty for us desktop types to shout about. The 8th generation iMac comes equipped with Intel’s new Ivy Bridge processors, USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt connectivity, the new iMac Quad-Core i5 or i7 processors as you prefer, and up to 32GB RAM thanks to Apple’s new 8GB RAM chips – great for anyone who’s doing design or video work using demanding apps like Creative Suite.

However, the big news is that it’s ditched the SuperDrive in exchange for Apple’s new Fusion technology. This combines the speed of SSD with the capacity of HDD, so you get the near-instant startup times of an SSD drive but can rely on the size and power of a spinning disc drive when need be. Then there’s the fact that its thinnest edge is 80% thinner than that of the previous iMac – at 5mm thick, it’s nearly as slim as a MacBook Air.

The key specs include:

–  USB 3.0 connectivity

– Intel’s new Ivy Bridge processors

– Fusion technology

Get the new iMac now.


Want to know more about the latest Apple releases? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page


Red Giant release “blazingly fast” PluralEyes 3

Red Giant release “blazingly fast” PluralEyes 3

Leading us into the weekend on a high, Red Giant have announced their “blazingly fast” new release, PluralEyes 3 for Mac OS X. Available for £115 ex VAT for new users or as a paid upgrade for PluralEyes 2 or DualEyes users.

The new features

Red Giant have gleefully announced that PluralEyes 3 is possibly the fastest audio/video syncing automation solution of all time, apparently clocking in at speeds 20 times faster than PluralEyes 2. They’ve also added support for new cameras and codecs, including many new DSLRs, and Media Composer compatibility is set to arrive as a free upgrade to PluralEyes 3 soon.

Red Giant have also been hard at work on a new timeline-based interface, which gives you realtime feedback on all your syncs, and a ‘test and tweak’ feature that’s designed to give to you more confidence in your sync, inluding Two Up View and Snap to Sync controls.

Responses so far…

You can get the inside scoop on the update over at RedGiantTV, where Seth Worley has made a short film, Form 17, and accompanying making-of. Director, DP and all-round video guru Philip Bloom has been testing PluralEyes 3 too, and has given it a cracking reference.

“PluralEyes 3 is a massive improvement over the previous versions. A terrific new UI makes syncing sound to video not only a simple task, but it’s also fascinating to watch it at work as it shuffles things around visually.”

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For more information, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page.

Working with the BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera 1: The camera

Working with the BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera 1: The camera

While we’ve not been shy about getting grabby with the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera – we got the chance to try it out at Blackmagic’s reseller briefing and held our own hands-on event in MediaCityUK in September – but we thought you’d appreciate a shooter’s eye view. Enter test pilots Den Lennie of F-Stop Academy and Hangman Studios’ James Tonkin, DPs, camera operators of the highest order, private BMCC beta members and test footage shooters extraordinaire. Who better, we thought, to talk us through how this camera fits in to the current landscape, and who its workflow might suit?

Shooting setups

That ‘Cinema Camera’ tag might immediately make us think that the camera has a specific purpose – and our initial trial of the camera certainly backs this up. But we were interested in finding out what kind of setup users have been slotting this camera into.

Shooting on the Blackmagic Cinema Camera

Shooting a documentary on theBlackmagic Cinema Camera


James: I film a lot of music-based content, and rely on cameras which are small and portable, have stunning image quality and also a quick and versatile post workflow. The current cameras I use are the Sony FS700 and FS100, and I’ve found that the Cinema Camera sits nicely alongside these cameras. I will choose to shoot either straight to ProRes or RAW with the Cinema Camera, all depending on the job in hand, the speed going into edit and the flexibility required in post.

Den: I have a FS100, I have a Canon 5D MkII that I haven’t shot video on for probably a year, and I have a little Sony NX30 for doing tutorials and stuff when we go to trade shows. I think what’s key today is that you can’t own one camera. You need to have different cameras for different applications – the FS100 might be a perfect corporate video camera, the hyper Gamma on the FS700 camera gives you an image that’s comparable to the F3, so it’s very, very high quality. And then the Cinema Camera fits right in on top of that.

