Monday, 3 December 2012

Video Editing Set-up and Workflow

I'm currently editing a huge amount of video in Final Cut Pro X and thought I'd share some tips on my set-up and workflow.

1) Most important? A comfy chair, crucial in preventing you from ruining your back.


2) Backups - 

I have all the raw, original video files backed up in multiple locations. Two separate physical backups in two different off-site locations, just in case. We're talking in excess of 500GB of footage here, so we can't afford to lose it. I have the third copy on a 3TB G-Drive here in my office and that's the data I'll be working with. I'm also running Crashplan+, this constantly backs up all my files to my online cloud storage (see review here). And finally I have Time Machine connected to a 1.5TB Western Digital My Book, backing up my whole system every hour.


3) Workflow - 

I'm using a 27" iMac (3.4GHz i7, 16GB RAM) which is really great for running Final Cut Pro X as you have such a large working area. Connected to the iMac is a G-Raid 8TB Thunderbolt drive and I have all my FCPX Events and Projects saving to this. This is necessary as I have set-up FCPX to optimise the footage when it is imported and this takes up a lot of disk space.
As there is such a massive amount of footage I take advantage of FCPX's great shortcuts and Favourite (F) usable clips and Reject (Backspace) bad clips. I also Keyword (CMD + K) anything that I need to categorise or use later.



Cloud Backup review: CrashPlan vs Carbonite


Being suddenly quite paranoid about all my data being either stolen or damaged in a flood or fire I decided to look at the best cloud backup options. I narrowed it down to what seem to be the two favourites in the market:

CrashPlan and Carbonite



Crashplan+ wins with its unlimited, encrypted file storage, up to 10 computers, constant live backup, external hard drive backup all for $6 per month or $120 for the year. 

Comparatively Carbonite Home Premier is $149 for the year for just one computer, doesn't backup external hard drives and isn't Mac compatible (only the Home edition is).

After getting Crashplan+ all set up (very easy) and choosing my necessary files and folders on both my Mac's hard drive and my external drives I let it start to do it's thing... However the estimated time to back-up around 1TB of data said something crazy like 3 or 4 months! So I changed it to my most crucial data - photos and videos. It still estimated more than two weeks but it runs in the background and you can set it to speed up when you are away from your machine.



It's also worth mentioning they have an app that allows you to remotely view your files and do everything from watch videos, work on documents to uploading photos to Facebook.



Friday, 30 November 2012

Video - Mountain biking in North Wales

Latest mountain biking video is up on Vimeo. This was shot over a number of days at some secret locations in North Wales using both a GoPro HD Hero and a Nikon D7000.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Heading to the European Outdoor Film Tour

This Tuesday I'm off to Bristol to see the European Outdoor Film Tour - "120 minutes full of inspiring strories, action and adrenaline". They're showing 9 films:

2112 (snowboarding)
A New Perspective (climbing)
Birdmen (Wingsuit Proximity Flying)
Je Veux (climbing)
Sketch Andy (slacklining)
The Crossing (hiking)
The Shapeshifter (kayaking)
The Shark's Fin (climbing)
Where The Trail Ends (mountain biking)

Check out their website: www.eoft.eu

and the awesome trailer:


Also in Bristol on some top secret business too, all will be revealed soon...

Monday, 22 October 2012

Heads up creative types and snowsports fans - cancel whatever plans you have for this Wednesday eve at 7pm London time!!!




Sunday, 14 October 2012

Inspirational Day...

Felix Baumgartner just went and successfully completed a four-minute, 19-second free fall at 1,173 kilometres an hour from 128,097 feet breaking the records for highest free-fall jump ever by a human, the fastest free-fall ever and the highest manned balloon flight by a human.

What. A. Man.

And congrats to Red Bull for pushing the limits once again with this mission.



On the theme of inspiration, here's a great audio snippet by Alan Watts:

Monday, 8 October 2012

PhotoFair - success!

Had a great day at the PhotoFair in Spitafields on the weekend. Met a load of fellow photographers and learnt a lot about the best way to present your prints. Also actually made some money selling my work!

I'd recommend doing it if you're looking to try and get more exposure and network with other photographers. However, it wasn't the best event if you're just looking to make money. I was very lucky to sell some of my stuff, it seemed like most of the the shoppers weren't actually interested in buying, they were mostly just browsing.

Hit continue to see pics!

