GEAR TALK: Broadcast Asia 2019 Roundup of Independent Filmmaking Gear13 min readReading Time: 9 minutes
BCA 2019 Independent Filmmaking Gear Recap
It’s been about a month since Broadcast Asia 2019 ended. These are some of the notable gear that caught our attention as independent filmmakers.
Lights: Nanlite Forza 60/300/500
Nanlite, a subsidiary brand of Nanguang, announced their latest range of Forza LED lights at NAB earlier this year. Equipped with a COB LED, the Forza 500 and Forza 300 have an output of 500W and 300W respectively – very impressive power levels for the relative size and weight of the heads themselves. And then there is a mini 60W version as well.
At just 31cm on its longest dimension, the largest light in the family, the Forza 500 weighs in at a mere 2.6kg; yet despite this puts out 66300 Lux of illumination, at 1m from the subject. The remaining members of the family cater for users of all experience levels and requirements. The entry level model is the Forza 60, which provides 11950 Lux output and a max 20cm, for an 800g body. Meanwhile the Forza 300 bridges the gap, providing a balance of weight and power with 43060 Lux at 1m and weighing in at 2.3kg. This model shares the 31cm length of the Forza 500.
Colour fidelity is also guaranteed with a high Colour Rendering Index (CRI) of 98, while colour temperature is a balanced 5600K. Handily all of the units can be power-adjusted in stepless increments, from 0-100% brightness. The controls are also discrete from the lights themselves, allowing easy adjustment to settings even when the heads are placed high off the ground. They are also 2.4G wireless and DMX compatible, for remote control.
Additional features consist of a range of built-in special effects. Flash, storm, TV, and flickering (faulty) bulb are unique lighting effects which mimic ambient lighting conditions – useful for videographers. Meanwhile, compatibility with universal Sony NP-F Type (Forza 60) and Sony V-Mount (Forza 300/500) battery systems increases the versatility of the units.
Camera: ZCam E2-S6
Ahead of NAB 2019, Z CAM announced three new versions of their Z CAM E2 camera, with S35 (E2-S6) and Full Frame 6K (E2-F6) / 8K (E2-F8) sensors. Other than the sensor upgrade, all the features are the same as can be found in the original Z CAM E2, including the same 10bit 4:2:0 – H.265 recording to CFast cards.
What really caught our eye was the S35 E2-S6. It does 6K at 75fps, 4K at 100fps, 14 stops dynamic range, with ZRAW – ZCam’s proprietary Raw format, a choice of EF or PL lens mount and Dual Native ISO of 400 / 1250. All the real impressive specifications that gives RED Digital Cinema a good run for their money packed for just US$2,995. The E2-S6 is slated for delivery in October 2019. For those of you out there who are not exactly convinced yet, watch the test footage and make a judgement for yourself.
On Camera Monitor: Feelword F6 Plus
Feelworld’s range of entry-level monitors have become quite popular over the last couple of years. Although they don’t offer all the bells and whistles we might find on monitors from TVLogic and SmallHD, they’re plenty good enough for many hybrid shooters and specific use cases where those bells and whistles might be overkill. Feelworld was showing off the new F6 Plus at BCA2019, being the original F6 owners ourselves, we took a closer look to find out more.
Like the F6, the F6 Plus is a 5.7″ Full HD HDMI on-camera monitor that supports up to 4K signals. Where the F6 Plus has a major advantage over the original F6, though, is that it’s controlled via a touchscreen interface, rather than the buttons on the top side of the unit. The F6 Plus like the F6 does not have a vectorscope or RGB parade, but it does have a live histogram, focus peaking, false colour and many other basic features required for shooting video. It also supports 3D LUT files to give you an idea of how your footage will look when corrected rather than just showing the raw LOG or other flat footage. Despite adding a touchscreen LCD, the price isn’t a large increase over the existing F6 monitor.
Wireless Monitoring: Hollyland Mars 300 & Accsoon Cineeye
Hollyland MARS 300
We are seeing a lot of wireless systems hit the market recently and now more affordable models are also coming out. The Hollyland MARS 300 is one of them. The kit retails for S$629 making it a good option as far as affordability goes. The MARS 300 is a great option for indie filmmakers and lower budget productions. The reason we state this is because it does have some latency around 100 milliseconds. The more expensive models that Hollyland has offers much better latency performance from very low to practically none. The MARS 300 is rated for 300 feet line of sight use; we found that to be accurate however, this depends a lot on how congested the Wifi spectrum is in the location you are using it in.
The CineEye transmitter is capable of sending a video signal at up to full HD 1080p resolution and 60fps frame rate. The transmitter features one HDMI-in port and uses 5Ghz WiFi signal to send video wirelessly to a tablet or phone with both, Android or iOS system. Its signal can go for as far as 100m (328ft) in unobstructed environment without interference. Inside a building and at places with strong interference that will of course be less. Accsoon claims the latency is 60ms (for iOS). The system supports bandwidth up to 300MB/s and one transmitter can send a signal to up to four devices at the same time, regardless of the OS – Android or iOS. This is a great tool for those who often find themselves peeking into or having to share the director’s monitor.
