micro camera

So our latest camera purchase is not a Black Magic pocket or a preorder on a digital Bolex, though that is pretty tempting. I finally caved and joined the ranks of the GoPro legion. I’ve used these a couple of times for point of view camera. Strapped to a bike it gives a cool perspective. Of course extreme sports people are the primary customers. Anyway, the justification was that we could use the camera(s) in places that we can’t get angles with traditional cameras. Little Tree Films does lifestyle work, so weddings and other life events are the projects we work on. With these types of shoots coverage is very important and there are no second takes. What I like about this little camera is that it is so small an unobtrusive that you can put it anywhere. The capability to shoot 1080 at 60 fps or even 120 fps at 720 is appealing too. The ultra wide everything in focus is the downside, but every system has a tradeoff. I’ve seen people come up with adaptors to add c-mount lens to the front of the GoPro to allow focus and aperture control. I really don’t think these people understand the purpose of a GoPro. It reminds me of a time about 8 years ago when P+S Technik and RedRockMicro were adding these crazy adaptors to DV and HD cameras.

In addition to the GoPro and the many different mounting options we also picked up the Steadicam Curve. A small stabilizer designed specifically for the GoPro. It is a new item, so it hasn’t arrived yet, but I’m looking forward to handing it off to Finn to see what he comes up with.

the day that Final Cut Pro (7) died

(or how I finally gave up and began to accept Premiere)

It has been more than 2 years since Apple announce FCPX. Many of us looked at it and decided to hold on to FCP 7 a little tighter. A bit of history (for me) about Premiere. Back in the mid to late 90s digital non-linear editing was just getting off the ground for those not able to afford the AVID. At school we had some crazy system with outboard capture cards and rendering and monitoring. At the heart of it was this program from a company that made Photoshop. Adobe Premiere. I don’t remember all the 3rd party stuff, I just remember the status bar saying “about a day” to render a 30 second clip. This is before mini-DV, but still very much Standard Definition. This had me running back to the film editing room where the Moviola hummed my name.

Shortly after that AVID became less expensive so I got some experience on that and it was great, but still a very specialized system. Then about 2 years later, Apple introduced Final Cut Pro. We had DV cameras, Firewire and an editing program that was cheap and worked. For about 10 years that was the case. And for many of us it has been 5 years since we’ve seen an update, but that’s ok, we’re still making it work.

Until today.

After getting a new machine and a new operating system things have come to an end. It wasn’t like a light switch turning off the program like an update of iTunes. (that is another horror story) Working on a project transcoding DSLR footage into FCP I thought it was strange that a couple of clips were very short. I hadn’t remembered turning off the camera like that. I quick check of the files and sure enough they were not transcoded correctly. Ok, new project, lets try again. Same result. We shot with 2 cameras, maybe just an issue there. Sure enough I found a couple files that weren’t right. That’s when it happened. Launch Adobe Premiere and import files. Set-up project and begin.

For all these years Premiere has gone through many changes and was thought of as second rate, not quite right, quirky. Well maybe it is, but for right now it works and is (so far) just as comfortable as FCP7.


On a recent tour of the grip rental house I was reminded of how much I loved using the Fisher 11 dolly. Those smooth subtle movements inching forward or back or across the subject. I still like those shots but I don’t get to use the big dolly anymore. Today’s world has the slider. These things came out of DIY garages and the grips’ speed-rail bin. After a few years the some of the sliders on the market are very nice. As long as you know the limitations. My first purchase was the inexpensive Konova K2 from South Korea. As long as the camera was really small and it was well supported the shots were pretty smooth. Center mounted the camera was too bouncy on either end so the image looked bad. Also because the channel was narrow the center of gravity for the camera couldn’t be very high. So with tripod head and camera and monitor it was too bouncy again.

The next purchase after watching the product demo video over and over was the Edelkrone slider plus v2 from Turkey. I’ve had this for a couple of months now and it is greatly improved on the K2, but at three times the cost I would expect it to be. The small footprint is the best part. The wobble from track length is not there. Because of the small size the center of gravity can be an issue too if the camera is too high or heavy. Lately I have been using this slider on shoots and really liking the results. This little tree films video we made last month uses the slider in much of the behind the scenes footage.

Just this week I came across another slider by a company called Trost that has just begun shipping and is from Minnesota. The video and testimonials look great. And it supports large and small cameras. The price is twice as much as the Edelkrone but the features including the dual axis slider look amazing. I look forward to renting one of these as they become available.

So I would still like to rent a fisher or peewee dolly for the next shoot, but I would also like to rent a real camera too. Thanks to these tools and a little care we can make it look like they spent a lot more on the production.