Trouble at the Old Mill IV: IT – Behind the scenes

Trouble at the Old Mill IV: IT – Behind the scenes

MacBook Pros have been disappearing all over Jigsaw24 HQ, and there are reports of a mysterious red balloon making its way around the office. Three intrepid team members headed down to the depths of the basement store room to take on the ghoulish clown causing all the trouble…

We had a blast filming the latest instalment of Trouble at the Old Mill, starring our very willing junior copywriter Joe as the titular clown. Aside from a rubber mask, some face paint and a bright yellow raincoat, our kit list for filming the video featured a range of great products from Canon to Adobe. Our director and in-house videographer Simon let us know what was used to create the Halloween magic…

The kit

CAMERA: Canon C100

“The C100 is nice and simple to use,” says Simon. “The controls are quite similar to Canon’s DSLRs, so setting white balance, aperture and ISO is all very quick and straightforward. It’s also pretty compact for carrying around and setting up – the camera, lens, multiple mics and power all fit in one backpack-style camera bag.

“The camcorder is known for its ability in low light, which was useful for some of those dark storeroom shots where I bumped the ISO up pretty high without the noise getting unbearable. I tried out a different picture profile for this video than I usually use for normal corporate videos. The ‘cinema’ profile is very flat in tone and desaturated in colour, which provides greater scope for grading later on.”

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“One thing that I wish this model had (which the C100 Mk II and other cameras in the range have) is higher frame rate shooting options. A couple of shots would have looked really good in slow motion, but at 25fps I couldn’t slow it down without the image visibly lagging.”

You can still pick up the Canon C100 Mk I at only £2039, or treat yourself to the C100 Mk II at only £2999, which now comes with a FREE Atomos Ninja Blade!

LENS: Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Telephoto Lens

“This range of focal lengths provides great versatility without having to keep buying and swapping lots of lenses. I used the longer focal lengths (and positioned myself further from the subject) for getting shots with nice shallow depth of field, and shorter ones for fitting everything in the shot where space was restricted. At 2.8L it’s also pretty fast, which again helped in those low light situations.”

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MICROPHONE: Sennheiser MD 46 Handheld Cardioid Dynamic ENG Microphone

“I’d never used this mic before, but my usual lapel and shotgun mics were picking up too much background noise when we were trying to record dialogue in a noisy office. Its intended use is for reporters, so it’s very directional and cuts out a lot of peripheral sound. This meant we had to position it very carefully when trying to pick up multiple voices, hence some very precarious boom setups (that actually appear in the video once or twice if you look closely…).”

The Sennheiser MD 46 is just £190 right now!

MICROPHONE: Rode NTG-2 Shotgun Condenser Microphone

“For backup, and because I had a spare channel I thought I may as well use, I kept my usual shotgun mic attached to the top of the camera and pointed at the action the whole time. I didn’t end up mixing this into the edit very much, but at low levels it occasionally added a subtle ambience when combined with the Sennheiser.”

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LIGHTING: Photoflex Medium Starlite Kit

“We have two big softboxes and a smaller Dedolight. I don’t really have any clue on how you’re meant to use these, but spent a lot of time aimlessly moving them around so everyone else would think I knew what I was doing.”

If you know more about lights than Simon, we’ve got the Photoflex Medium Starlite Kit for £440

 

The editing software

INGEST: Adobe Premiere Pro and Media Encoder

“One feature in Premiere Pro which I’m a big fan of is Proxy Workflow. I set the project ingest settings to automatically create proxies, so whenever I imported from the browser window into the project in Premiere Pro, Media Encoder would open and do its thing in the background. This then meant I could edit with lower resolution previews, so there was none of the frustrating stopping and starting that can occur when working with full HD footage. There’s a simple toggle switch for going between the proxies and the full res files, which I used when working on finer detail grading and sharpening.”

EDITING: Adobe Premiere Pro

“I used Premiere Pro for sorting through the source files, adding markers at points in the shots that I thought I was going to use, and started dragging clips on to a timeline. Because the video has distinct scenes, with different looks and sound requirements, I edited each one separately in a nested sequence, then lined them all up and worked out the transitions between them on a master sequence. I used a lot more film dissolve and crossfades from the Effects pane than I would on a normal corporate video to try and get the edits flowing smoothly and to accentuate the atmosphere of the scenes.”

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COLOUR CORRECTION AND GRADING: Lumetri Color in Premiere Pro

“Lumetri Color is an incredibly powerful and versatile colour tool in Premiere Pro. My process with it was to use its ‘basic’ controls to hone the white balance and overall levels so that the shot looked neutral. Then it has a set of ‘creative’ controls for giving the footage more of a distinct look.

