News

Featured

‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success’ is Back Online at Last!

It felt like forever that we haven’t been able to access our US-based servers, the Internet, the World Wide Web and our email accounts or make phone calls due to a catastrophic failure of Telstra’s inadequate, ageing underground copper wire network but we are finally back online here at Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success. 

A Telstra technician has just arrived to check our home phone lines again as we still don’t have a working telephone, but during the course of the last few weeks offline we learned some home truths about Australia’s telecommunications infrastructure.

Foremost is that the underground copper wire network continues to degrade under the unseasonal heavy rainstorms that have become a fixed feature of Sydney life since global warming kicked in big-time.

Although the copper wire in our local area appears to be of the correct width, it is half that width in nearby suburbs including the one across the valley where we lived in movie director Cate Shortland’s former house. There, “broadband” runs at speeds little higher than dial-up for that reason and the long distance to the nearest phone exchange.

Dial-up speeds at some of the world’s highest “broadband” prices made working from home next to impossible there so we moved across the valley to this suburb where the nearest phone exchange is much closer and where the copper wiring, we were told, is much better.

Except it is buried under soil that becomes supersaturated during heavy rains, causing the network to stop working altogether. Service can be restored each time that occurs but only after many weeks and man hours of work by Telstra technicians and contractors.

Another factor is the financial structure of the nation’s wholesale and retail telecommunications.

Telstra owns the copper network and leases access to it to competing phone and Internet access retailers like TPG at maximum speeds slower than what Telstra’s own retail customers can obtain.

When the network breaks down, Telstra’s retail customers get highest priority while the customers of Telstra’s competitors are at the bottom of the list. If a Telstra technician spots a problem with a competitor’s customer’s access, they will ignore it until specifically instructed by Telstra management to go out again and fix it. That can take weeks.

Rather than get caught up in this vicious cycle yet again, we have elected to go above ground and signed up with Telstra’s 100 Mbps (maximum) HFC service for telephone and Internet access.

Our cable access kicked into operation a couple of days ago and the download speeds are acceptable compared to what our TPG ADSL2+ access had degenerated into since moving here several years ago.

Our upload speeds are another thing again. Australia has one of the slowest ranges of upload speeds in the world.

Good enough, I suppose, for non-creatives who only want to watch Foxtel television and send the occasional email. Appalling for creative people who need to work off servers and Internet services and websites based in the United States and other parts of the world.

That problem is becoming more acute as media production movies into ever larger formats for stills and video.

Now that Panasonic has released its Lumix GH5 4K stills/video camera overseas to incredible pre-order numbers, more creatives will be shooting, editing, uploading and sharing more 4K DCI and UHD movie files than ever before.

The GH5 is capable of 6K video through its 6K Photo mode and moviemakers have already begun shooting and sharing in that format.

Recently I had to bite the bullet and began uploading photographs as full-size JPEGs at 100% quality due to overseas customer and publisher demand.

Uploading 4K video over our new cable connection takes hours, locking up the system. Uploading a set of 100%-quality full-size JPEGs is just as painful.

Our nearest Apple Store is going to be seeing far more of us now, flash drives in hand, sending videos and photographs to US servers so we can continue working on Untitled and other projects as well as begin servicing clients and publishers.

If the Australian federal government is operating under the aim of turning all Australians into media consumers only while killing off independent media creation in this country then they are succeeding admirably.

Let’s hope that we are not forcibly connected to the NBN anytime soon, thus losing whatever speed gains we recently obtained via HFC.

Right now we have a great deal of catching up to do with content at Untitled, so please bear with us.

Postscript:

Coming soon. Things get better and things get worse with telecommunications and self-financing.

Links:

Cosyspeed’s Camslinger Streetomatic+ Camera Hip Bag for Mirrorless Heroes Is Now Available in Cruelty-Free Black

Camera bag maker Cosyspeed has released the black version of its largest hip bag, the Camslinger Streetomatic+. The Camslinger line is, in effect, a distant descendant of a pair of belt packs I relied on during the analog era to protect my beloved Leica rangefinder cameras and lenses but that, in the end, badly let them down. Cosyspeed’s modern styling, anti-cruelty artificial leather, internal and external pockets, and integrated waist belt go far beyond those now mouldering traditionally styled leather-trimmed failed hip bags in the realms of safety and comfort. 