James: I equate the Cinema Camera workflow far closer to that of a RED camera, or its coined nickname of a ‘baby Alexa’, and this is simply down to the choice of making it a RAW recording camera. While it hasn’t got the resolution of RED’s cameras, it does benefit enormously by allowing users to also shoot to ProRes and DNxHD as well as RAW. Unlike the Alexa, the Cinema Camera is tiny in size and price and these two factors will mean that it will have a far greater user base.

Den: A couple of months ago James and I did a commercial with Ronaldo and we shot that on RED Scarlets. During that shoot, both of us fell in love the simplicity of that camera. You turn it on, you set your ISO, you set your shutter, you set your colour balance and you shoot. And we were both really seriously looking at buying a Scarlet each – that’s £20,000 worth of investment. Then this camera came out and, for me, it does everything that I would want a Scarlet to do, barring the 4k.

Moving on from DSLRs

A few years back, the ‘DSLR revolution’ gave enthusiasts and low budget filmmakers access to large sensor cameras that enabled them to shoot professional-looking projects on a low budget, and challenged the supremacy of high-end camera manufacturers. Given the Cinema Camera’s low price point and the fact that Blackmagic Design have traditionally focused on post-production, we wondered how James and Den thought the Cinema Camera would gel with the DSLR market.

James: Video capable DSLRs have certainly paved the way for the BMCC. [The Cinema Camera is] set to move the industry on from relying on the compressed H.264 formats that many have gotten used to with DSLR video. 
Den: I actually think DSLRs are going to die off very quickly in the pro world, because now all the manufacturers have caught up with large sensor cameras and you no longer have to deal with all the hassles of working with DSLR. The FS100, FS700 produce amazing results with a compressed format at 8-bit, so why would you use a DSLR anymore? It’s not necessary. Where I think the Cinema Camera is going to come in is very much for those pro DSLR users, the ones who want greater bit depth, who want to put [their footage] through multi-layered effects, want to colour grade and do post-production, and because with a 12-bit RAW option or a 10-bit ProRes, you’ve just got a lot more data to play with. And the form factor’s very similar to DSLR, so you can put it in all the environments that you’d put a DSLR in but have this greater picture quality.

James: I love the form factor and size of the Cinema Camera, as I can use it as a small handheld config with just a lens, so that it looks more like a stills camera and allows me to shoot more footage in a documentary style, without everyone assuming that I’m shooting video.

Den: I think where it’s not going to do so well or where it might get some stick, is with the real aspiring filmmakers or the hobbyists who bought a DSLR and a slider and created lots of montage. And that’s great, it’s almost like punk, there’s this wave of filmmakers calling themselves DSLR DPs, but that type of user never tends to go very far with it, they just cut it in whatever program they’re using and then throw Magic Bullet on top of it. I think they will struggle potentially with the extra workflow that’s required if you want to shoot RAW and really use that extra 12-bit.

The Micro 4/3″ Cinema Camera

At IBC, Blackmagic Design announced that they were also going to be releasing a Micro 4/3″ version of the Cinema Camera. Given that the M3/4″ fans in our office are fast becoming Cinema Camera fanboys, we wondered what the beta team thought of that model…

James: I think this is simply a very smart move by Blackmagic Design, as it opens up the choice of glass for the camera and makes it even more appealing to micro 4/3 users of cameras like the GH2 and AF100.

Den: We’ve been testing the image stabilisation on the Canon mount and I think  for someone like James it makes perfect sense [to use the stabilised Canon lenses], because he does so much running around with bands and the like. I tend to do a bit more set piece stuff, so it matters less for me. But I think what the M3/4″ version does is open it up to third party lens manufacturers. You can put any piece of glass on that camera, and I know people who are shooting dramas on the Alexa and using this as a B camera, so you want to be able to match the glass.

Are Blackmagic Design ready to become a camera company?

There’s been a lot of discussion online – some of it informed, some of it comprised mostly of caps lock – about Blackmagic Design’s post background, and whether or not they’re capable of delivering a production-focused tool successfully. Apparently it’s all about listening to the end user…
James: I’m so confident in BMD as a company I know they are listening to their customers and I’m certain this is only the first of many cameras we’ll see them produce.

Den: I think BMD are a very flexible company. They think big, but they don’t have any of the constraints of a corporation. While a lot of the key management have come from corporations, they’re very anti-corporation in the way they approach things, they decide they want to do something and they do it. Beta testers have been sending back piles and piles of information on improvements and things we’d like to see, and they’ve been really responsive. So we feel very privileged to be in that position.

