Leaps in Technology

When we started our video production company back in December 2009 we began in earnest by recording onto DV tape, capturing audio with the on-board camera mics and edited the footage with the non-linear Final Cut Express 4.0 program on one computer. The products we produced were in standard definition with mono soundtracks. What may have been acceptable in the marketplace then is not acceptable now. Technology has made several leaps and bounds in the short time we have been running our business and we have to ensure we keep up with latest developments as well as improving our professional practices.

Firstly our workflow has increased from one computer to three, we capture video on SDHC cards, edit on Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Premier Pro and Lightworks (as well as FCP7 on legacy projects), colour grade on Da Vinci Resolve and output in 1080p High Definition and 4K UHD. Audio is captured using Rode lavalier mics on portable devices using the Rode app, Sennhieser wireless microphones and a Tascam recorder to ensure comprehensive, independently recorded coverage to create high quality stereo soundtracks in post production. For live events we record multiple channels of audio captured directly from the house mixing desk or sound board.

Here is a table of technological milestones we have gone through to keep up with changing formats, improve audio recording, evolve our product delivery and expand on our practices and equipment used:

     Year        Format/Resolution                  Audio                          Delivery                         Practices

  • 2009       SD 576                                   Mono                           DVD
  • 2010                                                      2.0 Stereo                                                         Steadicam
  • 2011       HD 720                                                                                                            Glidecam
  • 2013                                                                                                                               Jib & Crane
  • 2014       HD 1080                                                                     Blu Ray
  • 2015       35mm Full frame                                                        Online & USB               Aerial drone
  • 2016       4K (UHD)                                                                                                        Osmo Gimbal
  • 2017                                                      5.1 Surround

Although we have ceased producing physical products in favour of going digital we will still supply DVD and Blu Ray versions by request and at additional cost but now clients can access, stream and download their wedding films, events and promotional videos online through MediaZilla or Vimeo and play on any device at any time, anywhere in the world. However with each technological advance comes a signficant cost as we have to upgrade equipment to not only film but to edit and display video in 4K.

At this stage we do not intend to offer 3D video production, 360′ content, VR (Virtual Reality) or 8K UHD anytime soon but in this business you never know what will be the next big thing.

 

 

I Can See Clearly Now HD Has Gone

We started, like most video companies, editing and delivering our work in standard definition (576) then moving over to high definition a few years later, first with 720 HD ready format then in 1080 full HD resolution.  With that came upgrades in equipment, editing software and computers.  Over the last 5 years or so we have tried to convince our customers of the benefits of high definition compared to standard definition.  In reality this meant ditching the restricted confines of the DVD format and investing in a Blu Ray player.  Only on Blu Ray, and now as a digital download, can you truly see the benefits of reliving your wedding film or event in glorious high definition.  However for some there didn’t seem to be much of a difference, it was a lot of fuss about nothing and they saw no reason to change from the tried and tested format of DVD.  After all many had made the brave leap from VHS video tape to the high tech world of digital discs and that step was enough thank you very much.  Now you’re asking us to leap again into an unnecessary format called Blu Ray!  This is often how the argument went but going from 576 lines to 1080 there clearly is a difference.  A fundamental factor that escapes a lot of people is how retailers made consumers think they were buying HD TV’s when in fact they were buying HD ready TV’s, so the leap from 560 to 1080 was softened by an inbetween format of 720, therefore the improvement in definition was not always apparent.  However there is a new kid on the block that is about to change all of that.

For the past couple of years the 4K (2160) resolution, or revolution, has been gathering momentum in the marketplace, a format which produces 4 times the clarifty of high definition.  This Ultra High Definition (UHD) format is now in high demand, just pop into your local Currys store and you’ll find that most of the buying options for a new TV are almost exclusively in 4K.   Not only can you see a real difference in clarity with 4K but the technology upscales both SD and HD formats making a 4K UHD TV a great investment.  At last consumers are getting closer to a real cinematic experience in their own homes with 55″ – 70″ screens retailing at affordable prices and 5.1 surround sound systems further immersing the viewer with lifelike sound.  Other things to look out for when upgrading to 4K are features like HDR, IPS, ColourPrime, Quantum Display, HDR10 and Dolby Vision.

