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Mark Todd New Zeeland Olympian

posted 9 Oct 2016, 05:53 by Ben Edwards

Recently shot a video for the new Zealand Herold.  It consisted of an interview and cutaways and was edited by The herold.  The video can be viewed at

The House That Kids Built

posted 6 May 2016, 12:51 by Ben Edwards   [ updated 11 May 2016, 10:03 ]

Recently finished cutting a 20 minute documenters 'The Schholhouse Project' about school-kids (from the sage of 7) who built a house.  Kids with power tools, what is there not to like.

The project was the brainchild of Dame Sally Coates (headmistress) and Roderick James (founding Director at The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT)) and the film was directed and produced by Nathan Hughes Rough Glory Films.'

"We are extremely pleased to confirm that Burlington Danes Academy is hosting and participating in anexciting social projectmthis year. The innovative 'Schoolhouse Project' involves a team of staff and students working closely together to build a fully-functioning timber house on the academy grounds.

The challenge explores a practical and alternative approach to education, with the participating students gaining a wealth of valuable hands-on experience.The project demands the development and application of a range of important personal attributes, such as communication, confidence, drive and discipline, alongside an array of essential technical skills."

Video and audio streaming made easy

posted 22 Mar 2016, 06:25 by Ben Edwards

Recently I have been doing video and audio streaming.  Thought i would share with you my experiences.

For either of these you need a internet service provider who provide a streaming service.  I use a small community service in Bristol, They provide a very cost effective and reliable service.


Adobe provide a great, and free, video streaming program.  There free version is still available and works well.  There free version is still available from Adobe Media Encoder. Its relatively easy to setup and provides a reliable stream to send to your streaming provider.


While Adobe Media Encoder can encode audio i prefer to use a Rasbery Pi with darkice installed on it.  This provides a simple plug and play solution.  you simply turn on the Pi, plug it into the audio source and it starts streaming.  I use Streamer Radio to monitor the levels.

Will add more to this post soon.

Elvis has landed!

posted 17 Sep 2015, 00:24 by Ben Edwards

for the last few years I have been editing a documentary about the Elvis Porthcawl Festival.  We have just picture locked.  Just did a couple of days with Exec Editor Mark Atkins and we re-structured first 20 minuets and it is looking great.  Really motoring along and looking great.  Watch this space.

funkybackup - Mac Timemachine type backup for Linux

posted 26 Aug 2015, 07:53 by Ben Edwards   [ updated 6 Jun 2016, 10:25 by Ben Edwards ]

I am punting this blog post and the script up so people can benefit from it and to get feedback.  It comes with absolutely no greentree and is currently being developed.  It seems to work for me  and will be used shortly in a small charity but should be considered a alpha version.  Just need to say that as I am giving it away and not legally or morally responsible for its use. all feedback gladly received.  I also need I know to add more annotation to the code.

The latest version of the scripts are available through GitHub, the ones below are not up to date and are for illustration purposed only.

funkybackup is a set of Linux scripts that give you a  Mac Timemaching style backup i.e.:
  • Backup every hour and keep for a day
  • Backup every day and keep for a month
  • Backup every month and keep for a year
  • Backup every year
  • Is very efficient as (incremental backups):
    • Only hold each version of a file once (using the minimum amount of disk space)
    • Only copies files that have changes (using minimum resources, disk, CPU and network (if copying over net) )
  • Is extremely easy for users to restore

It does not have, or need, a funky GUI as it creates a directory structure that is easy for the user to understand. 
Each backup has a directory and there is also a 'current' directory for the latest backup. 

In a way it is actually more flexible than Timemachine as in addition to this you can backup as often as you like (i.e. every 10 minutes).  Obviously it does depend of the amount on data you are backing up, how often it changes and the speed of your connection (you can backup locally or remotely over a network or the Internet). 

The latest versions of the scripts are at


OK, lets dive in and go through the scripts to show you how it works. 

Configuration (vars.bash).