The Cosyspeed Camslinger Streetomatic+ belt pack hip bag for "mirrorless heroes" is generously-sized enough to carry a DSLR as well as a range of mirrorless hybrid stills/video cameras, and is made with cruelty-free, synthetic materials that should not attract mould as animal leather does., a win on several fronts.
The Cosyspeed Camslinger Streetomatic+ belt pack hip bag for “mirrorless heroes” is generously-sized enough to carry a DSLR as well as a range of mirrorless hybrid stills/video cameras, and is made with cruelty-free, synthetic materials that should not attract mould as animal leather does, a win on several fronts.

While previous Streetomatic bags have looked promising from their images and descriptions online, the Streetomatic+ looks to be the first large enough to carry my mirrorless still and video bare essentials while still being smaller than my currently smallest cross-shoulder bag, the Peak Design Everyday Messenger 13.

I chose the smaller Everyday Messenger as I must be careful not to over-stress neck and spine permanently damaged by a lifetime of carrying movie and photography equipment starting with the big Zero Halliburton cases I carted about the deserts of Western Australia as a corporate photographer with mining company clients.

Despite its small size as a messenger bag, and the small load I carry in it, I still experience shoulder pain in the middle of a long day shooting. A waist bag would be a welcome relief but the only one I have now, in its two sizes, Think Tank Photo’s innovative Multimedia Wired Up 10 and Multimedia Wired Up 20, had its life prematurely cut short when it was discontinued.

A selection of bags from Think Tank Photo's innovative, pioneering Multimedia Wired Up Collection, now sadly long discontinued. If it had continued to evolve through the mirrorless hybrid camera era this bag design would have been a force to contend with in stills and video production. I collected the complete set and have them in storage.
A subset of bags from Think Tank Photo’s innovative, pioneering Multimedia Wired Up Collection, now sadly long discontinued. If it had continued to evolve through the mirrorless hybrid camera era this bag design would have been a force to contend with in stills and video production. I collected the complete set and have them in storage.

The Multimedia Wired Up Collection was a brilliant response to the needs of the pioneers of DSLR-based multimedia stills and video production but it predated the mirrorless revolution that cemented the hybrid stills/video camera concept. It was a set of products before its time.

Had Think Tank Photo continued developing the collection into the mirrorless era then it would have had an enduring winner. When the writing was on the wall and Multimedia Wired Up Collection bags began vanishing from foreign online retailers, I set out to collect them all and continue to use some of them to this day, with the rest in storage.

The Multimedia collection’s centrepieces were the two Wired Up belt packs, described as belt bags at the time. Each has a waist belt and each bag’s internal carrying capacity can be enhanced by attaching further bags from the collection or other packs in Think Tank Photo’s Belt Systems.

I like to assume that the two Wired Up bags might have evolved by gaining more dimensional stability, trading too much softness and collapsibility for a sturdier frame.

As ProVideo Coalition’s review of the Multimedia Wired Up 20 indicates, both belt bags need to be supplemented with one or both of the crossover shoulder straps that come with them. Neither works as a pure belt bag and adding one or two shoulder straps exacerbates my spine and shoulder problems.

Cosyspeed Camslinger Steetomatic+

Is Cosypeed’s Camslinger Streetomatic+ the waist bag I had hoped my two Multimedia Wired Up belt bags might have been, apart from the wired-up cable integration aspect of Think Tank Photo’s underlying concept?

It is hard to tell from the online evidence alone: only a good hands-on tryout can put that possibility to the test. From the photographs above, it can carry mirrorless and DSLR cameras minus battery grips, with a zoom lens attached or two smaller prime lenses, and I am hoping that a small external microphone like Røde’s VideoMicro with windshield or even its amazing Stereo VideoMic X may fit instead of the second prime lens illustrated above.

Multimedia Wired Up Bags and StuffIt! to supplement the Streetomatic+?

I am also hoping that the Streetomatic+ permits attaching other belt bags from the Multimedia Wired Up collection, above, contemporary belt bags like Think Tank Photo’s Stuff It! (I have two, as they are so handy for personal items) or either or both of Cosyspeed’s own supplemental belt bags, the LensBag 80 and StuffBag 30.

