Manual white balance on the Panasonic HMC41E

OK, I went along to a local film club last week with my Panasonic HMC41E and they were able to give me some steer on the white balance settings, but still couldn’t work out how the camera could be asked to manually check the white balance.

A YouTube video today showed me how, very exciting!

If you press the white balance button on the Panasonic HMC41E, it toggles between various settings:

ATB – P3.2K – for indoor shooting

ATB – P5.6k – for outdoor shooting

ATW – Auto-tracking white balance (changes as the light in your shot does. This is annoying if you are shooting a static target, but the lights in the shot keep changing as they would if there were car traffic lights going past, or the subject was in front of a TV. The ATW will keep trying to compensate, and make the image brighter and darker!

ATW Lock – This is what I was using until now. This basically locks the white balance that the camera decides upon, so the scenario above can’t happen.

However, if you press and hold the White Balance button for a few seconds, the camera will take a reading of whatever you are pointing at (white card ideally) and then set the white balance accordingly. Handy if the scene changes or you are moving the camera a lot. Simply press and hold everytime you move the camera, and it will re-calibrate.

First film: The Hillsborough Disaster

I have decided that the first proper film that I will produce will be a short documentary about the Hillsborough disaster, that claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans and deeply affected thousands more.

Shooting starts in Liverpool on the weekend of 27th and 28th November 2010.

My aim is to deliver the facts that have dribbled out of the media for 22 years, to tell the real story of that day. Many headline readers will still believe the story told at the time that placed the blame on the fans. The facts however tell a very different story.

If anybody feels that they could, and would like to add something to this project, please email me at mike_nicholson@hotmail.co.uk

My first short film

I have decided to take the plunge and start work on my first short film. I have a two story ideas which I hope are interesting, and as soon as I have decided which one to go for I am going to start writing the script.

This week I bought two books. The first was Get Started in Short Filmmaking by Chris Patmore, and so far that has been really interesting. I also bought Filmaking for Dummies, whcih I haven’t started reading yet.

If there are any budding sound or light experts, or indeed actors out there who would like to be involved, please do let me know. There will be no money involved I’m afriad, so your efforts will have to be a labour of love. :)

More on the progress of this film to follow …

All at sea

I took the kids for a day trip to Brighton this week, and took along my camera for the ride. As soon as I arrived I realised that I had made the right decision, as the sea was really choppy and the thought of capturing waves crashing to the shore as more than a little appealing.

I took what I thought were some good shots, and as soon as I arrived back home I had the SDHD plugged into my PC quicker than you could say ‘like an excited a kid on Christmas morning’ in anticipation of seeing some nice seascapes. However, that’s when the Halloween gremlins took over!

There was a static, electric shock type of a sound across all off the video! It was very windy as you might expect on a beach in October, so I wasn’t expecting to be able to use the audio anyway as I don’t yet have audio recording equipment that can handle the wind, but the other problem with this screeching sound is that it seemed to make the images stutter at the same time as if the video were buffering.

I was worried. Had I broken my camera? I was thinking that maybe salt from the sea air had infiltrated the camera. There was definitely a film of salt residue on the lens, which was a slight concern in itself, so maybe the salt had managed to work its way deeper into the camera?

I went to bed with a worried, heavy heart that night having resolved to spend the next day working out what has gone wrong.

Bizarrely, when I rose the next morning the clips played back just fine. Well, the wind was still overbearing of course, but at least the static shock was gone. :)

All’s well that ends well I suppose. I have put it down to being a PC issue perhaps, or a helpful chap on videoformums.co.uk suggested that perhaps the card had attracted moisture, and then dried out overnight.

What I learnt:

Buy a UV filter to protect my lens in future

I need to work out an audio solution that will allow me to film outdoors, without picking up all the wind noise. I tried fashioning a faux fur cover for the mic, but it wasn’t very successful.

 

Sony Vegas baby!

Well, since I started on this road I have been editing on a Mac and with iMovie. Until this weekend, it is all I have known, but after downloading a trial version of Sony Vegas  Movie Studio 10 Platinum I don’t think I will be going back in a hurry.

This is a re-edit of a previous job:

The BIG improvements for me were as follows:

1. The Sony Vaio laptop and Sony Vegas software allowed me to import AVCHD files directly in – with my Apple set up I had to import, re-wrap and then pull them into iMovie which took an age longer than the drag and drop solution I have now!

2. When exporting a final job, Sony Vegas gives you the option to uplaod to Youtube directly, and on the two occasions I have used that option so far it has done a great job of it!

3. It’s so much quicker to add Fx and transitions!

4. Sony have embeeded many tutorials within the application, which show you how to do things, and where certain things are, which is handy!

The only downside, is the preview window looks poor quality and it occasionally lags when playing back a job, but overal I am very happy to have found a quicker way to work with my videos moving forward.

What I have learned today about my Panasonic HMC41e

I have learnt what the different shooting settings are on my Panasonic HMC41e camcorder are for, with considerable help from Tim on http://www.videoforums.co.uk/

It would appear that the settings are as follows:

PH Mode = recording at around 21-25 Mbps

HA Mode = recording at around 17 Mbps

HG Mode = recording at around 13 Mbps

HE Mode = recording at around 6 Mbps

So, we know that the ‘I’ is for interlaced and ‘p’ is for progressive. I have also leant that interlaced is better for broadcast TV and progressive is better for the internet (this is another post all on its own)

Smaller file sizes can be achieved by filming at a lower Mbps, but the camera will capure less information so the picture quality may suffer. It is therfore a trade-off between having smaller files or a lesser quality, or larger files of a higher quality.

Question: Does anybody know what the optimum Mbps setting is for digital videos?

Iddylic Ewell Court

My latest video was shot while walking through Ewell Court with the kids. Hopefully it captures some of the beauty Ewell Court offers her visitors.

The start of an amazing journey

I only bought my first camcorder, a Panasonic AG-HMC41E, around six months ago and I’m already I’m in love with making videos.

My heavens though, there is so much to learn! I am using iMovie HD to edit, and housing most of my videos on YouTube. Even the task of exporting from iMovie HD and uploading to YouTube seems to achieve different results every time I try even if I think I am using exactly the same settings.

My aim is to one day write, direct and film a short film or ten. In the meantime I am building up my experience little by little, and this blog will be a record of that progress.

If you can help, or have comments, tips or advice as we go I would be eternally grateful if you could post that wisdom in a comments box or email me at mike_nicholson@hotmail.co.uk

To kick off this blog, here is the first ever video I put together: