Thursday, 29 November 2012

ScreenHI at BVE North - The Tech Event of the North

Tom Duncan
Tom Duncan


By Tom Duncan, Director/Producer, ScreenHI

Part 1:  Arrival and First Look at Cinema Cameras

The Broadcast Video Expo in London is the go-to tech event for the media production industry. BVENorth however, is an offshoot of the main event which brings all the big names in production up to Manchester for 2 days in November. ScreenHI sent our resident Producer/Director Tom Duncan along with frequent collaborator and aspiring Cameraman Kevin McAloon to get the lowdown.


Manchester City Centre
Manchester City Centre
Venue for BVE North - Manchester Central
Venue for BVE North 2012 - Manchester Central
Tom: Over the next couple of days I'm probably going to learn a million new things I'll need to forget by this time next year. But Kev and I are going to do our best to filter through the sales pitches to narrow down the most relevant info: what hardware and software out there just now is worth investing in? As far as I'm concerned, I'm a selfshooter with tight turnarounds, mostly for the web. I need cost effective lightweight kit which can work in all environments and still look impressive. I'm interested in DSLR technology and 35mm filmmaking but it won't heavily impact my day-to-day workflow.

Kev: I'm a self-confessed camera geek so I want to see the biggest and best of BVENorth. I'm hoping to further my career in the camera department and being up to date with kit is a key part of that. I'm particularly interested in finding a camera which fills the gap between the DSLR and pro camcorder ranges. What is the next step up for a DSLR user?

Manchester Central
Manchester Central

Cinema Cameras - Blackmagic and Sony

Kev at BVE North in Manchester

Our first stop on the Tuesday morning was the Creative Video stand where they were exhibiting the Sony F55 and BlackMagic Cinema Cameras. Over the past year, the camcorder market has been playing catch up with the DSLR revolution and these 2 cameras can be considered game-changers in their own right. The Sony F55 is lined up to rival the RED workflow which has dominated low budget digital cinema production over the last 4 years. The BlackMagic, retailing at under £2000, brings 2K RAW recording to a new market.

Tom: (Gripping BlackMagic Cinema Camera) This feels awesome. I'm impressed by the ergonomics and feel of both this and the F55 but the obvious drawback of these contraptions is the convoluted rigs required to maximize their output. I'd be worried about the internal battery too - always having to recharge on location could be difficult. The F55 shoots 4K and although it's not released until January, is expected to be priced aggressively to challenge RED's dominance.

Kev: Hmm the Blackmagic Camera, I've wanted to get my hands on this thing for a while but I've read mixed reviews. Lets start with the sensor; 15mm 2.3x crop; this means that your image is reducing your field of view by over two times. It's going to be hard to find a lens which will give you a nice wide shot. Also, it's not an “out of the box” camera. It requires plenty of add-ons, like a cage system, before you can go shooting. Many thought it was going to be a killer camera, leaving DSLRs and even some higher end cameras by the wayside but the more we learn this seems less likely. Peeking through the viewfinder however, one thing is killer and that's the image, and above everything else, people buy killer images.

Kev testing the camera
Camera testing


Panoramic inside BVE North in Manchester

The busiest stand throughout the morning was undoubtedly the Canon exhibit. With a plethora of new models encircling an extravagant C300 ice sculpture, Canon have firmly established themselves at each price and production point in the digital cinema revolution.  We sidestepped the throbbing crowds and snuck around to the HireACamera stand, where their C300 model was rigged up to a Zacuto Recoil.

Canon Stand
Kev at the Canon stand
More camera testing


Tom: This is an incredibly compact camera system which again requires a beast of a rig. Part of this rig is a Samurai Ninja breakout box. It's used to capture higher bit-rate broadcast output - I just don't understand why this functionality isn't built in to the cameras.  The electronic viewfinder and wooden grips add a legitimacy and ergonomic feel to the rig but ultimately I struggled to get to grips with it, clattering into the nearby jib and almost knocking out one of the HireACamera staff.

BVE North in Manchester
Kev: Being a Canon user myself I wanted to have a look at the toys on display and something caught my eye. It looks like the C300 but noone is having their photo taken with it. Upon closer inspection it's a C100. My first thoughts are: “Cool, it's what you buy if you want the C300 but cant afford it”. Priced at about £4,000+VAT, Im intrigued. It has the same sensor size as it's older brother, ergonomically it's a little smaller, but the devil is in the detail. This has limited options in terms of frame rates compared to the C300.  Realistically I would want that for the money I'd be parting with. The search for a legitimate step up from my DSLR continues.