Tripod with Fluidhead: Teris TS-N6CF
The Teris TS-N6CF is lightweight tripod with fluid head weighs in at 6KG and has a payload capacity of 7KG. It also comes with the bells and whistles that many high-end tripod systems come with; but without having to shell out the big money for it. Together with the standard pan-tilt, counter balance dials and floor spreaders, what really impressed us was the ease of use and speed of deployment. Each leg is controlled by just one lever near the half-bowl fluid head; and that means the user can deploy the tripod quickly with ease without having to secure multiple joints.
Gimbal: Moza Air 2
What makes a good gimbal and how do independent filmmakers pick out the most suitable gimbal from the myriad of choices for their setup? After using gimbals such as the Beholder/IKAN EC-1, Zhiyun Crane 2, DJI Ronin S ourselves, we’ve come up with a set matrix to help us decide what gimbal suits us most. It’s come down to these fields; ease of use and speed of setup, battery life, load capacity, weight and cost. The Moza Air 2 with a load capacity of 4.2KG, 16 hours of runtime and 8 different follow modes caught our eye at BCA 2019 for being the most well balanced gimbal across our matrix scale.
Sound Recorder: Zoom F6 Field Recorder
32bit-float recording and dual AD convertors in the worlds smallest field recorder. Need I say more? Watch our unboxing video here and a special promotion awaits you at the end.
Price: S$882 before discount (Correct at the time of writing).
Shotgun Condenser Microphone: Deity S-Mic 2
Now, you’ll say this is not a new product and I’ll say yes, you are right. The S-Mic 2 has been around for slightly more than a year. But we still feel that this no other shotgun microphone comes close to the S-Mic 2’s quality to value matrix at BCA 2019.
Price: S$588 (Location Kit)
Wireless Audio Transmitter and Receiver Set: Boya BY-WM8 Pro-K2
We recommend the Boya BY-WM8 Pro-K2 to pair with the Zoom F6. The system consists of two bodypack transmitters, a receiver with a coldshoe mount option, and two omnidirectional lavalier microphones. The receiver comes with two output jacks, one for microphone and the other for headphones. It is rated for more than 6 Hours of continuous operation (2 x AA), with a range of up to 100m or 300ft. Granted that the body feels extremely light and plasticky plus not having the option to switch around to as many RF channels as we preferred, we seriously can’t nitpick on that for what it costs.
Lavalier Microphone: Deity W-Lav Pro
Given that the Boya WM8 does come with their own omnidirectional lavalier microphones, you’ll ask me why spend extra money on this? Most of us doing narrative work want the lavalier microphones hidden out of the camera’s field of view. The microphone that Boya has included isn’t the best for that purpose due to its size and what it picks up under different fabrics depending on where we hide it. That’s where the Deity W-Lav Pro steps in to fill the gap. The choice of colour, the size (4mm capsule) of the microphone and it’s IP57 waterproof rating already says a lot about what it’s made out to achieve. Match it with a frequency response range of 20Hz-20Khz, you’ve pretty much have a winner here.
Monitor: BenQ SW271 4K 10-bit 99% Adobe RGB Photographer’s Monitor
You would be asking us this: why recommend a photographer’s monitor for video workflow? Well, BenQ invited us to do a review on this monitor earlier on in the month and guess what? We like it a lot. It comes out of the box factory calibrated, covers 99% Adobe RGB and that means 100% Rec 709, and about 93% of the DCI P3 colour space which is very impressive for a monitor costing under S$1,500. So for those of you grading with 4K and 10-bit footage, this monitor will show you what your content truly looks like.
CPU Processor: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X
What’s the use of shooting all that beautiful 4K 10-bit 50/60P files or 6K 8-bit 25/30P files when all your computer can do is to drop frames during playback? What’s worth mentioning is AMD has finally beaten Intel in neck to neck race for the first time in a decade! Combining what AMD has been doing with their Vega line of GPUs, we are beginning to see them as a formidable foe that Intel has been side-stepping over a long period of time. So for the post-production editors this is one processor that we think could be the answer to the frame dropping woes.
Price: Check Varying Street Prices
Non-Linear Editing Software: Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve 16 Studio
The Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve 16 Studio is the world’s only solution that combines professional 8K editing, colour correction, visual effects and audio post production all in one software tool. You can instantly move between editing, colour, effects, and audio with a single click.
We did a review on it last month and one of our favourite key highlights was the addition of the DaVinci Neural Engine; which leverages GPU processing and AI to solve repetitive or more time consuming workflows and facial recognition can automatically sort shots based on people into bins. This improvement allows faster processing of up-scaling, speed warp motion and other processor and GPU intensive tasks. Lest to say you can buy any Blackmagic Design Camera to get this for free or otherwise it would just cost S$429 for a perpetual license that comes with all the upgrades down the road; yes you heard that right and we think it’s an extremely value-for-money investment.