Also, all the beta testers are unique in their own fields, so you’ve got this group of people who are guiding the manufacturer in what needs to happen to the camera, and [BMD are] going “Yeah, okay let’s do it,” and then you get a new software upgrade. I think their only challenge now is the speed at which they’re trying to pull things off. But it’s very, very exciting, and getting to know the company a bit better I’m really excited by the energy and enthusiasm that the guys there have for these tools.

Jigsaw24: They’ve gone for High Dynamic Range as their killer feature over the more fashionable shallow DOF, though…

Den: [With High Dynamic Range] you’re just able to capture more information, with information you have more choice, with more choice you can embrace whatever creative slant you decide to take in post. And I think when you work with this camera – and I have to emphasise that you have to work with this camera in conjunction with grading software – it is about capturing a decent image on location and then bringing it into the grade enhancing that. So I think it’s a more difficult camera to use, because you have to make sure you’re doing that and getting it right, but it’s a more powerful one.

James: I love a shallow DOF look for certain aspects of cinematic storytelling, however it is only one aspect and not the only visual tool filmmakers should use. Dynamic range is perhaps a far more important characteristic of film, as without this or with a limited amount of DR, then all footage just looks very video-y. I am and have always been obsessed with making digital formats look like film, as this was the format I was fortunate to first work with, albeit 16mm. Filmmaking is fundamentally an interplay of light and dark and the stories that are told within this medium, and so the dynamic range of a camera’s sensor and how it is affected by lighting is enormously important, and crucial to creating a filmic look.

Den: Actually, what’s especially good for me about the Cinema Camera is the highlight roll off. Film negative always rolled off the highlights in a very beautiful way. And this camera, I don’t know how they’ve done it, but they just seem to have a lot of extra latitude at that end of the image so it never felt like it was too electronic. And so as a result even just out of the camera, even in ProRes, [your footage] is just very filmic.

Choosing your format

James: My biggest praise for the workflow with the BMCC is that you have choices: first, film in ProRes/DNxHD video mode for an instant great image as you’re seeing it, straight off the back of the camera. Then film in ProRes/DNxHD film mode for a log image which still has an instant workflow to edit, but allows more control in the grade, and finally film in RAW DNG mode for the very best 12-bit uncompressed image quality with the most amount of flexibility of image in the grade, and also an increased 2.5K image resolution.

I have shot lots of footage in RAW and a fair amount in ProRes. There’s no doubt that the ProRes workflow is the easiest way into the edit and has been ideal for a few fast turnaround jobs we’ve done, but I really get exciting about shooting RAW now that I’ve seen the image quality and control I have of that image within Resolve. I’m fortunate to often be grading my own material, so I’m always thinking with the grade in mind when I’m filming and really pay very close attention to exposure and getting the best image from the RAW files. The first few tests I shot were overexposed in many shots, but being able to pull the exposure back and see cloud detail and highlights become recoverable was a real eye opener compared to the limited latitude from DSLR recording formats.

Den: When you bring your files in you do have to render them out if you’re working in RAW, so there is some extra time involved and I think it would depend on the project whether you went down the RAW route. But as an image-maker, I absolutely would always try and shoot RAW because I just like having that extra latitude; it’s like, I’ve got all this power and I want to use it. But as I say, it’s easy to nip down to ProRes and you’re not losing a huge amount, so I think there’s a great compromise in that.

To find out what Den and James think about the Cinema Camera workflow and its partnership with Resolve, head over to part two, or take a look at Den’s Cinema Camera shoot here.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page.

About the authors

James Tonkin is a filmmaker and director of Hangman Studios, a London-based creative studio that works across commercials, documentaries, music videos and live filming for broadcast, cinema and online. The company specialises in music based projects and clients include Robbie Williams, Coldplay, Duran Duran, Björk, Konami, T-Mobile, Sony and Apple. To get in touch, visit or follow @hangmanstudios on Twitter

In a 17 year career crammed with producer, director, director of photography and lighting cameraman credits on award-winning documentaries, travel programmes and music videos (starring celebrities such as Tom Cruise and Ewan McGregor to U2, Bon Jovi, Kylie Minogue, Robbie Williams and Christina Aguilera), Den Lennie has certainly done his time behind the lens. Now he dedicates 90% of his time to sharing his expertise with the next generation of filmmakers, having started up his own training organisation, F-Stop Academy.  Visit or follow @DenLennie on Twitter.