Despite the uniqueness and utility of its bags, Cosyspeed has yet to find a distributor in Australia so I have not had the chance to examine any of its products and thus my questions remain unanswered for now.

The ultimate bag for the mirrorless hero. … Thomas Leuthard

One thing is for certain, the arrival of advanced stills/video cameras like the Panasonic Lumix GH5, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, the Fujifilm X-Pro, X-T2 and X-T20, the Sony Alpha 9, the rest of the Alpha series and other mirrorless hybrids, has shifted the photography and moviemaking landscapes for those of us needing to work alone and light on our feet.

I look forward to camera bag makers keeping pace with camera makers and am hoping that the Cosyspeed Camslinger Streetomatic+ may prove to be a suitable centrepiece for a lightweight carrying solution that other bags and belt systems I have owned or tried out have not.

 Links:

fcp.co: Off the Tracks – A Documentary About How Final Cut Pro X is Disrupting the Post Production Industry

http://www.fcp.co/final-cut-pro/articles/1966-off-the-tracks-a-documentary-about-how-final-cut-pro-x-is-disrupting-the-post-production-industry

Macphun: Celebrate! Macphun Photo Software is Coming to Windows PC

https://macphun.com/pc

Cages for the Panasonic Lumix GH5: At Least Two Being Designed Right Now – ARTICLE UPDATED

Prescript, as it were:

Since I wrote this article near the beginning of 2017, a number of camera cages for the Panasonic Lumix GH5 have appeared on the market and I have been able to take a look online at many of them. In the case of one GH5 cage, Seercam’s Cube GH5, I have been kindly sent one and have had the opportunity of taking a closer look than websites permit. 

Seercam's Cube form-fitting GH5 camera cage with one-touch quick-release Classic Plus top handle, finger support handle and quick-release rod riser.
Seercam’s Cube form-fitting GH5 camera cage with one-touch quick-release Classic Plus top handle, finger support handle (not shown) and quick-release rod riser.

I admit to a degree of well-informed bias. I have a Seercam cage for my GH4 and it has served me and my GH4 well, amply living up to Seercam’s mission of providing the best protection possible. If it were not for that cage, my GH4 might be in pieces due to an accident that occurred shortly after I bought it. The cage took the impact and my GH4 was saved.

Motion9 GH4 cage at left, Seercam GH5 cage at front and SmallRig GX8 cage at rear right.
My current cage collection: Motion9 GH4 cage at left, Seercam GH5 cage at front and SmallRig GX8 cage at rear right.

Seercam, by the way, is the new international trading brand name for the South Korean camera accessories company Motion9 and so my GH4 cage was branded as a Motion9 product.

After buying my GH4 cage, named the CubeMix GH4/3 due to it fitting the GH4 and GH3, Motion9 improved its design with the addition of a quick-release top handle and a quick-release cable clamp under the new product name, CubeMix GH4/3 Pro.

If those accessories were still in production, I would snap them up in a second as they solve the single biggest problem I had with the GH4 cage back then, the need to rapidly remove and reattach the CubeMix GH4/3’s three handles when working fast on location.

Quick release accessories, whether attached via dovetail rails, NATO rails or Arri rosettes, are clearly the way to go for speed and efficiency and permit safely carrying your caged camera about in a backpack or shoulder bag then quickly removing it and snapping on handles and other quick release accessories ready for work.

None of my current shoulder bags or backpacks are dedicated video camera bags permitting carriage of fully assembled video rigs, but Peak Design’s 30-litre Everyday Backpack with its flexible internal space has proven to be a good solution for carrying cage-mounted cameras and other oddly-shaped and sized video equipment.

UK Lumix Luminary Nick Driftwood's anamorphic moviemaking rig. Panasonic's Lumix GH5 is suitable for tripod-mounted big rig moviemaking as well as mobile handheld video cinematography.
UK Lumix Luminary Nick Driftwood’s anamorphic moviemaking rig. Panasonic’s Lumix GH5 is suitable for tripod-mounted big rig moviemaking as well as mobile handheld video cinematography.

Sometimes though, transporting a fully assembled video rig is beyond the capabilities of even the best and biggest bag. Nick Driftwood’s GH5 rig for anamorphic moviemaking above, also depicted further down this page, is a case in point.