This script is where you setup what you want to backup and where, it has the following variables:

  • backup_name - chose a name for your backup
  • script_home - where the funkybackup scripts live
  • what_to_backup - path to what you want to backup
  • path_to_store_backups - path to the directory you want to store backups in

Frequent Backup (backup.bash).

This script is run as often as you like and each time it runs it creates a backup directory. 

The directories are names as such:

backupname_sequence_F_day_date_HHMM (e.g.'ben_1440601201_F_Wed_26Aug2015_1600'):

  • backupname - the name you assign to the backup (I chose ben as it is my home directory).
  • sequence - This is so when you look at the directories in a file browser they can easily be ordered so the most recent is at the top.  It actually uses Julian seconds (seconds since 1 January 1, 4713 BC).
  • day - The day using 3 characters to make it easy for users to find the backup they want
  • date - The data is a format easy for people to read
  • HHMM - time of the backup

The _F_ is to show this is a frequent backup (i.e. more frequent than an hour).  The scripts use this to help then delete old backups.  The folowing is also used in this position

  • _F_ - Frequent Sub houre backups
  • _H_ - hourly backups
  • _M_ - monthly backups
  • _Y_ - Yearly backups

The script uses the Linux utility rsync to do the actual work.  The script currently backs up over the computers file-system (i.e. it uses directory structures).  This mean that it can back up onto a on or connected to the computer, a local network mount  or NAS (mounted locally).  It will also work through a VPN.  rsync also sports ssh transfers.    Doing this would require some slight changes to this script only and may be added to the scripts later.

As well as doing the frequent backups the script also creates a symbolic link to the latest backup (ben_9999999999_current).

Create Hourly, Daily and Yearly Backups (backup_close_period.bash)

Now this is where the magic happens.  This scripts does two things.  It renames the Frequent backups (so they become Hourly, Daily, Monthly or Yearly Backups) and deletes old backups.  It is called with a parameter which indicates the type of backup you are doing:

  • H - Hourly  backups, the script is called with this parameter at the end of each hour.
  • D - Daily  backups, the script is called with this parameter at the end of each day.
  • M - Monthly  backups, the script is called with this parameter at the end of each month.
  • Y - Yearly  backups, the script is called with this parameter at the end of each year.

Here is the code:

So that is basically it it. This all called from a cronjob, mine looks like this:

Although the scripts are deigned to be run at the end of each period if they do not it does not really cause any problems as it is fairly robust in this respect.  If they are run at the wrong time your backups will still have the correct date/time.  The worst that can happen is the period backups may not be at the end of the period or  you may end up with more than on for a period.  however as the date/times and sequences are correct this is no a real problem. 

The scripts below are slightly updated version of the ones above and I have provided a updated cron and stub sxripts to run from cron so stderr goes into the scripts.

Any feedback, questions please get in touch.

Notes from a Editor to Camera People

posted 17 Jul 2015, 07:18 by Ben Edwards   [ updated 20 Jul 2015, 02:26 ]

I was recently asked for feedback from a Cameraman from and editors perspective for a job I was editing.  I have also asked other editors for things that help in the edit that camera people can do.  Here are some notes.  Following there should get you better footage and help you get hired again/build a reputation.

This post is a work in progress.

A general point is that if you are working with a director it is your joint responsibility IMHO to get cutaways/general views (GVs).  You should always check with the director if you have not been asked for them/got them.  Not having good/appropriate GVs is the main reasons that edits are difficult and time consuming.

Try to think in terms of sequences, this is why it is important for you to know the story that is being told.  What is the beginning (often a wide establishing shot).  What details shots, GVs, actuatiy shots (shots of people doing stuff) will be useful as cutaways during interviews.  Is there something that can be used as an end shot.

This is also important for cutaways.  Short sequences of cutaways work well.  Just a single cutaway to cover a curt normally looks contrived.