Part 2 coming soon


ScreenHI is a not-for-profit oragnisation and is one half of Creative HI. The organisation aims to provide unique job, training and netowrking opportunities and to encourage local economic activity within the Creative Industries across the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, specifically in the Music, Screen and Broadcast sectors.
See more about ScreenHI on their website
Follow ScreenHI on twitter @ScreenHI

Tom Duncan is a BAFTA-nominated freelance director/producer who develops, shoots and edits factual content for broadcast and business.
See more of Tom Duncan's work on his website
Follow Tom on twitter @Tom_Duncan

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Importance of Mentoring

Emer Gillespie














Written by Emer Gillespie

Being a mentee on the Women in Film and Television (UK) Mentoring Scheme in 2012 changed my life, and here’s why.

I’ve worked in this industry, first as an actor, then as a writer, since I was sixteen and I’ve had a fair bit of success along the way. Somehow, though, in the last few years I lost much of my confidence. Three children down and pouring my heart into good work, I felt very isolated. Focusing on the creative side, I had neglected the strategic. I hadn’t quite got round to a website and as far as networking was concerned, there always seemed to be something more important in my day.

So I applied to be one of twenty women to take part in the WFTV Mentoring Scheme. In being selected I gained a support network of great women from the same industry who are not my competitors, not my employers, but equals. These are women who care about what they do, women who are still hungry, women with great ideas and hard-earned skills, women with lively eyes, women who face difficulties because of the way the industry is structured. I learned to stop taking it all so personally. Men and women enter the industry in roughly equal numbers but we see a significant gender gap by the age of 35. Once we understand that work dries up for many of us, we can work out how best to prevent this from happening.

On the scheme, as well as the 6 1-to-1 hours with my mentor, I had to deliver an hour-long seminar to the other mentees on what it is I do. Amazingly this went well I learned so much from the seminars given by the other mentees. I gained new skills in time management and CV presentation, was asked to look at myself through fresh eyes and think of myself as a business. Instead of getting disheartened by rejection, I was encouraged to look at other routes, to work out whereabouts my skills can fit into the industry in ways that perhaps had never occurred to me.

Throughout all of this I was part of a group of peers and equals. The relationships we have forged on the WFTV Mentoring Scheme are unlike any others I have in my life: friends, but not friends who need to know domestic detail; colleagues, but supportive colleagues who offer advice and contacts.
And the people who run this scheme – Women in Film and Television (UK) - really want us to do well. That is such a great feeling. They are there to open us out and then take pride in our success. Even after it’s over there is still that sense of connection. My year took an upturn. I published a piece in The Sunday Times, won a script development award, published my first collection of poetry, The Instinct Against Death, dug out a play that has been in my drawer for years, Spinning Circles, which has now been chosen for a rehearsed reading by a new company in London, and a short I’ve written, Ada and Jim, is being directed, assistant directed, produced and lit by a team of fellow mentees. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

To find out more about Women in Film and Television (UK) and the WFTV Mentoring Scheme, which is supported by EON Productions, Creative Skillset, Channel 4 and BBC Diversity, visit:

Friday, 19 October 2012

BVE North 2012: Q&A with Anita Pal, Event Director, i2i Events Group

Anita Pal, Event Director
i2i Events Group

We managed to grab a few minutes with Anita Pal of i2i Events Group, the Event Director for BVE North 2012 to discuss what's new and what we can look forward to ahead of BVE North.

What's new at BVE North this year?
The Skills Zone is a place where we will offer informal discussion sessions to give BVE visitors the chance to get valuable advice from expert practitioners in the industry. The topics for discussion will be essential, everyday business concerns, career and training issues, such as running your own business, how to fight for your right to freelance, and commissioners pitching sessions.

The Media Innovation Forum is a strategic discussion forum for media business strategic directors, that will assess trends in the consumption of digital media, identify the new commissioners and funders of content, discuss how to monetise content in the multi-platform environment and examine the outlook for UK TV and film production nationally and internationally. It is an invitation-only event, but people can apply for tickets at

The IOV successfully joined forces with BVE at the London show in February, bringing its unique range of professional videography-based presentations to the BVE audience in a dedicated exhibition floor theatre. The partnership continues at BVE North 2012 with the IOV Theatre offering free seminars and workshops that combine valuable practical advice with expert insights into current industry issues.

In addition the event will offer extended networking opportunities via fringe events with Creative England, The Comedy Film Festival, Northern Soho and a host of other broadcast networking groups in the North West.
And we are delighted to welcome 33 new exhibitors and sponsors to the show this year.