Friday, 5 October 2012

Photomonth down in East London

Doing some East End trading down to this at Spitafields market with Lewis Freeth this Saturday 6th October. First time selling my prints to the public, no idea how it's going to go down!


Thursday, 20 September 2012

'Where The Trail Ends' mountain biking movie live online now!!!

I'm a massive fan of my extreme sports movies and I've been looking forward to this for about a year now:



Not only is this an absolutely epic movie but they've put it up on the Red Bull site for anyone to watch for a 24 hour period! Here's the link, watch it now!

Monday, 17 September 2012

New homepage @ www.jon-w.com

Now that I'm doing more videography as well as photography I've redesigned my homepage using Adobe Muse so that it's much easier to see both my portfolios, access my social media pages and get in touch. Highly recommend Muse, very easy to use if you're familiar with Photoshop and Illustrator.



If you want to try out Muse and also help me out, click on the affiliate link below to head over to Adobe Creative Cloud and sign up!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

GoPro HD Hero slingshot test!

We decided to test the toughness of a GoPro HD Hero in its waterproof protective housing by firing it 50m down the beach onto hard sand using a WildSling slingshot. Click continue to see the full video:

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Millenium Stadium

A 5.30am shot of the Cardiff Millenium Stadium with no one around looks like this, click continue to see...

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Latest video - Cocktail mixing

Here's my latest video of Head Barman, Elliot Ball, shot at Shaker & Co cocktail bar in London for the Angostura Bitters Global Cocktail Challenge 2013. He's mixing his 'Siegert's Flip' cocktail with the hope of going to the final in Trinidad next year. Click continue to watch the vid:

Perfect LCD Viewfinder with Nikon D7000 Review

Got myself this cool piece of equipment the other day:

The Perfect LCD Viewfinder



Click continue for more pics and rest of review...

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Footage used for Snowsports video...

Bath Snowsports just compiled a new video for their website using a lot of the footage I shot on their 2012 Val Thorens trip with the GoPro HD Hero. Check it out:


Sunday, 26 August 2012

Latest commission...

During the filming event I did with Jamie Barrow in Verbier for his speed run attempt, we also did a few photo shoots in various locations around Switzerland. This pic is the latest to be used, highlighting all Jamie's sponsors:


We shot the image down at Lake Geneva and then I added in all the sponsors logos with Photoshop afterwards.


Friday, 24 August 2012

Photo editing set-up...

Trying out a lazy editing set-up: 

- Macbook Pro 13" with mini-display to HDMI adaptor
- Sony Bravia 42" LCD TV
- Wacom Intuos5
- Lightroom 4
- Reclining leather chair!

Monday, 20 August 2012

How to get a good sunset shot...

I wanted to get a decent sunset shot, here's how I went about it.

Research

Obvious first step, find out when the sun goes down where you are and make sure you leave enough time! If you're going up high you'll have a little bit more time...


I then used Google Images, Maps and Streetview to determine the best angle and location:





Equipment

I packed:
- D7000
- Nikkor 200mm (I needed the zoom)
- Tripod
- Remote trigger to get sharper shots
- UV filter if you have one (shouldn't point your lens directly at sunlight)
- spare battery and memory cards

At Location

I went out to the location with plenty of time to spare. Set up, waited, moved, set up again and waited some more. Take sunglasses as you'll be staring at direct sunlight for an extended period of time! To prevent damage to your camera and lens, try not to point it at direct sunlight for too long, even with a UV filter.

Post-Processing

After getting about 100 shots, I took them home, processed a few in Lightroom 4 with the Wacom Intuos5 and here's the one I was happiest with:


Camera Settings: 1/80, f/20, ISO 200
Lightroom 4 retouching: exposure +0.25, contrast -9, highlights -45, shadows +100, clarity +100, vibrance +34




Thursday, 16 August 2012

Photobox Poster Prints

Photobox has excelled again with its prints, these large 30 x 20 poster prints arrived today and they look awesome!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Friday, 3 August 2012

Wacom Intuos5 Touch Review

I'm giving the Wacom Intuos5 a go at the moment and the first few hours of using it I've been blown away at how easy it makes retouching and editing in both Lightroom and Photoshop. It only took a matter of minutes to get used to the hand-eye coordination required and then I found that using it alongside the keyboard of my Macbook Pro, it made editing more accurate, easier and quicker. I've got the Small Intous5 Touch here and I wouldn't want any bigger to be honest, the surface area is perfect.