For us as a video production company it means making another significant shift and reinvesting in software and equipment to produce and edit in 4K.  While we haven’t seen a great demand from our customers as I write this in 2016 the next few years will see an inevitable increase therefore we have to future proof our operation as momentum gathers.  This has been coupled with the decision to dispense with physical discs, because of the resolution restrictions, and move solely into online delivery with the exchange of files rather than discs.  However it is yet another leap for the consumer to make but with Smart TV’s, digital players, tablets and computers in most homes downloading a video is now a fast and convenient way to watch, access and share video when coupled with super fast broadband.  This is the future of video delivery and in 2017 we will be offering our services in 4K with optional 5.1 surround sound.  We have come a long way from standard definition 576 to ultra high definition 2160 and we hope you will join us to experience the clarity of 4K.

1200px-8k_uhd_4k_shd_fhd_and_sd-svgBy Libron – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25976260

You can see from the above graphic that it doesn’t stop there, just around the corner is 8K, but that’s another story for another day and the market hasn’t caught up with that yet.  Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon are only just coming into the 4K market along with subscription services like Sky and Virgin with Sky Q and the new TiVo box. Online video sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo now offer 4K as an upload and playback option and 4K discs and players are also on the horizon.  For the moment at least we are quite happy to produce 4K downloadable content to give our customers a cinematic experience like never before through their Smart TV, computer or digital media player.

Be Nice….Turn Off Your Device

c161c2f34161e4b91375b05124fda476You’ve done all the hard work, you’ve planned your wedding, booked your suppliers, invited your guests and you’re feeling really good about yourself.  Your big day is almost upon you and you’ve thought of everything, right up to the very last detail, or have you?  Imagine walking down the aisle and instead of seeing the happy smiling faces of family and friends you are greeted instead by an army of mobile phones, tablets and cameras of all shapes and sizes being shoved into your face.  It looks like everybody wants a piece of you and some will go to any lengths to get it. Instead of seeing the familiar faces of loved ones and special guests you’ve unwittingly invited your own paparazzi.

Of course we live in a modern digital world where we all use technology in our everyday lives.  For many it is unthinkable to even leave the house without having some kind of mobile device on our person to phone, document or entertain but for your wedding day it really doesn’t have to be that way.  It is your day after all and it is up to you to decide how you want your guests to behave. You need to establish a set of ground rules from the outset and ask them to observe a certain etiquette.  Most guests will comply because they love you, they respect the occasion and they want to do whatever it takes to make your day a special one.

For us working as professional videographers we want to do the best job possible but more often than not we find ourselves competing with guests on the day who will not think twice about whipping out their mobile devices to completely obscure our view.  There’s only one take, one chance of getting it right before that special moment is gone forever so we need every chance to get the shot.  Only the other day at a wedding I was asked in no uncertain terms to move out of the way by a guest, having setup my camera for the speeches, just so she could takes a few pictures of the groom whilst sitting in her seat.  Never mind that the bride and groom had paid for me to be there to get the best view in the house for the sake of their official wedding video.  So long as that guest got her shots that was all that mattered.

photobomb03(pp_w700_h466)I’m sure professional photographers have similar issues with guests getting in their way or making unreasonable demands but at least photographers have some authority in asking people to move out of the way, as they often mobilise guests to set up shots and organise the shoot as to how they want it, but for videographers we often film things as they happen to keep everything natural so tend not to marshall guests around or ask them to move.

It would not be unreasonable to ask your guests to turn off their mobile phones (or at least switch to silent), leave their tablets at home and put away their cameras so they can enjoy your wedding and be in the moment with you instead of experiencing it through a screen.  Tell them you have hired professionals to capture your day and you want them to participate as guests instead of being amateur photographers or videographers.  During some weddings we’ve literally filmed the bride through the screen of an iPhone being held up in front of us instead of filming the real thing which is just crazy.

By having no recording devices present on your wedding day, except for the professional ones you have hired, you are going ‘unplugged’. People are all too eager to share their status on Facebook and upload photos of your big day which can be upsetting for the bride, especially if it has been plastered all over social media without their consent or it spoils a surprise for the evening guests.  There has even been instances of bridesmaids taking photos of the bride before the ceremony and posting it onto Facebook only for the groom to see his bride-to-be in her dress before she walks down the aisle.

You don’t need to be heavy handed about it either, just make it clear from the outset at the invite stage that this is an unplugged wedding and then put up a few playful signs at the Church and venue as a gentle reminder.  Your photographer and videographer will be grateful that you did and so will you when you see the results.