Working with the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera 2: The workflow

Working with the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera 2: The workflow

Cinema Camera test pilots Den Lennie of F-Stop Academy and Hangman Studios’ James Tonkin agreed to share their thoughts on Blackmagic Design’s camera. In this part, they tackle the Resolve workflow, editing setups and power distribution…

Den Lenie on location

Working with Resolve

James: As mentioned, because I regularly grade mine and other people’s footage, I always think in terms of the grade when I’m filming. I love Resolve and the power it brings to the grade, and without doubt it’s an essential part of the workflow with the Cinema Camera. The reason why Resolve and the Cinema Camera are companion products is because a RAW DNG workflow requires the source media to be processed into a editorial format, such as ProRes, so that it can be edited within any of the common NLEs. Hence as soon as you’ve shot RAW with the camera, opening Resolve is the next stage, unless you choose an alternative workflow.

Den: Working with Resolve is just stunning, but it takes a learning curve. It’s not just a straight in, plug and play, drop-over-a-look program, it’s much more powerful than that. Blackmagic Design have actually given people a quarter of a million pound piece of software that’s used for grading feature films for free, but I think there’s a danger that users will think that because it’s free it’s going to be easy. However, there’s a real education required when you move towards that Resolve workflow. If you’re going to go down the DNG route, you have to think about doing your dailies, creating that file, exporting that file in the ProRes proxy or whatever into FCP X, cut that, create your grade and then roundtrip it into the DNG format. It is complex, but it’s quite straightforward once you know how. So I think there’s going to be an education required for working with this camera in RAW. But of course, you can just shoot ProRes, and now DNX, and I think that is one of the single most powerful selling points of this camera. The sensor is incredible, so far it’s just blown us away, great dynamic range, but you can acquire your footage in your edit format and that, I think, is transformational.

Changing your editing setup

Den: [The Cinema Camera workflow] made me sell my 17″ MacBook Pro and buy a 15″ Retina Display one. I took the decision early on to get the infrastructure to support this. I bought FCP X about 18 months ago and didn’t really start using it ’til early this year, but I’ve embraced it fully, don’t even have a copy of FCP 7 anymore, and so I’ve realised to go down the Thunderbolt route – I’ve got a Thunderbolt MacBook Pro and an iMac, with the full Resolve setup on both machines – it’s very, very important that you have to get the right hardware.

You also need to think about getting some kind of grading monitor. It’s pointless shooting RAW and grading it on your computer screen, you need a 10-bit monitor. This is a cinema camera and you need to invest in having some cinema tools. I’ve probably spent five to ten grand on monitors and accessories, but it’s still a lot better than buying a RED Scarlet, for example, and I think that’s where I see it, I see this as a Scarlet replacement, giving me the images I want with a good balance between bit depth, dynamic range and the size of the image.

Shooting in 4:2:2

James: Having ProRes/DNxHD as the ‘lower’ recording format in the BMCC shows the camera’s positioning as a professional tool. Image quality has clearly been the leading factor behind the design of the camera and as an online editor and colourist for over ten years, I completely applaud seeing more cameras which offer this type of quality right the way through to post-production. I completely understand the need for compressed formats on other cameras, but after several years of working with H.264 footage from DSLRs I’d had enough and moved onto AVCHD formats, and now to this.

Den: Let’s take DSLRs as an example. If you try and grade DSLR footage, which is 4:2:0, as soon as you pull a key and try and modify a colour of a particular item it just falls apart. You get noise and it just doesn’t work, so you can’t grade that footage very far, which really limits what you can do with the footage once you get it back.

The FS100 and FS700 actually grade very well, given that they’re only an 8-bit 4:2:0 AVCHD codec – something about the AVCHD codec means it holds up much better during colour grading. Then you go to the Cinema Camera and you suddenly take a leap of about ten places, because you’ve got a RAW codec that’s 12-bit and that’s so much more data, so you can pull keys off all sorts of images, push really extreme grades, and the image holds together. Because there’s so much data there, you don’t get any noise, you don’t get the image break up that you’d see with DSLRs.

