PXW Z90 card not readable!! What to do…

So there you are halfway through a job and you think to yourself, hmm battery is low – think I’ll change it. Shut down camera – take off battery and put on fresh battery – simple.

Except when you power up the camera you get a BIG message saying card not readable and images may not play as expected – recover card? Or something like that. I was slightly freaked out at the time so can’t remember the exact phrase – but it’s one you never want to see on your screen halfway through a job.

This was me yesterday. I was shooting a small conference event. First mistake was I didn’t check camera well enough beforehand and I still had it set on relay record. That was because the last job I had it set that way to reduce the amount of cards I needed to use. I only realised this about 20 minutes into the day and thought – ‘it’ll be OK’. I very rarely only shoot on one card as I always like to be backing up while I’m shooting.

The morning went well – got the most important speaker covered. Speaker change-over came and there was a slight delay in getting the new speaker up and running (usual laptop issue!). Hey, change batteries I thought! That’s when it happened.

Luckily I had a Canon 5D3 with me and quickly set it on a tripod and got back to the Sony.

Now the only issue I have with the Sony is that I don’t particularly like the menu system. I much prefer the menu on my old Canon XF100.

So I got this message and thought OK I’ll recover the card. But in my haste I didn’t read the menu correctly.  I could blame Sony’s menu but I won’t as I know it was because this was the first time it had happened to me and I was unsure of what I was doing. I got a blinking card icon and thought – OK its doing something and waited – meanwhile the speaker was up and running!!

After a few minutes I realised something was wrong and went through the process again. This time I did it correctly and got a message saying something like “recovering card estimated time 1 min 43 secs”. Card came back! Clicked on thumbnail button and there were my shots from earlier, whoopee!

Meanwhile the speaker still in full swing.

So I took out that card, kept it safe and put a new card in. Rolling again!

The new card switchover wasn’t quite as simple as that. It was the ‘A’ slot that had the problem and when I put a new card in the same slot I got a card unreadable message. When I tried to format the card I had another ‘cannot format’  kind of message. So I switched to the ‘B’ slot which worked and I continued the job using just one card in that slot.

This morning I decided to find out why the new card wouldn’t format. I looked through the menus and came to ‘Repair Image DB File’. That’s worth a try I thought. It worked – very easy – very quick.

So if this ever happens to you it can actually be sorted quite quickly. Probably in less than 4 minutes.

1/ Recover the card when prompted by the menu system – it will only take a couple of minutes ( if you read the instructions correctly – unlike me!)

2/ Take out the recovered card and put a NEW card in the problem slot (mainly to make sure you save what you have recovered on the previous card) – go to the menu. Go to the bottom section ‘OTHERS’ and then select ‘REPAIR IMAGE DB FILE’

This will both recover your images (Step 1) and make both card slots useable (Step 2).

This of course is not definitive and maybe I was lucky to get my footage back so the advice comes with no guarantee. However that is the way it worked for me.

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Time-lapse with the Panasonic GX8

 

Recently I was asked to make a time-lapse video during the creation of Susan Stockwell’s art installation at Hall Place, Bexley.

The installation – Trade Winds – would be made from thousands of coins on which would ‘float’ small ships made with paper money from around the world. I was aware that the installation could take up most of the floor space in the room which was about 8 x 10 metres so the first thing to sort out was where to put the camera. A tripod wasn’t an option as the chances of it being moved by accident were high but luckily there was a small lighting rail on the ceiling which I could use to hang a lightweight camera. I mounted the GX8 with a small clamp – backed up with Gaffa tape and a safety chain just in case the clamp and tape didn’t hold.

I used a 7.5mm Samyang Lens to cover the whole floor with the intention of cropping into the frame for the best coverage of Susan’s work.

The camera has a very good built-in intervalometer which is very easy to set up to shoot a series of images. I shot RAW still frames and didn’t use the in camera conversion to movie (quite frankly the conversion in camera is not very good). I processed the RAW frames in Capture One so I could output as jpegs which were then imported into Premiere Pro. I could then crop the full frame images as necessary to the 16:9 format.

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The Panasonic GX8 hanging upside down from the lighting rail.
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The final installation

It all worked pretty well and was used as both a standalone time-lapse and also as part of a longer video about the installation.

The only real issue I had was with the battery life which lasted  about 180 minutes, maybe a little more. Shooting about 3 frames a minute gave me around 600 frames or so depending on which battery was used. The installation progressed over 5 days so I would be away for much of the time, going in when I could to change batteries.  Sometimes the battery died before I could get in to replace it so there are a couple of points where the time-lapse moves on slightly quicker than it should but overall I think it works.

Susan Stockwell’s work can be seen on Su’s website.

Straight 8, the result

Well, I finally got around to seeing my Straight 8 film last month. To my surprise it was chosen for one of the London screenings, so on June 12th we had a family outing to The Vue Cinema in Piccadilly to go and see the result. Popcorn and all!

I have pretty much never shown unedited film, or even stills, for that matter to anyone. There’s always been some kind of edit, however minimal. Now here I was sitting among strangers – film makers, in a proper cinema, to watch something I hadn’t even seen myself!  Which was filmed with a 35 year old camera I had only used once to check it was working!