I'm not really into my portrait retouching but I gave it a go with the Wacom and it actually made it enjoyable! The pen is very responsive and you can turn on pressure sensitivity so that you don't have to keep adjusting brush sizes. Here's before and after pics from a quick 5 minute retouch:



And a finished retouch from a photo-shoot I did a while back with Australian Drag Racer, Michelle Adamos

Monday, 30 July 2012

Final Cut Pro X Video Stabiliser Test

I've been using Final Cut Pro X for a while now and love the built in video stabilisation. It's great for all the shaky helmet cam footage I have and you can edit exactly how much stabilisation to add.
Here's a video showing you a side by side comparison of the original, shaky GoPro footage and the footage after it had been processed by FCP. It was shot using a GoPro HD Hero and the helmet mount.




I've also tested the Cyberlink PowerDirector video stabilisation before but find FCP X more powerful and adjustable.


Monday, 9 July 2012

Finished Video - Jamie Barrow's Snowboard Speed Record Attempt

The final edit of our trip out to Verbier has now been uploaded! Check it out here:




In the final part of my Event Photography Workflow guide, I'll be covering how I completed the project - the editing process that I went through and how all the work I did in Part 1 and Part 2 linked to this final stage. I'll go over things that went well and also the mistakes I made alone the way too.

Massive thanks to the people that made this project possible:
- Obviously Jamie Barrow for inviting me out there in the first place
- Joe, Geoffrey, Lewis and Sandrine for their help with equipment and filming
- The British Speed Ski team for being legends and lending Jamie a catsuit
- The crew at Verbier that held the event and the tourist office for giving us lift passes and lunch!




Friday, 6 July 2012

The Shard Laser Show, London

The tallest building in London, The Shard, has it's grand opening ceremony last night with some stunning lights and lasers....

ISO 100, f/14, shutter 25s 


ISO 100, f/14, shutter 25s



Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Online Photo Printing with Photobox


Just got some poster prints done using the online photo printing service PhotoBox and was amazed by the service and quality.

Poster Print: As you can see below, the poster print I had done was amazing quality, even at the large 30x20 inches size I had done here. I chose the 'matt' over 'glossy' finish for this particular photo and it came out very nice.

Original Photo                                                                 Poster
Snowboarder off-piste by Jonathon Williams (JonathonWilliams) on 500px.com



Ease of use: The website is super easy to use an has a great feature to make the sizing easy to judge by showing what your print may look like at home:


It also lets you know what the quality is probably going to be like so that your prints don't come out too grainy or pixelated. The poster I had done above said it would be average quality but it actually came out absolutely fine.

I give PhotoBox 9/10 - Great value for money, quick to deliver and brilliant quality!


Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Event Photography Workflow Part 2 - The Shoot

Welcome to PART 2 - Conducting the actual shoot

In Part 1 I talked about the whole planning aspect of event photography: agreeing on a fee, getting the detail sorted, having a structure to work with. Now if you've done well in that first part, this stage should go smoothly right? Maybe but probably not. You'll always come across hidden surprises that you could never plan for and you'll always come away having learnt something new, no matter how experienced you are. But the better your planning, the better you cope with these uncontrollable factors.

So I was out with Jamie Barrow in Verbier for his speed record attempt. I'll get down to the grit of what we did, how I went about it and what advice I have.




Tips

1) Take plenty of spare memory cards - they fill up quickly when you're shooting in 1080p and in rough conditions there's always a chance they could fail (not that I've experienced that yet with the Sandisk Cards)

2) The same for batteries - charge everything each evening and take spares out with you. Cold weather drains batteries quickly. I also use a Nikon Battery grip for my D7000, gives you another way of gripping the camera and the option to add more power when needed.


3) After a day of shooting, download everything to your computer and back-up to external hard drives. You can't afford to lose your content so the more locations you have it backed up the better.

4) Protection - make sure all your gear is weather-proof. Luckily the Nikon D7000 is amazingly well built and I've never had any problems with it in snow, wind or dirt. I use the Thule Gauntlet sleeve for my laptop, nice and solid and moisture proof. The Dakine Mission Photo back-pack is brilliant and comes with a removable, padded camera block for all your gear as well as helmet straps, phone pocket etc.


Gear Recommendations:

We did a number of interviews during the event and for these I preferred the Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 lens for it's sharpness and my lightweight Camlink tripod for it's stability and flexibility on pretty much any terrain.