James: I have a keen eye for detail, especially when it comes to the finishing stage of a project, and as such I really see the benefits in higher bitrate codecs and colour space on a lot of the work we do. Filming live music and concerts in particular puts a huge demand on the cameras used, and the higher the bitrates the more chance of avoiding any macro blocking or image artefacts from strobe lighting and the different intensities of dynamic range which occur with concert lighting.

BMCC hand held with Zeiss

Den: But it’s worth bearing in mind that the majority of Alexa users, even in Hollywood, are shooting in ProRes, so we mustn’t discount how good a codec ProRes is, and has been for some time. A friend of mine is shooting the new season of Dallas, Rodney Charters, and he shoots in ProRes because of the speed. I think the only person not shooting ProRes is Roger Deakins, who just shot Skyfall, and he’s using Codex recorders. And even he shot 2K, and they just up-resed to 4k for the IMAX and he said it was perfectly okay. So what we’re doing is we’re getting access to the same codecs they’re using in Hollywood for an absolute smidgen of the price. So I think as filmmakers, if we can’t all afford the Alexas, we don’t need the Alexas. We can shoot with this camera and get something very, very comparable and work in a similar way to the Alexa workflow.

So where does the Cinema Camera belong?

James: I believe the BMCC has a natural place in high end film, commercial and music shoots. Its only limitations for me at present are a lack of higher frame rates but from an image, production and post-production workflow point of view, the camera is very well suited for professional jobs.

Den: This is something James and I were talking about last night, how we’d love to shoot another gig like Duran Duran using these cameras. I don’t think there’s anything I wouldn’t use it on, because so far I’m so happy with the images that have come back from all the beta testers and the workflow works, so there’s no real reason why I wouldn’t use it. John Brawley’s been shooting a series in Australia called Puberty Blues and he’s been using Alexas and REDs and this camera, so I think speaking to DPs who have been using it on big productions and been happy with it, if I’m happy with it and James is happy with it and Phil Bloom’s happy with it, and everyone else is really happy, then there’s this peer group of professionals I respect and no-one’s saying, “I think this is a bit of a problem…”, so I’d be happy taking it into any environment. I think one area where I haven’t pushed it is in really extreme low light, like in concerts, so I think I’d like to do that at some point and see how it performs there.

James: Any application of high speed cinematography is certainly something the BMCC is currently unsuited for. It is also perhaps not the strongest for very, very low lighting situations as I believe the camera performs better when exposed with more rather than less light. Lastly, the camera is intended as a professional tool. Yes, you could film family holidays with it, but the current price of SSDs, need for professional powering solutions and an advanced post workflow for RAW set it apart from lower priced ‘point and shoot’ video or DSLR cameras.

Den: I think what’s important to consider is you can’t buy one camera that will do everything. The Cinema Camera is not appropriate for every job. If you’re doing something that’s just for the web, depending on the job, I might shoot on the FS100, because the additional time in post does cost the business money, so the budget for the project needs to be there to justify the extra time in post.

Key considerations

James: The first consideration is picking the right choice of lenses so that you can still cover a wide focal range, i.e. choosing either a Sigma 8-16mm or Tokina 11-16mm for the wide end. The second choice is how to power the camera in combination with the type of shooting style and configuration, i.e. shoulder mount with larger IDX, Anton batteries, or handheld using smaller powering solutions from companies like Hawk-Woods. The camera’s recording formats are flexible enough for it to be used in many applications, such as sticking with ProRes/DNxHD for long form work (documentary, live events, etc.) or choosing RAW for shorter form work with a greater post budget (commercials, narrative drama/film). I believe that aside from lacking in higher frame rates, the camera is a very flexible device and will no doubt find itself on a multitude of different jobs and applications that even Blackmagic haven’t imagined yet.

CU Sigma on BMCC

Den: Make sure you budget for your accessories. You’ve got to factor in sometimes more money than the camera for accessories that mean you’re comfortable using it for long periods of time. Remember power distribution, some sort of EVF and some sort of rig, and a tripod that can handle the payload. There’s no point in having all this camera and this wonderful process if you’ve got a crappy tripod.