The maybe not obvious but very useful.
  • If recording sound film 20-30 seconds in each location when no one is talking (if possible), ideally a minute.  This 'wildtrack' or 'room tone' is extremely useful when editing to allow the interview to breath (i.e. adding short gaps) or under photos or general non interview footage.  This can be combined with shooting a 'portrait' of the contributors that are sometimes useful.
  • This also applies when getting GVs/cutaways.  Always have the microphone on and record sound (be good if audio levels are set but for this auto levels is often OK), 
  • Non sync shots of interview are useful (shots without the mouth in shot).  Be creative.  Detail shots of eyes, wide shots from interesting angles etc.  You can just get the contributes to generally chat after interview (with director) as idealy you don't want to do this during the actual interview.
  • If you are shooting with a DSLR/steeped aperture photo lens changing the aperture during an interview makes the exposure jump and is not usable.  A decent Variable Neutral Density filter solves this problem but don't use a cheap one (is softens focus and introduces colour cast).  LCW ones are great and not expensive.
  • Get an establishing shot of the exterior of the building/where the action (i.e. wide shot) and interview is happening.
  • interview POV (point of view) shots are useful (shot in the direction contributor is looking).
  • This can be tricky (and is a joint responsibility between you band director) but listen to interview and make a list of pick up shots you need (shots of stuff they are referring to).  Generally trying to get these (if they are close) by pointing the camera at them during the interview is a bad idea as you may miss crucial facial expression.
  • Coverage is key.  Get lots of cutaways and each cutaway should be at at least 2 different shot size from same direction. Not having cutaways is the thing that makes and edit difficult.

Obvious to most people but mentioning for the not so experienced

  • Use a tripod whenever possible for interviews and static general shots.  Does not have to be a heavy or expensive tripod (if you are travelling light) for static locked off stuff.  If not shoot slightly wide (i.e. 5-10%) so the shots can be stabilised in the editing software and framing maintained.
  • If you are hand holding (especially with heavy kit) there is a tendency to point the camera down (to rest your arms) as soon as contributor has finished speaking.  Wait at least 3 seconds (preferably 5).  You may get useful facial expressions and having a few seconds after talking is very useful (if not essential) for pacing in edit.
  • Re-framing when possible can be very useful.  Either do it quickly when there is an opportunity or slowly if there is not (slow zooming can be used in vision).  Bigger shot sizes as interview gets more intense are good but generally changing shot size during interview will make it easier to add cuts without using cutaways.
  • If you are not working with a sound recordist get away from where people are talking and record general wildtrack if you have time.  This can be combines with getting very wide shots but does not even need a useful image.
  • Getting nod shots/listening shots of interviewer and interviewee is useful (with just them in shot from same angle). Can be very useful.
  • Tuck microphone cable inside clothing.
  • Other details shots (hands/stuff they are talking about) is useful.  Avoid the groin! believe me I haver see this actually used (badly) in broadcast.
  • General shots with people in them are very useful, again ideally on a tripod.

Converting DCPs to MP4 (Making MP4 from DCP) BAT file

posted 2 May 2015, 16:55 by Ben Edwards   [ updated 2 May 2015, 17:15 ]

It is possible to convert unencrypted DCPs to H.264 MP4 (or other types of video files).  This guide is for windows.

To do this you first need to run cmd.exe.  You will be in your users home directory (e.g. c:\Users to start a windows shell). When started you need to create some directories

mkdir work
cd work
mkdir mov
cd mod
mkdir jpg

You then need to create a file called dcp2mp4.bat in the work directory you just created wit hthe following content.

del mov\sound.wav
del mov\movie.mp4
del /Q mov\jpg\*.*

@echo off

echo video file = %1
echo audio file = %2
echo FPS        = %3


ffmpeg -lowres 0 -i %1 -q:v 2 mov\jpg\/image%%06d.jpg
ffmpeg -i %2 -y mov/sound.wav
ffmpeg -r %3 -i mov/jpg/image%%06d.jpg -i mov/sound.wav -ac 2 -ab 256k -crf 18 -y mov/movie.mp4

You also need to put ffmpeg.exe in this directory.  It is downloaded from You need to
download the 'static' version.  It consists of 7z archive  which has 'bin' directory that had the exe.