Tell me about the sessions we can look forward to at the show?
Where to start! We have three main theatres:
The Broadcast Theatre covers IT, Audio and Post Production issues, examining the latest infrastructure and tools for delivering broadcast quality images and audio in the new digital landscape. Speakers include Charlie Cope, Technical Executive, BBC Sport, giving an insight into the experience gained from the summer of sport and the key elements in BBC North infrastructure that enabled efficient delivery across multiple platforms; John O'Shaughnessy, Head of Technology Operations, MediaCity Studios leading a panel discussion to examine how production services and workflows are evolving to reduce capex, enable remote working and collaboration; and Jennifer Wilson, Data & Taxonomy Manager, BBC Scotland, identifying the main challenges for Broadcasters in managing large archives and devising effective and sustainable metadata procedures.

The Production Theatre offers content creators a wide variety of strategic and practical sessions, from scripting to selling the finished project. Speakers include Louise Brown, Multiplatform Commissioning Lead, Channel 4, and Helen Cooke, Commissioning Editor, Entertainment, UKTV examining the implications for broadcasters of multi-screen viewing, Connected and Smart TVs; Nicola Shindler, Chief Executive, Red Production Company, presenting a fascinating insight into what production companies look for in a script; and Lynne McCadden, Head of Development, CREATIVE ENGLAND, Hugo Heppell, Head of Production, Screen Yorkshire, and Nicola Lees, TV Mole and Mentoring Scheme Producer, WFTV share their considerable expertise on how to get the green light for projects, identifying new sources of funding and examining successful and innovative financing models.

The IOV Theatre bringing a unique range of professional videography-based presentations to the BVE audience in a dedicated exhibition floor theatre. Speakers include Richard Laurence, MD, Innsight Television, examining the opportunities available to videographers from the 21 newly granted local television licences; Jeff Wood and Rich Daly sharing their experiences and tips for good wedding cinematography; and Matt Hubbard, Director, Reels In Motion discussing the growth of video marketing and how to maximise the potential market of corporate videos.

In addition Sony has its own theatre where it will demonstrate how it is accelerating change in the media and broadcast industry, from independent production companies and freelancers, to international broadcasters and cinema chains. Highlights include sessions on 4K and the F65 camera, live production innovations and Sony’s big sensor camcorders.

Can you highlight a few exciting product launches scheduled?
We currently have over 60 national and/or global launches, and we expect a few more nearer the event. New products on display include audio consoles, camera systems, test and measurement tools, infrastructure products and accessories.

Here is just a small selection of new products that will be on display:

Holdan  (Stand C29) will present several new products, including the Panasonic AG AC-90 professional HD camcorder that combines high image quality, advanced functions and easy operation at an affordable price; and, as the official Blackmagic distributor, Holdan is introducing the new Micro Four Thirds version of the acclaimed Blackmagic Cinema Camera. Recording 2.5K RAW images to ultra-fast SSD storage drives, the camera delivers stunning results. The new mount version gives users access to scores of 4/3rds lenses and PL mount lenses via an adapter.

3D Storm (Stand A34) presents the first UK look at the NewTek TriCaster 8000 Multi-Camera Live Production and streaming system, a full eight M/E integrated solution for live production and streaming, with up to eight cameras, IsoCorder Technology, 14 configurable outputs, switcher operation macros setup, a full virtual set library and four DSKs. It also includes a social media instant publishing feature for producers to distribute any content of the live show to multiple social media platforms. 3D Storm will also present the NewTek Tricaster 40, the entry level product in the TriCaster live production range with four video inputs and two video outputs.

Studer by Harman (Stand C33) demonstrates the Studer Vista 1 Compact digital audio console for broadcast and theatrical production. It is a single compact chassis with control surface, I/O and DSP, which is portable and easy to install. It includes powerful and innovative features such as FaderGlow and integral USB jingle/spot player.
Garland Partners (Stand C59) will demonstrate a range of new products, including the Teracue DEC-300 HDSDI Portable HD/SD hardware decoder; the ViewCast Niagara N2200 portable encoder and  ViewCast Osprey Card O845e video capture card; the ABonAir AB305 wireless video link; and the LiveU LU70 3G mobile uplink solution.

Slowmo (Stand B20) will show the new Photron SA-X camera system, which can record at a staggering 20,000 fps at 1024 x 576 resolution (1024 x 1024 at 12,500fps). It boasts superb image quality with market leading light sensitivity and was recently used on a commercial for the new VW Golf.