The Glidecam HD 4000 was incredible. Although it took a few hours to really master getting it balanced, once I had that nailed I couldn't believe the stability it provided, running, skiing or even in a moving vehicle. The HD 4000 was a bit of an overkill for the Nikon D7000, so I'd recommend the HD 2000 or 3000 for that particular DSLR.


I also highly recommend the iTalk iPhone app - really simple to use and great sound quality, better than the built in mic on the D7000. I just hit record every time we did an interview take and then labelled the recording the same as the video file name not the D7000. During editing I could then sync the audio and video files. The only issues were wind interference so if you can, shelter it if you're outside.



I shot pretty much everything with the Nikon D7000 straight onto Sandisk Extreme III SDHC cards as they are toughest ones I've used yet without fail.

Equipment List:

Nikkor 35mm f/1.8
Rokinon Fisheye 8mm
Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 Mark I
Sandisk Extreme III Class 10 SD Cards
Glidecam HD 4000
Camlink Tripod
Dakine Mission Photo Rucksack
GoPro HD Hero 2 + Helmet mounts
iPhone 4s
Macbook Pro
iTalk App for Audio
Skis+Boots+Poles

Monday, 21 May 2012

Glidecam HD 4000 Test with Nikon D7000

Tested out the Glidecam HD 4000 DSLR stabilising rig whilst out on the filming project in Verbier, here's a sample vid:

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Monday, 30 April 2012

Pixoto and TWIP

A couple of shout-outs for an amazing website and podcast that I'm a big fan of:

Pixoto.com - an awesome site that lets you rate photos against each other, you also upload your own pics to battle it out in the ImageDuel against other users' pics. And there are prizes for winners in each category! The clever points system they have make it addictive to keep playing and uploading your own. Just by participating in the voting, it helps you gain a sense of the 'x-factor' you look for in a photo and I've found I don't necessarily vote for the technically perfect image...



TWIP (This Week In Photo) Podcast - This has been around for a while but I'm a newcomer to it. Great podcast hosted by Frederick van Johnson about all things photography related. It's light-hearted, easy to listen to and full of interesting content - I come away from every podcast with a bunch of new websites, apps and gadgets that I have to check out.



Friday, 13 April 2012

Event Photography Workflow Part 1 - Planning

Right then, I've done a bit of event photography now, definitely not anywhere near enough to consider myself an expert but enough so that I can probably give some advice on how to go about it. So as I have a video and photo-shoot coming up I thought I'd share my event photography workflow in separate parts as I go about planning, conducting and completing the event shoot. This isn't a full guide or anything, just some tips from my own experience!


And so, welcome to PART 1 - the extremely interesting Planning section of event photography. You'll either love this or hate it. I actually love this bit because you can start with some crazy ideas and bounce them around with your client, colleagues, family, whoever.

So what is this event then? A speed record attempt on the the FIS speed ski track
And who is your client? Jamie Barrow, Team Great Britain Snowboarder (who I have previously worked with)
Where is this race: Verbier, in the Swiss Alps

1. Build rapport with client - Luckily Jamie and I are great friends so building rapport here wasn't needed but if you are less familiar with the client then the planning stage of a photo-shoot is your chance to show off your interpersonal skills and really build that relationship. Meet up if possible, make it informal and show your passion for what you are doing - you won't need to sell yourself if you have already been hired but you will need to show them they've got the right person for the job. Why do this? The event will be far more enjoyable for all involved if you get on well and you're more likely to be hired by them again in the future.

2. Structure - Speak to your client and meticulously go through what needs to be covered, the aim of what you're doing and what will be done afterwards. In this case, Jamie was in Geneva so we had a long Skype conversation and I typed down a bullet point list of everything he wanted from the shoot. We exchanged ideas and basically just got really excited about the whole thing. Why do this? You'll regret it later on if you don't have a structured plan of action to stick to.

3. Detail - Don't just go through what you'd like to be done, be realistic and go into detail on each point. Yes, a time-lapse at dawn over the mountains would be ace but what day will we do this, where is a good place to do it and how do we get there? List down all the equipment you need to take and refer to this when you're packing, don't compromise on things you think you can do without, only leave it at home if you definitely don't need it. Why do this? It will help you iron out what can and can't be achieved and will make the event run smoother.


4. Admin - photogs are renown for being terrible at the business end of their work but we all need to be paid. Agree on exactly what you getting out of it, be it the hourly/daily rate, equipment hire, post editing costs, expenses and most importantly  - get it all confirmed IN WRITING, be it through an email or a signed contract. When it comes to chasing up that money, this will be the document you need!