To convert the DCP from the work directory run dcp2mp4.bat with the following command line paramaters:
  1. Full path of the
  2. Full path to
  3. Frames Per Second
The first two are in the DCP file system.  If you drag and drop them from file manager to the command line it will put add the path and file to the command line.

Beginners guide to Digital Cinema Packages (DCP)

posted 17 Nov 2014, 04:54 by Ben Edwards   [ updated 14 May 2015, 15:59 ]

DCPs are how Digital Cinema Servers play films. a DCP is the digital equivalent of a 35mm film print. They are actually a directory/folder with a number of files in them. They are generally loaded onto the server (a process called ingesting) by plugging in a Hard Drive (USB2 or a faster CRU drive). 

I offer a very affordable Digital Cinema Package (DCP) Mastering/Creation service as it is very time consuming and prone to errors (DCP problems are the main reasons film festivals have problems playing films).  If you want to create your own DCP-o-Matic is a great free piece of software but allow yourself a lot of time (several days) and find a cinema you can test your DCP in.

The DCP actually contained a JPEG 2000 for each frame and a uncompressed WAV file for each audio channel.  JPEG 2000 holds a better quality image than standard JPEG but is very processor intensive to create.  Even on a fairly powerful computer (Quad core 3Ghz) it can take over 15 hours to create the 70 minute DCP.  DCPs contain a lot of data and gives a extremely high quality image.  A typical feature length film is over 150 gigabytes.  There is a quality setting in a lot of the software.  a 'bandwidth' of 50 gives quality similar to blu-ray and a 175 is roughly what feature films use.  It is no quicker to produce a DCP of a lower quality but the files are smaller (the bandwidth is Mbps so a 175 bandwidth gives a DCP more that 3 times larger).  50 does have the advantage that a feature length film can be distributed on a large memory stick.


To create a DCP you start with a video file (either with the audio tracks included or separate audio files or files).  Below the various video and audio formats are discussed.

DCP creation software can generally accept a variety of formats.  The format you should use depends on the source material the film was shot on.  For very high quality source (shot on Red or Arri Alexa) it is worth starting with 10 bit uncompressed 'YUV' video.  For other top end cameras (including Canon C300) prores 422 HQ or Avid DNxHD 180 are appropriate.  It is possible (but not ideal) to use H.264 (.mp4) but you should use a very high bitrate.  

Again DCP software can generally accept most popular audio formats but as they use the below format it is a good idea to start with it:

Format: Waveform Audio (WAV)
Audio codec: Uncompressed
Sample Rate: 48000 Hz
Channels: stereo (or 5.1, in which case a file for each channel can be provided)
Sample size: 24 bit

It is best to supply a audio files mixed to -12 Db or even a little lower.  If the audio level is too high you will get pooping (where the audio breaks up and crackles).  The Dolby audio decoders tend to have a 'fader' level ranging from 0-10.  If your mix is too low (even by a few Db) it will not be possible to play loud enough.  It can be tricky to get it right as -18 will probably give you a far too low level even at a fader level of 10.  If your mix does not peek between -12 and -13 some DCP authoring software can adjust the level but you need to know accurately what Db the mix peeks at.

The colourspace refers to how many colours (and what colours) are used for the video.  Computer monitors normal use sRGB but broadcast monitors use Rec.709 (or even P2 for high end cinema).   Gamma refers to the brightness of the image (this is a oversimplification as it uses curves but it gives the general idea).  If set up properly a Gamma of 2.2 is generally used for computer monitors and Rec.709 also often also uses 2.2.  Digital Cinema uses Rec.709 but has a Gamma of 2.6. The DCP creation software will convert to Rec.709/2.6 but it is important to know what the source material is so the software can be set up.  If you made the video yourself on a computer monitor sRGB/2.2 is best to use.  If the video was properly graded the person doing the grading should be able to tell you.