Obviously I must like making life hard for myself but that’s the partly the point of Straight 8. It’s not easy to produce something within the constriction of the 3 minute 20 seconds of film without having the luxury to edit afterwards. The only thing I had control over was the soundtrack, and I thought well at least that’s not too bad – people will have something to listen to.

My film was towards the end of the 25 shown so I had time to enjoy the others, the time flew by and then mine was up! The interesting thing was when my film came on I found that I wasn’t particularly nervous – I was more nervous in the pub before. I was just as interested to see if it had worked out as perhaps the rest of the audience were – well my family anyway.

My thoughts on seeing it? Yeah, it’s rough and raw – but that’s Straight 8. It was mostly a feeling of relief that it had kind of worked out something like I planned but really it inspired me to do it again. Push myself with a more difficult theme next time. It’s just a bit of fun so might as well push the limits – I played it a bit safe this time.

You can see my film above and if you want to see the others from the screenings the link is   www.https://vimeo.com/straight8/videos

Straight 8, the experience.

My Sankyo EM30XL plus iphone.
My Sankyo EM30XL plus iphone.

Yesterday I put my Straight8 film in the post, uploaded the sound file and so completed the project. Now all I have to do is wait to see if, among other things, the camera worked properly and my timings are vaguely as I expected them to be.

For those who may not be aware of the Straight8 film competition, the rules are; shoot one roll of super 8 film to make your movie, edit in camera and put together your soundtrack (without seeing the finished film).  This means a lot of planning – when I shoot video it’s mostly to a fairly open brief and I pretty much think on my feet – with only a loose (changeable) plan in my head. So for me this turned out to be a lot harder than I had anticipated – not helped by the fact that I chose an idea for my film which was subject to changes on the day.

I storyboarded as best I could and wrote down anticipated timings for shots. The day before the shoot I realised that small delays between me pressing the button on the camera and starting/stopping the stopwatch on the iphone could mean over a 10% difference between the two! That would be quite crucial in a film 200 seconds long. That’s why the iphone is taped to the top of the camera – anything to make the timing as easy as possible.

On the day I had to time every shot and then write the time on the storyboard and keep a running total and try to keep to the planned shots. Add to that the fact that I forgot to use the stopwatch for 3 or 4 shots meant that by about two minutes in I had lost track of how much film I had left. The film counter on the camera being fairly vague, so I couldn’t rely on that.

There’s not the luxury of editing the film afterwards, no retakes, any mistakes are locked in for good. Afterwards all thoughts of ‘if only’ are pointless.

Why did I do it? Well I hadn’t used an 8mm camera for many years but love shooting film (as stills) so here was an opportunity to shoot film, go back to basics and well, test myself. Whether my film is good or bad, its an experience I can take back into my working life and improve it.

Will I do it again – I can’t wait. It’s like coming off a scary fairground ride and then immediately wanting to get back on again.

 

Season’s Greetings – Retro TV

 

I started putting out a little Christmas video message to my clients three years ago and so this is the third one.

My wife Kim, showed me her  cousin’s little decoration idea so I thought that I’d share it and do it 60’s TV style – with the help of our daughter Emma as ‘presenter’.

Black & white conversion was done in Premier Pro using ‘SL Noir 1965’.

Music – ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’ by Dreamnote Music at Audiojungle.net

Happy Holidays.

 

Filming Laura Ellen Bacon

Laura Ellen Bacon working at Hall Place
Laura Ellen Bacon working at Hall Place

 

I meant to write this a couple of months ago but it’s been a busy time in various ways and I’ve only now got around to it.

Anyway I spent 13 days over 3 weeks this summer shooting a short film of Laura Ellen Bacon working at Hall Place, a Tudor House situated about a 15 minute walk from where I live in Bexley. Art exhibitions are a central theme of Hall Place and visitors almost always have the chance to view an exhibition when visiting the house and gardens. Laura’s work was part of the Watershed exhibition, Laura was also the first Artist in Residence at Hall Place and I had the opportunity to film her at work.

Laura works with willow and makes large structures which are often placed out in the open, as was the case here. The weather played its part, starting reasonably well the first day or two but after that most days it seemed to rain – quite heavily sometimes. Pretty much your typical English summer. I think there were one or two sunny days somewhere in there, but Laura carries on working whatever the weather! So I had to rainproof the cameras a lot of the time. I was filming with a Canon XF100 and 2 Canon 5Ds. I had proper waterproof covers for the 5Ds but the XF100 had to make do with a cut down plastic bag – but then I do tend to improvise a lot with things like that so it wasn’t a problem.

As I live close by I could pop over for an hour or so, have a chat with Laura about how the work might progress through the day then maybe go back later for another hour or two. I felt it was important not to get in Laura’s way too much and allow her to work so I didn’t hang around any longer than necessary. So with a couple of weekend breaks this is how it went over 3 weeks. It was a great experience to be able to be there on pretty much a daily basis and watch Laura at work and to see the sculpture take shape.

Laura was assisted by her partner Robert Clough and both were a pleasure to work with, particularly as they shared their Rocky Road cake with me!

The video can be seen at      http://www.vimeo.com/141776115