Anamorphic lenses aside, big rigs like Mr Diftwood’s are not uncommon when shooting full-length documentaries, the main purpose for which I bought my GH4 then added Motion9’s CubeMix GH4/3 cage followed by a Panasonic DMW-BGGH3 battery grip for stability and added power in handheld video and stills photography.

Seercam's Cube GH5 camera cage, Extension Kit for GH5, rod riser and Classic Plus Handle can accommodate some hefty camera rigs if need be. Alternatively, their Cube GH5 cage is lightweight yet protective enough for stripped-down rigs consisting of camera and lens only.
Seercam’s Cube GH5 camera cage, Extension Kit for GH5, rod riser and Classic Plus Handle can accommodate some hefty camera rigs if need be. Alternatively, their Cube GH5 cage is lightweight yet protective enough for stripped-down rigs consisting of camera and lens only.

Communications with the Seercam team reveal they are working on further GH5 solutions including an international-standard external battery pack, a special longer rod for the Extension Kit for Cube GH5, left and right side handles and an updated quick release rod riser.

Links:


The original article:

With the March 2017 release of Panasonic’s Lumix GH5 Super 16/Micro Four Thirds looming, my attention turns to the many and various accessories needed to make the most of this revolutionary camera. One essential accessory for filmmakers seriously considering the GH5 is a cage, and at least two cage-makers are known to be working on designs at the moment. 

Camera accessories maker SmallRig is currently working on this lightweight cage for the Panasonic Lumix GH5 and is inviting input from interested parties. I have a SmallRig cage for my Panasonic Lumix GX8 and recommend it. Seercam, formerly Motion9, is also working on a cage for the GH5.

I am most familiar with two brands of cage makers – SmallRig and Seercam, formerly Motion9, links below. I currently own one cage made by each and would definitely consider purchasing from both again.

The folks at SmallRig design their new products via a crowdsourcing process, as it were, seeking input and new ideas from users. Seercam is interested in hearing from potential users and I have, accordingly, sent them the photograph of Nick Driftwood’s GH5 anamorphic rig below.

More images of SmallRig’s GH5 cage currently in development

The Seercam folks tell me that they are waiting to test one of the three GH5s currently available in South Korea and will finish their design at the beginning of March. They will be showing it and other products off at NAB in April.

Nick Driftwood’s GH5 rig for anamorphic moviemaking

UK Panasonic Lumix brand ambassador Nick Driftwood’s anamorphic GH5 rig featuring the GH5, battery grip, XLR1 audio adapter, Atomos Shogun Inferno monitor/recorder for 4K 5pp/60p 10-bit 4:2:2 ProRes, SLR Magic 35mm x2 anamorphic lens, Lanparte matte box, Røde NTG2 microphone phantom-powered from the XLR1 hotshoe. “We need to see a special GH5 cage design for the XLR1 from hardware companies,” Mr Driftwood says. That XLR1-savvy design should allow placing the unit anywhere off-hotshoe via a custom cable.

At the very least a cage must offer protection for the camera within and prevent twisting and damage when accessories are mounted on it.

I am not fond of mounting large or heavy microphones or recorders on hotshoes – I would much prefer to attach them via coldshoes on a cage. If something untoward happens to the coldshoe then it can be replaced. Not so a hotshoe.

I am becoming enamoured of battery grips especially when shooting battery-sucking 10-bit 4:2:2 4K or DCI. I prefer attaching recorders beneath the camera and attaching mics to them via coiled XLR cables.

At present I don’t use a rig like the one in Mr Driftwood’s photograph, but I may well need a rig like that minus the anamorphic lens when shooting a feature-length documentary.

The rest of the time my typical rig will be stripped right down for MOS (without sound) handheld video, or with a recorder beneath camera-plus-battery-grip and a microphone on top of the cage. Plus variations.

If a cage and its accessories can be made to accommodate all the typical scenarios one encounters in the course of a typical working career in stills and video – I often use cages for both applications – then I will be very happy indeed.

Links:

Image Credits:

Header image concept and production by Carmel D. Morris. Apologies to ELP.

Photograph of Nick Driftwood’s Panasonic Lumix GH5 rig courtesy of Nick Driftwood.

Tech Notes:

Hero image of SmallRig cage for the Panasonic Lumix GH5 processed in Alien Skin Exposure X2 using a cyanotype preset.