24 is the best framerate for Digital Cinema but 25 is also an option (see Framerate section of Delivery Options Below).  The DCP software should be able to do frame rate conversion for you and this should work well. This is done a lot for broadcast TV (i.e. most films are converted from 24 to 25fps) and you will not notice.  Ideally you should shoot in the same framerate as you edit and create the DCP in but simple conversion is very rarely noticeable (and only for films with a lot of fast movement such as action films).   The best option is to export the video file in the framerate you want the DCP to be so you can view the film at the new framerate and make sure there are no issues.

Lastly if different files are delivered for video and audio they must be exactly the same length (i.e. if they are lain down in a editing system they should be the exactly the same length).  It is a lot safer to start with a single file with audio and video. If the sound mix was done in a separate program than the video was edited it is easy to accidentally to get slightly different length files (partly as video works in frames and audio in time).


There are two types of DCP, the original interop and a newer SMPTE.  interop only suportes 24fps but only newer DCP servers support SMPTE (which can support other framerates such as 25/30).

What type of DCP you create will depend on where you are distributing it and the framerate of your edit. If it is for a specific case you should ask them what server they use and if it supports 25fps (if your source is 25)  and create a SMPTE.  24fps Interlop is the best if you are delivering to multiple unknown venues but if your source material is 25fps SMPTE 25fps is probably the best option if you can confirm the venue support it. It is possible to put two versions on the same drive so for 25fps material a 25fps SMPTE and a 24fps Interlop is a good idea.  It will mean 2 DCPs need to be created so it may cost twice as much as it takes doubled the processing time. 

It is possible to have encrypted DCPs but these will require a key to be sent to each venue which unlocks the DCP for a specified number of days (The process also requires the venues to send the ‘certificate’ for their server to you).   There will geenraly be a cost for creating eatch certificate (£10-£20).

A much simpler option is to not encrypt the DCP and this is probably the best option unless you are doing a full cinema release. Some independent cinema releases are distributed uncompressed as it is very difficult to turn them into a format that can be played without a full digital cinema setup (costing over £20,00).  Some film festivals will only accept uncompressed DCPs.

There are a number of options here:
  • USB stick - This is best for short films
  • Portable USB Drive - This is a good budget option for longer films.  Portable (2.5") drives are populer as they are smaller so cheaper to post.
  • CRU Drives - These drives allow material to be ingested into the server quickly but are more expensive.
As a side note all DCP servers can read Linux formates drives  (although some can read Windows NFS drives).  These have to be specially formatted to a specific Linux type.  USB sticks are generality windows formatted (vFAT/FAT32) as should be able to be read on all servers.

Formatting Linux drives requires running Linux and is covered half way down

Cutting Scenes for Documentary

posted 14 Nov 2013, 09:27 by Ben Edwards   [ updated 15 Nov 2013, 07:03 ]

There are no rules, just guidelines, the below is a approach I have assembled from talking and working with some very experienced editors (special thanks to Mark Atkins who has been very generous with his time). The first thing that you need to do is decide what the purpose of the scene is (from a story standpoint). This is to enable you to decide what to include. Generally a good strategy is to cut sync first, unless you are dealing with actuality (will be dealt with elsewhere). I should say straight off the bat that with experience it may not be necessary to go through all off this process but for difficult scenes it may still be useful. A very experiences editor may just look through the rushes and edit in their head, grabbing what they know they will need.

The purpose of the scene is fundamental in deciding what to include. One you know this, you are asking two questions. Firstly, does it move the story forwards (in terms of the purpose of the scene) and secondly, does it do it with an element of emotion. I am not talking emotional breakdown or tears here, I am just saying does it has something of the person in it. This is why first hand testimonial by people who were 'actually there', works and someone simply expressing the views of others or recounting something they saw on TV, generally does not (unless it was something with an emotional element like seeing the Twin Towers collapse on television). At this point we are just collecting sync around the purpose of the scene (you could say you are collecting sync around 'what the scene is about' but there must be purpose it in, it must be something that can move the story forward). I personally don’t worry too much about how these will fit together at this stage, I am just collecting good sync. Cut out ALL stuff where people are going off topic and repeating themselves, be brutal, then be more brutal. When people repeat themselves you generally need the most concise version of what they are saying (unless longer version have a greater emotional content). If there are a couple of times when they say the same thing concisely (and with an emotional element) keep both, you can decide later which works better in the cut.

