Broadcasting Breaking News

This week our annual news project, Nyhetsprosjektet, started at school. It’s a cool project that involves the TV-production class and journalism class working together to create a multi platform news broadcaster. Through our website, NettavisaUllandhaug.no we’ll publish news like an online newspaper. In addition we’ll have regular live streaming of web-based radio and TV.

The TV-production students are responsible for the TV webcast from the studio as well as producing news segments to be part of the webcast. The journalism student act as reporters and journalists on all platforms.

In the preparations for the project I, along with one other, served as technical manager. Our job was to set up all the technical equipment, ensure it was connected correctly and working as intended. Interesting and educational job. As the project started however, I took on a less technical job (still consulting the current TM at times though, as I knew the set-up).

The set-up in the control room we use (titles and job description may vary from production to production or studio to studio, but this is how we do it)  consist of the following crew: One sound engineer, one script (responsible for scripting the show, keeping track of the progress of the production and news segments in production and gathering information like time, names of people etc. and running the teleprompter. Basically this position gathers several jobs that may be split on a larger production) one graphic coordinator, on technical manager (also responsible for video playback and vision engineering) and a Producer (combined vision mixer and television director). The control room crew is all second year students. In addition we have three camera operators and a light assistant, all first year students.

From Monday to Wednesday my job was Script. An interesting and very busy job. Today and tomorrow I’m the producer. It’s not as busy as script so that’s why I have time to write this. From next week I’m in the segment production group, meaning I’ll be serving as a camera man or video journalist producing news segments.

Anyway, you can check out the previous webcasts on our website, NettavisaUllandhaug.no or Vimeo. If you want to watch it live, we’ll be broadcasting on this link at 17.00 from Monday to Friday the next weeks.

Nikon D800: First Impressions

First impression: Awesome.

Had the chance to play around a bit with Nikon D800 and D4 today. I was not allowed to keep any photos or video, because these were not production models, hence this is not a review, just some first impressions. My focus was on the D800, so that’s what I’ll focus on here. The talk I had with the Nikon representative also focused on video, so this will focus on the video functions of the D800.

As a photo camera the D800 is interesting. It’s a full format camera, but has a resolution of 36 mega pixels, that’s on the border of medium format. personally I’m not psyched about the resolution. I don’t need it, so it’s just larger files. In addition the increase in resolution require better lenses. On Nikons website you’ll find a list of recommended lenses. Personally, I would rather have a sensor with lower resolution and better ISO sensitivity and less noise, though the D800 is supposed to have less noise than the D700.

What really sells this camera to me, apart from being a full format camera from Nikon (something I want for my next camera), is the video. Nikon have really developed the video in both the D4 and D800 models. The Nikon representative I talked to had been part of a music video shoot using the D800 and he was really psyched.

First some technical details: The camera uses the .mov format as a container for a H.264 encoded video. The video uses 24 Mbps, variable bit rate. The GOP structure is about 2x I frames per second, making 12-15 frames between every I-frame. However, according to Nikon, they make a greater use of B-frames rather than P-frames which is supposed to increase the quality. The audio is 48kHz, 16 bit so a pretty good sound quality. However, this is where it becomes interesting; you can get an 8 bit 4:2:2 signal out through the HDMI up to 1080i which can be recorded on an external recorder.

Nikon D800

It looks like Nikon have really brought DSLR video to a new level with these cameras. Microphone input through a mini-jack connection with manual audio level adjustment (though not while filming. Let’s hope they’ll fix it with a firmware update) is a great addition. Combine that with headphones output, with a manual output level separate from the input level and you get a decent, that is not a professional, but an OK audio control in this camera.

The D800 does not have the native 1920×1080 crop that the D4 have. The reason is it would result in a ridiculous crop factor due to the increased resolution. Apart from that the video is supposed to be similar to the D4, but the Nikon official I talked to claimed it to be better on the D800. I asked, but he did not know anything about how the camera scales down the video. He did not know if it skipped lines, but assumed it was some kind of interpolation. According to Nikon the problems of rolling shutter and moire should be minimal on this camera. I was also told there should be no difference in quality whether you shot in DX or FX mode. However, if you’re going to get a D800 for video, make sure you get the standard D800 and not the D800E. The lack of the anti-aliasing filter also goes for the video so the video will not be as nice.

I’m looking forward to testing this camera more. It’s a very interesting camera both for stills and video. Nikon have made a good still camera with some serious video capabilities. I like the size of it, love the fact that it’s full frame and the nice little touch of a video/stills live view selector is great. The menus look like we’re used to from Nikon. I will not trust everything I was told by Nikon today, but the camera looks very promising.

In the middle of production

Sorry, it’s been quiet lately. The reason is I’m in the middle of a short film production. A little while back I got a call from a student at the renowned Norwegian Film School. He was the producer for a graduate film that was going to be shot in, and around, Stavanger and they needed a lighting assistant and he got my number from someone I’ve worked with on another project.

I’m thrilled to work with some very professional and competent people on this project. The Norwegian Film School is a very renowned and a very good school. A film from the last batch of graduate films, Tuba Atlantic won the Student-Oscars and is now nominated for the Academy Award for best short film.

You may read more about the project on their IndieGoGo page. For Norwegian readers you can read more about the current production on the University of Stavanger’s website (which also features a small interview with your’s truly), the official Facebook page or a local newspaper article.