How many exhibitors are you expecting this year? Will you be adding to the exhibitor line-up?
Last year’s show was such a great success that many of our existing exhibitors requested additional space this year, and we have also welcomed 33 new exhibitors and sponsors. We have added 62% more exhibition space, and will have over 100 brands on the show floor. Returning exhibitors include ARRI, Blackmagic Design, Canford, Cirro Lite, CVP, Harris Systems, JVC, Olympus, Panasonic and Sennheiser, while new exhibitors include Audio Ltd, CandIT Media, FOR-A, Presteigne Charter, Harman, PNY Technologies, Sonifex and Tyrell CCT.

Who are the 2012 show partners and how are they supporting this conference?
Our partners include the IOV, PMA, GTC, GBCT, IABM, Media Parents, Visit Manchester and Midas. They are all promoting BVE North to their members and will have representatives at the event.

How has the show evolved since its 2011 launch?
BVE North is the only event of its kind for the region, and offers a unique opportunity to meet - and sell to - the growing number of content creation, management and delivery professionals based in northern England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The show has grown due to popular demand; we have expanded the show floor space and are expecting around 3000 visitors across the two days. However, the show remains focussed on the elements that made last year’s show such a success: its regional roots and its excellent free seminar content. We have worked very hard to pull together a great seminar programme full of local talent, and we are confident it will inspire and educate in equal measure.


Check out  Amanda McCarthy's interview on The BroadcastShow here

Monday, 1 October 2012

Brave New Directing World... Or Is It?

Written by Delyth Thomas, Directors UK board member

It’s the 21st century.

Technology is moving forward at an extraordinary rate: miniscule cameras, DSLRs and phones that can shoot movies in HD; digital platforms transforming the traditional TV and Film landscape. Kathryn Bigelow won a Best Director Oscar and Jennifer Yuh Nelson an Annie. We have women Channel Controllers, Producers, and Commissioners, and whilst we may not have a female DG of the BBC (yet) there’s a really good gender balance on the board of BBC trustees.

So it’s a brave new world then? Of course it is - in many, many ways, and hooray for that.

Yet despite the great progress in other areas, somehow, somewhere, it would appear that for women directors, things have stagnated. Studies show a depressing decrease in the numbers of women film directors, and in TV even basic number crunching doesn’t paint too rosy a picture.

To be fair, there’s no doubt that TV production at the sharp end is tougher for everyone; lower budgets, longer hours and some pretty brutal schedules. It’s an odd one for directors though as the job, despite wonderful creative collaborations, can by it’s very nature be rather isolated. There is generally one director to a show/episode/film, and unless you’re working on a long-running in-house series, you don’t get to meet many of your peers.

It wasn’t until I went to a screening of a Hollywood film made by a wonderful British director that I fully realised how bonkers it is that directors don’t have much access to each other as a matter of course. This director generously shared the experience of a bullying actor and how it had made him feel. It was a revelation. I’d had a very similar experience and to hear that this well-respected, hugely talented director had experienced the same thing was such a relief. Not so much to do with me then, just a bully is a bully is a bully.

In 2008 what was the collecting society DPRS became Directors UK, a professional association for directors working with the moving image in the UK, and last November saw the launch of its new membership scheme. Directors UK now encompasses all screen directors - TV, Film, Animation, Music Videos, Adverts, Web - with an associate membership for students. Basically, if you direct material for the screen you can be a member. There are social events, screenings, technical workshops, an in-house lawyer, a great web-site with industry news, blogs from fellow directors, all sorts of articles, a ‘find a director’ section and so much more.

Being someone who prefers wine to a prolonged whine, it’s really heartening to see how the organisation is doing something for directors.  A new UK Rights Agreement (broadcasters pay a lump to recompense members for secondary exploitation of their works)  was negotiated which is more than double the previous agreement and there is a Creative Rights Agreement in place with the BBC (and in the future with ITV and Pact – watch this space). Directors UK lobbies the UK government and the EU commission on matters that concern directors, and is committed to staying ahead of the game in this ever-changing broadcast landscape.

I have to ‘fess up here that I’m both on the board, and chair the Distribution Committee, so in the last couple of years I’ve met more of my peers than I did in the preceding decade. It’s bloody great to be able to trade information, technical tips, provide moral support, get moral support and oftentimes recognise common problems regardless of genre and gender.

That said, not to acknowledge that women directors don’t have specific issues relating to gender would be enthusiastically optimistic, and inaccurate, so I’m particularly pleased to be able to report that the female board members recently got together to start up a women’s group (open to all members and genders, by the way).  It was great to sit in the same room with six other women directors and discuss what’s going on out there and what we might be able to do. Trading stories was funny, insightful and the room was buzzing with ideas. So, watch this space…..