The second thing to do is decide the IN (and OUT) points. The expression' turn up late and leave early comes to mind here. By choosing the most concise telling, you may have already done this but you are looking for stuff with punch. 'It was a bad day, this was the worst day of my life', you can loose the first bit. Starting with 'this was the worst day of my life' has more emotional punch and when you remove the first bit you do not lose any meaning. If it was 'the worst day of my life' the fact it was 'a bad day' goes without saying. What we are doing is stripping stuff down to its core, generally the shorter and more concise the better. The exception is a very emotional piece of sync, where you want to stay with the character, if there is enough emotion we can should not be brutal, let it run.

There may be a few possible IN points and at this point you do not need to decide. Remove the footage before the first and mark the others. Generally it is obvious and there is only one. By cutting out waffle and repetition you will probably already end up with a number of shortish clips each with an obvious IN.

You should also mark the out points. Again you are looking for something with punch.

'What some Elvis impersonators do not realise is that the audience is affected by two things, the image of Elvis and their performance, so they get a bigger reaction than they normally would, even if they are crap, most performers realise this but you will see the ones who don't'.

Ending with 'even though they are crap', is punchy. For OUTs it is best to mark them rather than chop off the end as you may need the the rest to make the scene flow.

The really important OUT is the one that ends the scene. You should keep an eye out for things that are good OUTs and have enough punch to carry audience over to next scene. Something that will get the audience thinking for a moment while we get into the next scene. A scene can be seen as a small story with a beginning middle and end. At the end there is often a bit of a pause (in the sync, with something visual to join the scenes). So 'Arrive Late' mean cut straight to the chase, start with a punch rather than the waffle before. 'Leave Early' means when you have made your point get out of there. A scene should have one purpose and point.

Putting the all sync into a single sequence can work well (or if it is a difficult scene and there is a lot a sequence for each character). Although I said don’t worry about the order of the sync, and making it flow, this does not mean that when putting it into a sequence you can't try to place stuff in what seems like a logical order. Just don’t spend too much time stressing over it.

Now for the fun bit, making all the sync into a coherent whole. A very good approach can be to say what needs to be said using a number of characters bouncing off each other (although a scene with a single character can work) . You then get a number of voices telling the same story. If they are agreeing this will give what they are saying more power as you are getting several people to say the same thing, but you don’t want to get people to simply repeat each other (generally unless is it a very powerful point where having several people saying it is necessary).

This way you can be as brutal as you like and only start with what is great. If in doubt throw it out is a term often used, but the reality is harsher. If you have even the slightest bit of doubt that something should go, either because it is slightly off topic, a bit rambling/preparative or simply does not have enough emotional content it must go. This is what being brutal means. Being brutal is great but it may remove short pieces of sync that are needed to make the scene coherent/flow. A strategy here is to keep a sequence with the raw sync and bring back the minimum needed to make things work.

The weaving together sync can be illustrated by an example.

C1 protester, C2 local person, C3 journalist

C1 “police removed our placards. After that things got a little bit heated and before we had time to calm down we had half a dozen riot vans turn up”

C2 “on Thursday I was in a local cafe prying and went outside and saw loads of vehicles, about six ambulances and then loads of police vans turned up and we had no idea what was going on”

C3 “the police had information that they considered to be reliable that someone had a petrol bomb...”.