Ruffled - photo by http://www.pinkertonphoto.com/ - http://ruffledblog.com/spring-romantic-wedding-in-the-desert

 

 

 

2015 – it’s been emotional!

The whole Wedding experience brings out different emotions in different people at different times, and it’s not just the preserve of the bride to show a display of emotion. In fact in 2015 in particular it was the men who were shedding most of the tears and showing how they felt at some of the weddings we filmed.  We’re not just talking about the grooms either, we saw best men and fathers of both bride and groom getting out the hankerchiefs and being overcome by the occasion.

71-Groom-CryingBrides usually reach their most emotional point of the Wedding whilst walking up the aisle and later when reciting their Wedding vows, especially at the part where they are asked to say ‘as I take you to be my husband’.  This moment is usually the culmination of everything brides have thought about their Wedding day since they were 7 years old.  Brides are expected to get all emotional but we don’t always expect it of grooms, but why not? After all it is their big day too.

Grooms do show emotion at the sight of their bride walking up the aisle but more and more are revealing their true feelings during their speeches. Maybe the champagne has a part to play in making the groom feel more relaxed and comfortable to open up in front of gathered family and friends. Understandably nerves kick in when delivering a speech to a 100 or so guests so a few drinks beforehand helps get them through it but this is the moment when grooms really wear their heart on their sleeves.

In 2014 the Royal Mail conducted a survey for Fathers’ Day and found that men were much more emotional than women but were just a lot better at hiding it.  Being an emotional man does of course go against the grain of the male stereotype pervaded in society, it is perceived to show weakness and ‘not what men do’.  Emotions that men feel often show themselves in art instead, such as poetry, films and music.  Some of the most heartbreaking, emotional, romantic and tear jerking songs ever written have been composed by men (Burt Bacharach, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Elton John, James Blunt, Sam Smith).  However when it comes to the Wedding day that emotion has nowhere to hide.

I admit that as a groom myself I was suddenly overcome with emotion during our Wedding but to this day I don’t really know why.  I put it down to a number of factors and not just one thing.  Weddings are emotionally charged occasions because of high expectations, a lot of organising, the consecration of love between two people, the coming together of everyone you’ve known in your life, an outpouring of love and goodwill, heartfelt messages, the relief that the day has finally come – there are so many things to provoke emotion and the bride and groom find themselves at the epicentre of it all.

These moments are often raw and tender, sometimes written as part of the speech, sometimes poured out in a stream of consciousness,  Filming these intimate moments are a privilege to see and emotional to film.  We often stand behind our cameras with lumps in our throats at such an outpouring during a heartfelt speech or a moving backstory.

This kind of storytelling is a powerful thing and something we love to do.  Weddings provide all the ingredients for such emotive storytelling and this is why it is so important for couples to capture these special memories because they will never be repeated in quite the same way again.  Before the Wedding it’s all about the flowers, the dress, the venue, the photo booth and chair covers.  After the Wedding when it’s all gone the only thing left is the memories and your Wedding film is the only thing that can truly capture these natural, unscripted moments and show the real emotion of the day, so be sure to book your Wedding video with us before it is too late.

It’s like squashing your 3 tier Wedding cake into 1 tier

If I turned up at a Wedding and squashed the happy couple’s beautifully made 3 tier Wedding cake into one tier I don’t think the bride and groom would be too happy, do you?  But this is in effect what they are doing to their Wedding video by insisting on having it on a standard definition DVD instead of high definition Blu Ray.

Let me explain. Most modern TV’s now display in 1080p true HD.  Forget HD ready TV’s, they display at a lesser 720p and are not true HD, despite what retailers will have you believe when you bought one.  So you can guarantee that a bride will sit down with their newly arrived proof DVD and expect it to look razor sharp and ultra clear on a screen designed to display full HD.  What they will see is a great image but just not high definition so it won’t be as clear as it could be had they opted for the Blu Ray version.  DVD by default is SD (standard definition) and can only be upscaled so much by an upscaling DVD or Blu Ray player.  Blu Ray discs on the other hand can hold more information and will playback the Wedding film in all it’s full HD glory, just the way we shot it.