Choosing your accessories

Den: What I’ve found to be the most important accessory at the moment is power distribution. I’ve got a bebob cage with a V-Lock battery plate with four high-res outputs and two D-tap outputs. I’ve got that powered up and I can power an on-board monitor, I can power an EVF, I can power up a light if I want to and that’s been the most important thing so far.

James: Without doubt the most important accessory is a means to power the camera over an extended shooting period. Hawk-Woods came to my aid early on by developing a battery mount for Sony NPF batteries which allows the camera to be powered as well as recharging the internal battery at the same time. As the camera can take between a 12-30V input this makes it very flexible in terms of how you can power it, however I really like its small portable size and hence why the Hawk-Woods solutions have been ideal for me in keeping the camera size small.

The second most important accessory is then either a variable neutral density filter or matte box to help control exposure when shooting wide open on the lens. The sensor has a natural rating of 800 ASA, and hence it’s important to control exposure with filters to compensate, after all this is called a ‘cinema’ camera, and as such built-in NDs are not included.

Top tips for new users

James: New users of the camera should get out and test shoot with it to gain a good idea of its exposure latitude and how to get the best image from it. Unlike most of the cameras in its league, the Cinema Camera works best with more light than less, or exposing to the right as it’s sometimes called. Other digital camera formats differ in that if clipped, the highlights are not recoverable and as such it’s safer to under expose and pull the mids up. I’ve found that the BMCC can hold incredible amounts of information in the highlights, even when over-exposed, whereas it can get noisier quicker in the mids if under exposed. Testing and getting used to the images and the latitude you have in the grade is the best starting point for anyone picking up the camera for the first time.

Den: You have to remember how much more power you’re getting when you’re dealing with a 12-bit RAW image. You’ve got to make sure your machine is up to spec to handle Resolve, and have a decent graphics card so you can handle the extra processing involved. And get some training! Make sure that you understand. We’re putting together a specific training programme for new users because it can trip you up. There are a lot of extra steps involved in a RAW workflow, but when you do get it right it’s such an exciting and a stunning finish that you get because you have all this extra data, that it’s very much worth it.

To find out what Den and James think about the Cinema Camera and how it fits into their shooting setups,  head back to part one, or click on the link below to see more stills from Den’s Cinema Camera shoot (you can also see the final video here).

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or Like’ our Facebook page.


About the authors

James Tonkin is a filmmaker and director of Hangman Studios, a London-based creative studio that works across commercials, documentaries, music videos and live filming for broadcast, cinema and online. The company specialises in music based projects and clients include Robbie Williams, Coldplay, Duran Duran, Björk, Konami, T-Mobile, Sony and Apple. To get in touch, visit or follow @hangmanstudios on Twitter

In a 17 year career crammed with producer, director, director of photography and lighting cameraman credits on award-winning documentaries, travel programmes and music videos (starring celebrities such as Tom Cruise and Ewan McGregor to U2, Bon Jovi, Kylie Minogue, Robbie Williams and Christina Aguilera), Den Lennie has certainly done his time behind the lens. Now he dedicates 90% of his time to sharing his expertise with the next generation of filmmakers, having started up his own training organisation, F-Stop Academy.  Visit or follow @DenLennie on Twitter.

What’s new in Media Composer and Symphony?

What’s new in Media Composer and Symphony?

Now that we’ve had a chance to see Media Composer 6.5 and Symphony 6.5 in action, we’ve decided it’s time to round up the new features and make sure everyone knows what’s what when it comes to Interplay Sphere, Avid Media Authoring and the new, box-free delivery method.

Remote editing with Interplay Sphere

Interplay Sphere’s remote editing workflow now supports Windows-based NewsCutter and Media Composer users. The idea behind Sphere is that it allows production crews in the field (ENG crews, documentary makers, filmmakers with dailies to share) to connect to an Interplay Sphere server via a high bandwidth communications link, put their footage on that server and then work on it with editors or other collaborators back at the studio.

Most of the heavy lifting in the Sphere environment is done by the server, meaning that crew members can work from a laptop rather than waiting for access to a more complete solution, or having to lug their entire setup out onto location. There is a fair bit of hardware needed to get that server up and running, though, so we’d recommend getting in touch with the team for a chat before committing to an Interplay workflow.