Intercutting has a number of advantages. Firstly it works visually, you can't just chop a bit of an interview out and continue, since it jars. Secondly it helps keep audience attention, every-time you switch it provides a little jolt of energy. Thirdly it adds credibility; in this case there are three different types of people all telling the same story. This can be done where people are not agreeing, which creates an on-screen argument (possibility between people who have never met) or can be cut for humour. Maybe a number of people who have extremely different and idiotic views on something. Another thing that can work well is getting people to complete each others sentences, cutting on and, but or even or works well here.

The main thing you need to ensure is you have the rhythm of speech correct, close your eyes so you don’t get distracted by the visual side of things. Does it sound natural, are the pauses correct? This does take some practice and experience but you need to be able to do this well.

As well as intercutting there are some other ways of dealing with cuts (in the same character where it jars). The first is reframing. If the framing is significantly different (medium shot to close up) this can work. You can also exaggerate this (or if you have high enough resolution footage create it from scratch) by pushing in (magnifying clip enough to create a different shot size).

The second is cutting away and showing something else visual. I do not like the use of what has been refereed to as cutaways, a single shot to join an edit. Really bad examples of this (for me) is a shot of hands or the interviewer nodding (a nod shot). What I prefer is a short visual montage (of at least two shots, preferably more) that illustrates what is being said and tell the audience more, rather than just have a shots of what is being talked about. For the above example a sequence of shots of riot vans turning up and people reacting would work.

You also need to ensure is it is very simple and easy to follow. I once interviewed a editor and as he left he said 'The one thing I have learned is it can never be too simple' and this is very true. Remember people are seeing what you edit for the first time in real time. The challenge here is to put yourself in the audiences’ position. Trust your instincts, if anything seems not to be extremely simple it is too complex. This is not dumbing down, its it simply not confusing the audience. Ask yourself “would your Gran understand this” (no offence meant to you Gran, what it means is will everybody who may be watching understand). This is very difficult and it involves concentrations hard on what is said and actively assessing complexity.

Documentary, feature and even factual TV are all about portraying emotion, not delivering information. We are trying to get people excited about the world, emotionally engaged and entertaining them, not give them information. Books and Radio are much better at this. Even with campaign/activist video this is true. In this case you are trying to get people excited, or angry, enough to want to find out more, and they can then head to the internet, print or radio for more information.

Another way of doing this is with a sting, for example a boxer hitting someone with audio, but this must be sufficiently stylistic. White flashes can also work but generally when the contributor is getting excited and animated (2 frames of white works well). With this type of method the only limit is your imagination but make sure it is appropriate to the look and feel of the piece. Lastly don’t forget the power of jump cuts. For example if the character in in conflict with himself and having an on screen debate with himself this can add a nice edginess.

Once you have got the first cut refinement is an iterative process. Go through the sync and remove anything that can be removed without destroying the cohesiveness. If you can remove it and it still makes sense it generally should go (again the exceptions are to do with emotional power, you don’t want to remove this). Generally as you remove the unnecessary stuff, things become easier to understand. This is in fact he same technique to use when editing the written word, remove all that is unnecessary. You can also tighten up what is being said, making people sound more articulate. Removing pauses, ums etc. can also be done. This is all a matter of personal judgement and choice and does require the character not be in vision for the cuts (you need more montages to overlay).

This brings us to scene transitions. Again there are no rules, just things that tend to work. From a technical point of view, overlapping audio will smooth the transition, overhang the incoming and outgoing audio with a fade in/out can work well. We are talking about overlapping room tone/wildtrack here, you don’t generally overlap sync from one scene to another, although it can work. Overlapping music can also work well, either continuing the music from the end of one scene into the next or bringing music in from the next scene in a little early. You often want to show something visual (without sync) between scenes, a short montage maybe, or the director walking to a contributors house, something to create a breathing space between scenes.

It should be noted that breathing space (to get the pace correct) is also important within a scene. You dont want a wall of dialog. Cutting in visual elements, performance, action or even actuality all help. It is also not necessary to see the contributor in vision all the time. You could, for example, start with them in vision, bring in a performer (with their audio very low) then when the contributor has made a point, up the audio, have a bit of performance, then back to the contributor in vision for the next point. Look at the rhythm of what is being said and find good points to stop/start the sync. You should be weaving the elements together whilst varying your cutting. If the sync you have is placed just after the contributor is asked a question, you could have them in vision listening (for a short while) while the previous contributor finishes talking. This can tie things together nicely, giving the feel the contributors are actually listening to each other.