It’s all about compression.  For Blu Ray we can export natively and keep the dimensions and stored gigabyte information intact to go directly onto the disc without any loss in quality.  For DVD we have to compress all of that lovely HD footage down 4-5 times so it fits onto a standard definition disc (on average that’s 20GB being compressed down into a 4GB file) and with this an inevitable loss in quality.  It’s like taking your beautiful 3 tier Wedding cake and squashing it down into one tier (no, make that half a tier!)  Would that be acceptable?  Of course not, you want to see it in all it’s 3 tier glory.

ruined-wedding-cakeHowever as videographers we have found a way around this.  We have made the decision to give every bride a free USB with a HD version of their Wedding film loaded onto it.  So if they choose to have it on DVD they will always have a high definition version of it in their possession.  Smart TV’s and Blu Ray players are equipped with a USB slot so you can simply plug a USB memory stick into it to play at the touch of a button.  Even modern DVD players can playback HD with a USB providing it is connected to a TV via a HDMI cable and not a Scart lead.

And although clients still have the attitude of ‘well I’ve played DVD’s for years and they’ve always looked ok to me’ they will soon realise that the new TV set they just installed is trying to desperately upscale their SD DVD and not looking quite right.   Sure it looked fine on the old HD ready TV sets but not on the new true HD 1080p one.

Our USB solution will at least compensate for this if they really don’t want to have Blu Ray.  We obviously want all of our brides to see their Wedding day in the best quality possible, it’s just that many brides don’t see it coming until it’s too late.  During the consultation process brides often glaze over when trying to point out the pros and cons of digital formats, they just want to talk about what flowers they are having, the colour scheme they’ve chosen and what the bridesmaids will be wearing.  Grooms often need less convincing but usually we find that it is the couple that are making compromises not for themselves, but for others. They are thinking about their parents and grandparents, some of whom have just got used to using DVD, and how they can best share their big day with their family.

Some videographers have gone as far as dropping DVD’s from their packages altogether in favour of USB so it’s only a matter of time before everything goes completely digital.  We don’t want to be preachey or heavy handed about this because utltimately it is the client’s decision but we do have a duty to inform and educate the customer so they can at least make an informed choice.

And the winners are….

New Year, new day, new blog.  We would like to thank all of our customers and clients who made 2014 one of our best years to date.  Our job is quite varied as we get to travel around the country to see a lot of venues, experience different Weddings, get a front row seat to many events and meet some great people along the way not to mention liaising with some of the best professionals in the entertainment, events and media industries.  So just for fun we thought we would put together the Colbridge Films special mention awards for 2014….

Most Entertaining Vicar of the Year goes to The Rev David Tudor from the Parish of Canvey who made everyone laugh throughout the renewal of Jean and Brian Sleap’s vows at Red Brick Barn in August with his charming wit, slick delivery and warm repartie sounding more like a stand up comedian at times than a Vicar, especially when he told the congregation to sing 3 lines of Amazing Grace and anyone caught not singing would be made to stand up and do a solo.  Humour can of course calm the nerves and be a welcomed relief to the formalities.  At other Weddings this year we heard another Vicar encourage a couple to use Twitter to keep the lines of communication open and another who compared the groom to Homer Simpson in his talk about growing old together.

Most Impressive Venue of the Year has to go to the 16th century Tudor manor house Hengrave Hall near Bury St. Edmunds.  It has an impressive driveway leading up to the house, a Catholic Church set within the grounds, magnificent architecture, lawns and a courtyard.  Not many venues have taken our breath away but this one did and we felt honoured to have been commissioned to film the Wedding of Elizabeth and Michael at the venue.cms_page_98_25_1325425532

Most Original Soundtrack for a Wedding Film was chosen by Stuart Provan when we came to edit his Wedding to Martha.  We usually ask couples to put together their own soundtrack to go with their Wedding film and choose songs that mean something to the both of them.  While a lot of couples go for the tried and tested popular ones (at the moment it’s Ed Sheeran ‘Thinking Out Loud’, John Legend ‘All of Me’ and Ellie Goulding ‘How Long Will I Love You’) Stuart surprised us with a refreshingly electric mix of new and old tracks such as Louis Prima’s ‘Just a Gigolo’, Josh Ritter ‘The Curse’, Paolo Nutini ‘Pencil Full of Lead’ and TV On the Radio ‘Family Tree’ to name a few.

