First off, let me send a big thanks to Tom for giving me a place to share with you all!  I plan on using this space to parcel out my experiences in the broadcast industry as an engineer in ways that may be helpful and hopefully sometimes amusing to others.  While Tom is well known for giving his reviews of field equipment, I hope to offer opinions and insight into equipment that can be found in high-end edit suites, HD control rooms and TV Studios.  I am aware that most people don’t have much use for tips on building a new HD control room from scratch, but if I can find an angle that makes it broadly appealing you can count on reading about it here.  However, I’m willing to bet that we can get a good discussion going regarding the best capture boards, affordable scopes, good audio mixers, and proper video monitor calibration for your post-production suite that may double as your den or dorm room.

I’m also an amateur/hobbyist photographer and dslr filmmaker.  I’ve been getting sucked deeper into this world slowly over the past two years.  Below you can see a photo I took of the sun setting behind a street lamp in Paris. The rest of this post will be about a project I have on the fire now.


I’m currently in the early stages of editing my first major dslr video effort.  It’s a music video for my brother’s rock band that I shot the other night almost completely on a whim.  There was a zero dollar budget and there were zero storyboards.  I had a few ideas in mind but I’d never even really seen the location where we shot before I got in there.  I was thinking about sharing the process as I go through it for feedback from you and answer questions that you may have about anything that I may have done well (which is really wishful thinking!).  Also, as an engineer I’ve learned a lot about how to use all sorts of production equipment.  In fact, I can operate just about every piece of equipment at our station.  But that doesn’t mean I’m particularly graceful using any of it.  What I’m trying to say is that I know how to use Final Cut Pro technically speaking but that I haven’t actually had to edit anything well since I was at Emerson.  Which is to say, I’m open to constructive criticism and feedback regarding this video.  I’m also considering posting all of the footage online and having some sort of collaborative video project.  See how different people approach the same footage.  I don’t know.  Could be cool though.

Now on to the background and details of the project.

I shot it mostly handheld using a 5Dmk2, 50mm lens at ƒ1.8 to create a shallow DOF.  There was virtually no light in the room.  Three distant clip lamps like you would find in a workshop covered in sawdust.  Two of them had what may have been around 20-watt colored bulbs in them.  One was red, one was blue.  The third had a lamp that, by comparison to the others, seemed like a Arri 650k.  In reality it was just a clip-style desk lamp but this thing was like looking at the sun so I bounced it backwards off a red sound baffle they had in the studio which only added to the already finely calibrated light temperature in that room!

The 5Dmk2 performed admirably.  For the most part I kept it at 3200 ISO which kept the noise to a minimum.  I also has a T2i there getting some coverage shots with a zoom lens set at ƒ2.8 and 3200 ISO.  The T2i stuff came out better than I had expected.  Yeah, it’s dark and slightly grainier than the 5D footage but it’s passable especially for a gritty music video!  I was expecting a much larger discrepancy between the two, which is a pretty nice feather in the cap for the T2i.

Here you can see a few test shots from the video.  I’ve already added some filters in FCP to give the creepy blue effect but you can at least see what footage shot with almost no light looks like! (note: there is no audio in this video on purpose)