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“After trying out a LOT of third party LUTs, I ended up using the same one throughout (but increased and decreased in strength), which just seemed most natural with the footage we’d shot and added an extra level of consistency between shots. I did all of this on adjustment layers above the source footage on the timeline so that each clip was treated the same without having to go in and apply to each individually.”

SOUND MIXING: Premiere Pro

“All of the sound was mixed in Premiere Pro too. The source footage generally needed some gain control for consistency between clips and then a bit of EQ, compression and a tiny hint of reverb. I also used noise reduction for most of the dialogue because the ambient office sounds were distracting and inconsistent between shots. Because it then sounded unnaturally quiet between lines, I mixed in a stock effect of an office environment.”

SPECIAL EFFECTS: After Effects

“Titles and a few special effects were done in After Effects. The dynamic link between the apps allows me to see the graphics I’m working on in After Effects over the video footage in Premiere Pro instantly.

“Trying to make the cloud of bats was my first experience with the Particle World effect. I think it’s more designed for small, non-descript particles that look like rain drops or suchlike, but I applied it to a bat shape I made in Illustrator and it turned out pretty much how I wanted.”

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“The clown coming out of the computer was also my first go at filming against a green screen. I tried to get the lighting even and consistent with the shot I needed to composite it with while shooting, then used the Keylight effect in After Effects. Playing around with the Keylight controls managed to isolate the clown how I wanted, but I found I still had to animate a couple of masks frame by frame to get it looking right as it moved in and out of the laptop.”

Find out more about Adobe’s great video-editing apps here.

You’ll save too… check out our scarily good savings at www.Jigsaw24.com/offers, get in touch with the sales team on 03332 400 888 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, events and hauntings, follow us on Twitter @WeAreJigsaw24 or like us on Facebook.

 

Survive and thrive: How to stay ahead in an evolving creative IT landscape

Survive and thrive: How to stay ahead in an evolving creative IT landscape

Your IT infrastructure may be on top form now, but you never know what’s around the corner…

We’re here to help you develop a responsive, resilient IT infrastructure that can support your business in an unpredictable IT landscape, and make sure that rather than just surviving IT setbacks, your business is thriving and moving forward, and you’re not caught out by technological change.

For more information about how our solutions and services can help you survive and thrive, get in touch with the team by calling 03332 400 888 or emailing sales@Jigsaw24.comFor all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

iPad: Overcoming IT and teaching challenges

iPad: Overcoming IT and teaching challenges

IT can be a pain for schools for a whole load of reasons, but Apple’s signature tablet can provide a lasting solution to all your teaching and tech woes.

In case you missed it, we provide 1:1 iPad deployment to schools throughout the UK, and it’s been shown to improve student engagement, performance and attendance, but it doesn’t stop there.

Futureproof and cost efficient

Keeping up with the latest tech is important for any school – if it falls behind with IT, odds are it’ll fall behind other institutions. While spending to stay up to date can be off-putting at first, with iPad, the small initial capital cost will be made up thanks to future savings on routine kit upgrades, and it’ll even save you a few pennies on reprographics when documents, worksheets and presentations can be shared between devices and viewed onscreen. Regular software updates ensure iPad won’t lag behind when it comes to app support, and you’ll get all the latest security features, bug fixes and new features iOS has to offer as they’re released.

If you’re struggling to shake that money worry, cost neutral schemes can offset the initial outlay. Operating leases, for example, can soften the cost of paying for the goods in full, letting schools get their hands on the latest tech without breaking the budget.

Keep track of student progress

Mobile devices like iPad allow teachers to keep on top of student progress thanks to realtime assessment. This is great for creating personalised tasks for individual students that are fine-tuned to suit their abilities, and apps like Socractive were designed with this in mind. Whether you’re sharing pre-prepared assessments or dishing out spur of the moment questions for pupils to answer, Socractive helps teachers connect with students as they learn, providing a greater insight into student engagement.

Let’s be honest here, teachers don’t like marking work, and audio feedback apps like Showbie not only save them time (often up to five hours a week), they provide new ways of assessing work while engaging students with constructive criticism. Parents and carers of pupils can access any digital feedback too, offering further support for their child’s learning and development.

The latest and greatest teaching tools

High standards of teaching are key to any classroom, and top notch tech helps support it. That’s why iPad allows teachers to share pedagogical information and exchange ideas and best practices with other teachers, enabling them to develop new teaching techniques, materials and lesson plans. iPad helps schools formulate clear training strategies for teachers, ensuring that all staff get the most out of their new teaching tools whatever their previous experience level.

If you’d like to find out more about iPad in education, drop us an email at education@Jigsaw24.com or call 03332 409 290. For everything else, including the latest news, events and offers, follow us on Twitter @WeAreJigsaw24 or ‘like’ us on Facebook.

