Archive for video

The four heads

Posted in Music, Photography, Photojournalism, Reviews, Travel, Video with tags , , , on June 8, 2014 by William Hooks

This is an illustration of the 4 fluid heads and associated equipment I use for video stabilization.

The Induro hi-hat yields low-angle and tight interior shots, for example; the monopod can provide sweeping ‘jib’ shots and the tripod specializes for Dutch angles. All contribute to multicam shooting.


The heads from Benro are S6 on monopod, and S8 flat base.

This combination travels well and all heads use interchangeable, standard quick release plates.4 fluid heads_ motion options

The 75mm bowls on the Manfrotto video tripod and hi-hat allow seamless transfer between their respective heads.

So what? This combination is FAST and secure to use.That means I have more time to be creative and waste a lot less time and effort switching cameras for obtaining specific shots!

Initial review of the Tascam DR-60D Digital Audio Recorder

Posted in Captain's Personal Log, Music, Photojournalism, Reviews, Travel, Video with tags , , , , on May 31, 2014 by William Hooks
Detail of link to recorder from rig
Be careful to secure the electric cables so that no tension is placed on them!

Be careful to secure the electric cables so that no tension is placed on them!

Ledgo 600 LED light panel

Ledgo 600 LED light panel

I like to be able to easily detach the carrying strap using the plastic snap buckles, for rig placement- or leaving it attached for use as a field mixer

I like to be able to easily detach the carrying strap using the plastic snap buckles, for rig placement- or leaving it attached for use as a field mixer


shows the headphone out cable  (above), and USB AC adapter cable (below)

shows the headphone out cable (above), and USB AC adapter cable (below)






I’ve been using this unit alone so far, not integrating with the Zoom H4N using the latter as an XY stereo microphone input, and with the Canon 5D Mark III camera which has a headphone jack. This jack has been used as a camera-out jack to connect to the DR-60’s CAMERA IN jack, allowing very intuitive and excellent review of the mixed audio files sent to the 5D3 from each take while reviewing the corresponding video clips. 

This feature, internal adjustable audio slating and the highly sensitive pre-amps have already made the Tascam my primary recorder for documentary and narrative film production (EFP). 

The large number of buttons make diving into menus much less frequent. A very important issue is the ability of this unit to independently assign phantom power to microphones- so that I can revert to a preferred setup of a powered Rode NTG-2 shotgun while mixing with other mics which do not need phantom power or might even be damaged by it.

The XLR inputs are locking type and access to the SD media card is very easy- both upgrades from the Zoom H4N.

Yet another much-appreciated feature is the automatic revert-to-MIX monitoring when switching from listening to the camera’s files to resuming recording- a real timesaver, as you don’t end up having to possibly redo the take because the DR-60 was still on CAMERA IN monitoring!!!

I do wish that the buttons were backlit for low light, but consider that a minor issue.

For conservation of battery power, I obtained an AC adapter easily (driving directly to the warehouse in Carson, CA) and it appears to function very well so far.

I would usually default to the H4N for field location scouting, recording at lecture settings and routine note-taking / EFP simply because of its XY microphones. Either may be used for travel because of their compact, lightweight form factors.

The images included show the DR-60 on a RedRock Micro Cinema rig with Canon 5D3, 135mm f/2 L lens, Rode NTG-2 shotgun and Audio Technica 88W wireless lav microphones; the wireless receiver is on the camera’s hot shoe. My atrium definitely needs to be cleaned up-soon….

Tascam DR-60D digital audio recorder

Posted in Captain's Personal Log with tags , , , , on May 28, 2014 by William Hooks

Thanks Peter Beer, and also Jose ! at Trey Audio in North Hollywood, CA for your help today…. I ‘m getting started with this new DAR and plan to integrate it with my Zoom H4N recorder for ENG and especially EFP projects.

ENG=electronic news gathering

EFP=electronic field production

I already know I like several features of this DR-60D: the slate function which should make sync of reference audio to the cameras and recorded primary audio really easy, and the quality of its pre-amps. This translates into very clean, high-signal audio and I was able to immediately notice it when testing with my Rode NTG-2’s at Trey’s office today.


More comments to come…..