Audio keyframe enhancements, timeline edits and dynamic relinking

You can now create multiple audio keyframes, select the lot from the timeline and copy them all to a different clip or a different area of the same clip.

Other time saving tweaks include the ability to relink to multiple QuickTIme AMA files, rather than having to relink to each individually, and to dynamically relink clips on the timeline to their source media if it’s available over Interplay.

The new-found ability to toggle in and out of hardware mode means that you can access software-only features (full screen mode for playback of a finished project, say) or nip into a program like After Effects and use your control panel on that instead. Media Composer 6.5 also lets you edit titles (but not marquees) directly on the timeline.

New format support

VC1 support may be gone, but to make up for it you now receive full support for the JPEG 2000 (J2K) resolution, DNxHD 100 files, Active Format Description to allow for easier image resizing and the space-saving AS-02 specification, which allows you to group multiple versions of a product into a single bundle to save space and speed up exports. For example, you can bundle a single video track with audio tracks for different languages and export the lot, rather than having to export several seperate video-audio combos.

Remote editing with Interplay Sphere

Interplay Sphere’s remote editing workflow now supports Windows-based NewsCutter and Media Composer users. The idea behind Sphere is that it allows production crews in the field (ENG crews, documentary makers, filmmakers with dailies to share) to connect to an Interplay Sphere server via a high bandwidth communications link, put their footage on that server and then work on it with editors or other collaborators back at the studio.

Most of the heavy lifting in the Sphere environment is done by the server, meaning that crew members can work from a laptop rather than waiting for access to a more complete solution, or having to lug their entire setup out onto location. There is a fair bit of hardware needed to get that server up and running, though, so we’d recommend getting in touch with the team to ensure that the rest of your Avid workflow is up to scratch before committing to an Interplay workflow.

No box!

Maybe it’s a money thing, maybe it’s because they love the environment, but either way Avid are doing away with boxed versions and sending out activation cards and codes instead. These will allow you to download and activate the latest version of your software without the need for another annoying install disc.

Want to know more about the latest Media Composer upgrades? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or Like’ our Facebook page.

Avid launch ISIS storage trade-in offer

Avid launch ISIS storage trade-in offer

If you’re still using one of Avid’s old Unity ISIS units or even a LANshare, it’s time to move on. If you need a gentle push to move away from your aging system, Avid are now offering £264 off your ISIS setup for every Unity or LANshare seat you trade in for an up-to-date ISIS one. (This is on top of the standard hardware trade in discount of £3600 you get when you trade in Unity or LANshare hardware for ISIS gear, so that’s £9100 off in total!).

Avid ISIS 5000

What are the rules?

You buy a 16TB or 32TB ISIS 5000 system, with or without expansion engines, before December 14th, 2012. You can then claim £264 back from Avid for up to 25 Unity or LANshare seats, which gives you a maximum saving of £6600 – almost a quarter of the price of a 16TB ISIS setup.

Why would you want to move to ISIS 5000?

Well, it’s a massively scalable shared storage solution, with capacities ranging from 16TB to 192TB and 90 editing seat licences included with your initial purchase, so scaling upward as your business grows won’t be a problem. However, the real benefit is in the speed and flexibility of this system versus its predecessors.

Features like FlexDrive, which allows you to add workspaces and change the amount of space assigned to each on the fly, mean that managing your assets and ensuring priority jobs are always given the resources they need is now far easier. And the ISIS file system has been designed from the ground up to help you deliver realtime QoS to multiple workspaces and support simultaneous access to media, which anyone who’s managing a busy facility will appreciate.

If you’ve got artists using a range of different platforms to edit, you’ll be pleased to hear that ISIS 5000 can integrate with the editing and asset management systems in Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5 and Apple Final Cut Pro.

Not got anything to trade? You can still save a bundle…

Avid are also offering a discount on anyone who buys a 16TB or 32TB ISIS alongside one of their ‘Get Creative’ bundles. You can choose from either five Mojo DX or five Nitris DS I/O, monitoring and acceleration solutions, and pair them with either five new Media Composer licences or five upgrades from the version you’re currently on to Media Composer 6.5. Avid will then tot it all up and give you £5400 off the lot. Ace.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page.