That about sums up my little tips for planning your event photography shoot, next I'll chat about how it all went out in Verbier when I'm back!

Amsterdam shoot and RedBull

Outgoing.co.uk hired me to be their event photographer for a trip to Amsterdam last month with Bath University, it was a huge event with about 200 students and I had my work cut out getting the necessary shots over a couple of days!

Fresherdam Event - The Flaming Finger by Jonathon Williams (JonathonWilliams) on 500px.com

Unfortunately one of my SD cards was playing up and it caused me to lose my only decent shot of the whole group! This emphasises the point - have BACK-UP cards and double check the cameras FIRMWARE is up to date (this was what was causing the problem).

Joe Dagnall, a rep for Redbull at Bath University, included my picture in a report of the event:



Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Photo used by Sky Sports - Living For Sport

In a recent article, Oli from Sky Sports interviewed Jamie Barrow about his Olympic hopes and his upcoming FIS speed record attempt that I'll be covering next week:

Article
And they used one of my photos in the article too!

Off-Piste in Val Thorens by Jonathon Williams (JonathonWilliams) on 500px.com


Jamie will be in Verbier, Switzerland, to try and break the UK speed record of 130 kmph on a snowboard. He'll get three runs on the day and I'll be there to video and photograph every second. I'll follow up this post with a blow by blow account of how I'll be planning, shooting and editing the event. We have some support from the mighty Redbull, Sky Sports and Keslar Snowboards so I need to get my game face on!


Winter Event Shoot - Val Thorens, French Alps

My old university club Bath Snowsports invited me to join their annual ski trip to the Alps as their photographer. Conditions were amazing, took a ton of footage and had and amazing time!

Here's a quick video I put together of the event:



This was my first serious video event and I learnt to:

  • CHARGE everything, every night - obvious but crucial
  • Bring plug extensions and correct foreign adaptors - because of all the charging
  • Bring a laptop and hard drives to BACK-UP everything
  • In cold conditions like this have at least three sets of spare BATTERIES
  • Most importantly - PLAN the shoot before hand and know what shots you need to get!

Equipment:
  • Nikon D7000
  • GoPro Hero with waterproof casing
  • Opteka XL Grip
  • Nikon Battery Grip
  • Sandisk Extreme Class 10 SDHC cards
  • Dakine Mission Photo Backpack

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Something different... interior design

Bethany from Hawke and Harlow, an interior design company, hired me to shoot one of her rooms. I'm completely new to that style and it was out of my comfort zone but I learnt a lot from it. Getting the lighting right was key and I had to use an external flash as there wasn't any natural light. A wide angle lens for this room was crucial as it was so small but also a zoom lens for high quality close-ups.
Here's some pics...





Thursday, 1 March 2012

Les Gets trip

Video of some of the riding we did in Les Gets...


Harry doing a bit of a nosedive...


And a spot of planking...


Testing out new Opteka X-GRIP XL DSLR Rig

Been out in the French Alps this Winter testing out the Nikon D7000 with a new mount, the Opteka XGRIP-XL for DSLRs:



Feel:

Although not the most versatile stabiliser I've ever used, the Opteka's advantages are the rigid, U-shaped structure that is brilliant for filming sports in particular. If you're following a skier or skateboarder for instance, you can grip with one or two hands and point it easily at your subject. 

Quality:

Thanks to it's moulded plastic material, it's lighter than it looks which is a plus for carrying but I noticed it had a little too much flex for my Nikon. The plastic 'feet' on the bottom also snapped off quite easily but they aren't crucial.

Stabilisation:

The frame doesn't do much to increase stability apart from allowing you to bolt the camera down to the grip and use your own frame to keep the tracking smooth. I found it fine for filming skiing but for other, more bumpy sports it wouldn't be great.

Value:

It's pretty darn cheap so the value is amazing for what you get, I paid about £20 for it.

Here's a video taken with it without any stabilisation added:




Friday, 13 January 2012

GoPro - Mountain Biking in North Wales

A little video of me and the bro riding in North Wales, shot with the Nikon D7000 and a GoPro Hero, edited with Powerdirector:

Downhill Mountain Biking World Cup | Leogang, Austria

I went over to Leogang, Austria to check out the first day of timed practice for the mountain biking downhill world cup. The weather was p...