To the Dark Side… I ‘ve gone Canon 5D Mark III

Posted in Captain's Personal Log, Photography, Photojournalism, Reviews, Video with tags , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2013 by William Hooks

After much consideration, I’ve taken the leap to the Canon HD-DSLR system and sold my Nikon system except for the Coolpix S9100. Admitting that I miss the built-in intervalometer of the D600 and especially its ability to create in-camera timelapses…..

Key features of the Canon 5D Mark III (5D3) over the Nikon D600 —FOR ME
1- Tethered shooting with Lightroom 4 (no need to upgrade to version 5)-but caveat emptor…
2- Power aperture in LiveView
3- LV histogram
4- CF and SD cards; I prefer the durability and ease of writing on CF cards in general, and the ease of just inserting an SD card into my notebook’s built-in slot is there when desired
5- Native ISO of 12800 for video
6- Selected better specs for stills incl bracketing, 6FPS, AF points, advanced multiple exposure
7- Time code, including drop-frame and other features (record and playback); at the least this will be used for shot logging, and potentially for post (multicam sync)
8- Ability to manually adjust sound settings, ISO, and exposure while recording video-silently!
9- Accepts the same Hoodman Custom Finder Baseplate
10- Video can be actuated remotely with a $30 RC-6 IR wireless unit and tethered for video and stills via a free
EOS Utility software download (Nikon-it’s free)
11- Extensive video clip info available after recording
12- In-camera slow motion review
13- EF lenses compatible with a wide variety of dedicated, advanced cinema systems such as BlackMagic, EOS C
Cinema camcorder series, and RED. I anticipate at some point venturing into the C 100/ C 300 universe.
14- This camera is a current industry standard for HD-DSLR filmmaking. As such, there is free and paid firmare and software available which is uniquely designed for Canon/5D3 such as the free Technicolor and Marvel Picture Styles.
There are also a number of hardware items made by Manfrotto and other companies which are specific to Canon firmware, such as the Sympla Remote Controller.

Taken in totality, I found these and other considerations to be compelling. Among the other things I though about was the issue of normalizing or standardizing the cameras throughout my crew- and everyone else is already using 5D2, 6D, and 7D. Doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t use Nikons in the future, I ‘m a huge fan of their lenses and flash for example. Very likely I’ll be using a Nikon D5200 for backpacking and timelapses. But for now, I’m starting off very happy indeed with the 5D3.

More stills from the ArtBus shoot- including the Nikon D4 on a hi-hat

Posted in Captain's Personal Log, Photography, Reviews, Video with tags , , , , , , , on August 27, 2013 by William Hooks

I used my 14-24mm f/2.8 Nikkor on the D4. The Hi-hat was wonderful for use in close and in small spaces. I had to take special care to warn of its presense because it’s so small, and had a $5000 camera on it.

The Marshall 5″ HDMI monitor works very well with this setup, allowing easy exposure checking, focus, and viewing; it also provides the option of flip-image (useful for the jib setup).


Beginning steps toward creation of a new documentary about the Zeitgeist Movement

Posted in Captain's Personal Log with tags , , on July 1, 2013 by William Hooks

I ‘m beginning preliminary work to direct and create a collaborative documentary about the Los Angeles Chapter- its members, why they belong to the Movement, and their journeys as they help to achieve its goals whether regionally or otherwise. 

If you are interested in helping me with this project, please contact me and tell me something of your experience with one or more elements which may be needed for such a team. These include writing, research, IT/social media, translators, grips, audio, video, still shooters, musicians, assistant editor/s; this list is not all-inclusive, and if you believe that there’s something else you might wish to contribute I’d like to hear about it.

I would prefer to have team members who have at least a working knowledge of the subject categories listed, but there may be an opportunity for me to train some of those interested if time and other factors allow. It would be helpful if you could share with me what equipment or particular skills you might bring to bear on the project such as cameras, lenses, microphones, musical instruments, or languages spoken.

In addition to this site, I can be reached by cell at (951)-255-9568. I’ve also created a dedicated Facebook page for the documentary ( called ” Zeitgeist Movement, Los Angeles Chapter-Documentary”). 

Thanks for your consideration— and stay out of the heat!