Most Impressive Wedding Cake in our opinion was the Beauty and the Beast cake made by a relative at Ellen and Glenn’s Wedding, with it’s fine attention to detail it fitted in nicely with the Disney character themed reception.get1960

Best Original Speech has to go to Mr. Jowett, the father of the bride at the Wedding of Stuart & Martha, who captivated the audience with his eccentric wit and unscripted comments producing spontaneous roars of laughter from the unsuspecting guests. This made a refreshing change to the many speeches we hear at other Weddings that sound almost identical as the groom and best man all too often lift their speeches directly off the internet word for word and, although it isn’t always apparent to the gathered crowd, we know who the culprits are having sat through many (but we won’t be naming any names!)

Most Impressive Bridal Suite is undoubtedly the spacious and opulent room, complete with pillars, at the Grade I listed mansion house Gosfield Hall.  It certainly has the wow factor and never fails to impress guests who get to see it at the end of the evening when we usually set up our cameras in there to record personal messages from guests.Gosfield-Rococco-20141-605x403

Our Bucket List Moment this year was filming at the world famous London Palladium for the first time in the heart of London’s West End for Theatretrain.  We’ve been lucky enough to film at some of the largest and most famous venues in the country but this one, now owned by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful group, really resonated with all it’s history and a who’s who of the entertainment industry who performed there going as far back as Laurel & Hardy.  Having watched the Royal Variety Performance and many other shows being broadcast from the Palladium on TV over the years it was a real thrill to be able to film there ourselves.

Most Touching Moment for us at a Wedding this year was when the Groom’s best man, who was just 15 years old, made a heartfelt speech about how much the groom, who was also his Uncle, meant to him growing up and how he missed him when he was away in the US Air Force.  Earlier in the day he had forgotten his Air Force blue trousers to match the uniform he and the other members of the groom’s party would be wearing that day.  Luckily the Wedding photographer Stephanie Cara was on hand to call her other half and instruct him to buy a pair of blue trousers from Burtons Menswear asap.  Within half an hour they were promptly delivered and matched the rest of the uniform just in time for the ceremony, so Stephanie wins the person who went Above and Beyond the Call of Duty award.

Talking of awards thank you to all those who voted for us in the Wedding Industry Expert Awards for 2014 in the Best Videographers in Essex category which we won.

There were many more memorable moments that we could have mentioned and it would of course be unfair to single out things like the best bride, or best performance or best dress, etc but it’s true to say that every Wedding, celebration and event is unique and special to those involved.  It’s all about making memories, being part of memories and capturing those memories.  We are looking forward to 2015 and continuing to do more of the same whilst meeting some great people along the way.  To book us for your Wedding, celebration or event call 01206 860090 as we are getting booked up fast.

Making John & Stephanie’s Wedding video

Last summer we had the opportunity to get creative and produce something unique for this couple. Stephanie, who owns a vintage style catering and china hire service called Serendipity Street in Suffolk http://www.serendipitystreet.co.uk planned the day to perfection with her beautiful attention to detail. She consulted with us in making a vintage style Wedding film, similar to the old Super 8 cine style footage, but after viewing the completed film on Blu Ray they decided to keep it in high definition rather than distress the footage to make it look old. Instead we compromised and came up with a romantic, sun-drenched dream sequence that we had originally planned to film on the Wedding day in fields of barley. It helped that they actually live and work on a farm as this provided the beautiful backdrop to their video and indeed the whole Wedding day. However you can never rely on the British weather and true to form the Wedding day itself was a mixture of bright sunny spells tempered with thunderous showers. The consequence of this meant that the fields were soaked with rain and no time was left to create what we had envisaged. The Wedding film itself was more or less in the can but we wanted to utilise the farm more and film a romantic sequence in the fields. The only thing to do was to return to the farm and for John & Stephanie to recreate part of their day by putting on the suit and dress again when the weather had improved. However weeks went by before we were able to find that perfect summer evening to capture the warm golden glow of the sun setting over the farm. It was also a race against time because John had only a matter of days before he had to harvest the fields and cut down the barley which would be gone for another year. When the day finally did arrive we had a two hour window to get the footage we needed. The filming itself involved shooting directly into the sun to overexpose the image which gave it an ethereal quality, then to adjust the colour and contrast in post production, slow the footage down and create a beautiful dream-like sequence to the music of The Icarus Account with a track called ‘My Favourite Girl’ (licensed from The Music Bed).