Lastly you have to decide if you want the interviewer's questions in; this can be very useful but is ultimately a stylistic point. One trick here is to edit the questions to make them more concise, as the contributor is in vision you can edit the interviewers audio as much as you like, giving a very clear question (you can also re-record the questions but this can be tricky to get right so should be avoided if possible).

Best Lenses for DSLR Video (Parfocus Lenses)

posted 5 Dec 2012, 09:42 by Ben Edwards   [ updated 7 Dec 2012, 09:55 ]

Years ago was taught how to focus when shooting video, I have come across many people who also use this method and it is generally accepted as THE way to focus.  You choose where you want to focus (for a person it is generally the eyes), you zoom in to maximum and you focus. Then you zoom out and frame the shot.  This is because as you zoom in the depth of field becomes shallower (smaller) and focusing becomes less forgiving.  This means if you are focused when zoomed in you will be focused through the hole zoom range.

All great, accept for DSLR (stills) lenses this does not work.  This is because for it to work the lenses must hold the focus throughout the whole zoom lenses and for most stills lenses this is not the case.  Lenses which maintain focus throughout the zoom range are called parfocul lenses.  Professional video lenses are parfocul. Most of these need to be set up through a process called back focusing to calibrate the parfocus.   Cameras such as the Sony Z1 are parfocus but rather than doing this mechanically/optically (and using back focus) cheat the system by having a servo motor in the lens that adjusts to focus as yo zoom.  If this is officially parfocus I don't know (or care much) but works.  Well works most of the time, The reason I know about the servo is that my Z1 went wrong and the servo had to be replaces (luckily it was under guarantee but this would be very expensive) so there is a downside the this phudo-parfocus, i.e. it can go wrong.

So that the background, the real question is which lenses are parfocus, I use canon so will concentrate of Canon fit lenses. 

It should be noted that unless all your work is on a tripod for all lenses (apart from wide angle) you need image stabilization (IS) so I will mark these bold.

It should also be noted that as well as parfocal the lenses should also be consent aperture (i.e not have a range like f/4-5/6) as this means that the exposure will change as you zoom, whit will make the video unusable).

Canon Brand Lenses

It should be noted that Canon does not officially state that any of there lenses are parfocus, however people have found that the following are.

Canon Parfocal (EF)

EF 17-35mm f/2.8L USM *
EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM
EF 17-40mm f/4L USM
EF 20-35mm f/2.8L *
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM
EF 24-105 f/4L IS *
EF 28-70mm f/2.8L USM *
EF 28-80mm f/2.8-4L USM  *
EF 50-200mm f/3.5-4.5 USM *
EF 50-200mm f/3.5-4.5 *
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM
EF 70-200mm f/4L USM
EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM
EF 70-210mm f/4 *
EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM
EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM
EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III
EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 II USM *
EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 II *
EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 USM *
EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 *
EF 80-200mm f/2.8L *
EF 90-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM
EF 90-300mm f/4.5-5.6
EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM
EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM
EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III
EF 90-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM
EF 90-300mm f/4.5-5.6 
EF 100-300mm f/5.6L *
EF 100-300mm f/5.6 *

* = discontinued

EF-S (close to parfocal)

EF-S 17-55/2.8 IS USM
EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM

No parfocal, or even close

EF 35-350mm F3.5-5.6 L USM
EF 100-400mm F4.5-5.6L IS USM


Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM FLD

Olympus (need EOS Adapter)

Olympus Zuiko 35-70 F3.6
Olympus Zuiko 35-70 F4

Olimpus Zuiko Zoom 75-150mm F/4


11-17 ??

Please Contat Me  with any relevant information so I can keep this page up to date.


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