 

Jigsaw24 achieves Jamf Gold Reseller status!

Jigsaw24 achieves Jamf Gold Reseller status!

Joining an elite group of four in the UK, Jigsaw24 has received Gold Reseller accreditation from Jamf. As a Gold Reseller and System Integrator, we’ve demonstrated continued commitment to Jamf, customer service and sport a strong sales record.

In 2015, we sold a cool 7252 Jamf Pro licences and performed 37 JumpStarts (including 42 total JumpStart sales), successfully integrating Apple IT into schools and businesses throughout the UK. Last year, we provided more JumpStarts than any other partner in the UK. A JumpStart engagement accompanies all purchases of Jamf Pro – a certified JumpStart integrator will work alongside your staff to implement your new system, and integrate it seamlessly into your existing IT environment.

Jamf Pro allows businesses and schools to harness the power of Apple hardware and manage it accordingly. Designed with self-sufficiency in mind, Apple Mobile Device Management is incorporated into Jamf Pro providing establishments full control over their Apple hardware and individual user activities – a powerful, unified solution for device management.

We are the UK’s No. 1 Jamf Pro reseller, having sold 10% more than any other partner in 2015. Jamf are dedicated to providing the hottest Apple tech to businesses and educational institutions all over the country, offering some of the best IT implementation and integration solutions around. Our engineers work in conjunction with Jamf to JumpStart Jamf Pro, and deliver refreshed, reliable IT infrastructure.

Gold Resller status and being a system integrator reaffirms our strong relationship with the guys over at Jamf, and our commitment to delivering high-quality IT solutions and system integration services to our customers.

We can now add a Gold Reseller badge to our growing list of industry-recognised qualifications, which also includes Avid Elite Reseller, Adobe Platinum Reseller and Apple Premium Service Provider accreditations. We’re pretty good at what we do.

If you’d like to know more about Jamf and Jamf Pro, call us on 03332 400 888, email sales@Jigsaw24.com, ‘like’ us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter @WeAreJigsaw24

 

Shared storage for a video editing suite at Bath Spa Uni

Shared storage for a video editing suite at Bath Spa Uni

Bath Spa University were looking for an 11-seat, multi-user video editing suite. They gave Jigsaw24 a call and we helped them find the solution to meet their performance and budgetary requirements, and ensure that they were able to undertake real-world professional projects. As well as including the capacity for future upgrades, our experts implemented a render farm to operate out of hours.

Bath Spa offers a range of courses, from pre-degree study to postgraduate degrees. The university, home to around 5,500 students, has achieved exceptionally high rankings in the national league table. It has also been designated as a Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in the creative industries, with strong links with key employers and industry partners.

Bath Spa University have made a significant investment in resources and facilities available to their students, both at the Bath School of Art and Design and the Schools of Music and Performing Arts.

Marrying professional and educational requirements

The university wanted an 11-seat video editing suite with a commercial focus that would be capable of fulfilling real briefs to a professional standard. The technical requirements included managed logins for full- and part-time students, fully shared data storage and roaming home folders and real performance suited to video editing by multiple users. It was also important for the university that the proposed solution consisted of professional industry tools, as completed projects could be used to generate revenue.

Designing a storage solution

Sammy Aindow, one of Jigsaw24’s leading systems and storage consultants, helped Bath Spa University investigate a number of possible solutions. Sammy specialises in backend broadcast and post-production systems, so he was able to assess exactly what was needed.

He decided against a ten Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) storage solution, as it was not the best value for money in this instance and instead suggested a Fibre Channel-based SAN, with redundant metadata controllers for high availability. The Fibre Channel fabric offered redundancy and 8Gb per second capability, which would give the university the opportunity to double their storage bandwidth in the future. In addition to this, tight directory integration would provide the centralised management and security required.

Careful coordination and project management

As the new video editing suite was located in a newly acquired university building where construction was still underway, careful coordination and project management was required. Components for the suite were delivered independently from a number of sources, while a subcontractor installed the Fibre cabling onsite. We organised and carried out the task efficiently, without encountering any problems.

The project was completed, including the final stage of configuration, in approximately three days. Technicians at the university undertook some preliminary work and set up their client machines, while our onsite engineers configured and installed the servers and storage.

Seeing the benefits…

The university now has enhanced professional facilities to offer both its staff and students. The addition of a compressor cluster was not in their original specification but has essentially resulted in the university getting two solutions for the price of one. Several options for redundancy and failover were incorporated to improve reliability and optimise the availability of the systems.

We made sure that Bath Spa got the best possible prices, enabling them to implement the latest 8Gb-ready Fibre Channel switching at no extra cost, with the capacity to double the bandwidth of their storage network in the future.

Want to know more about shared storage for your video setup? Get in touch with the team on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook