“What microphone can I use with an OSMO gimbal camera?”….
I have been asked this question a few times in recent months so wanted to share a piece from our friends at their MyMyk blog.
Thanks for being a loyal MyMyk email subscriber. We appreciate hearing from you and
be sure to check into our Myklopedia page for hints and tips on capturing quality audio. Please contact us if you ever have any questions, our team will do their upmost to help you. If you have a contribution we would love to hear from you. Our products are being used in some very interesting ways about which we are always keen to learn.
Todays mail shot is inspired by one of our regular Myklopedia subscribers from Canada, who has been using SmartMyk and SmartLynk PLUS with the OSMO Gimbal camera. He has been using this combination for shooting Ice Hockey games. The OSMO camera is without a doubt a superb device for single shooters who need to capture action whilst on the move. Large steady rigs are either to cumbersome or inappropriate for the situation, especially at crowded events such as those at a sports stadium.
The answer is the OSMO, however, the OSMO has very basic audio features which are limited to one microphone input. By integrating SmartMyk and SmartLynk PLUS into the rig, the combination of these MyMyk products and the OSMO camera transforms the whole system to a new level of performance. We thought you maybe interested to read Scotts posting that he sent to us over the weekend.
Dear MyMyk friends.
I have recently been using the SmartMyk & SmartLynk PLUS Combo Audio system with the OSMO camera for shooting Ice Hockey games. Unlike many other camera mounted microphones that I have tried, SmartMyk is a low profile design and does not encroach into the view of the lens when following the play. SmartLynk provides me with two microphone inputs and because SmartLynk has Plug & Power on the inputs I have been using the MyMyk SportsMyk,clipped to the peak of my cap with the mini boom effectively positioned near my mouth as my commentary mic.
For the setup, I plug SmartMyk into input 1 and the SportsMyk into input 2. I plug the mic output of SmartLynk into the mic input of the OSMO to record the action directly to the picture. I set SmartLynk to Split mode, recording my commentary separately from the action on the rink, which is now being recorded onto the OSMO by SmartMyk.
I record the commentary with SportsMyk using the MyMyk reporter APP, which is plugged into the SmartLynk APP output. In the post production process I then edited and posted the commentry while keeping the audio from the action, intact.
It can be very noisy in the Ice Stadium, fortunately SmartLynk PLUS has a powerful headphone monitor amplifier making it easy to hear the audio and adjust the levels going to the camera and the APP. I mounted the system directly to the OSMO as shown, although I understand that it can be mounted separately on a pole or stand.
I have discovered that the mobile phone view monitoring option works well when hand held rather than being attached to the camera. The game moves very quickly and fortunately the wide camera angle on the OSMO ensures that I capture the action. I can reference this by quickly checking on the phones screen. I found mounting the MyMyk audio suite to the camera the best option to ensure it collects the sounds from the particular piece of action.
This is a very cool system and it all packs neatly into my pocket. If you have any comments on my set up I would really be glad to hear from you.
Scott Robbins – Montreal Canada
For more information on MyMyk’s range of products please go to their website www.mymyk.com
Nikon just announced three 1″sensored premium compacts: the Nikon DL18-50, DL24-85 and DL-24-500. They have all the bases covered and at a great price. The two smaller cameras promise to produce great images and still fit in a pocket, so a great option for expedition and travel. The big brother is still relatively compact but offers an amazing zoom range. One huge benefit of these types of cameras is no dirty sensors as they never get exposed to the elements. A big bonus when on the road
The electronics of all three models appear to be very similar (sensor, processor, AF system), and what attracts me as a filmmaker is that they all support for 4K video. Add to that, they have a clean HDMI output so I can use an external recorder if I want to up the recording quality even more. I often use a monitor like the SmallHD 502, which will also be great with these cameras, but for unobtrusive street shooting, just stick with the built-in tilting screens.
All have 3″ touchscreen OLED displays, the 18-50 and 24-85 offer just tilting options but the screen on the 24-500 is fully articulating. I am also keen to try the improved capabilities of ‘SnapBridge’. This allows a more robust connection to a smartphone so you can control the camera or instantly share images through social networking.
I am about to test a Nikon D500 and will be pushing the new AF system to the limits as I shoot a wildlife story, it is good to see the DL range also sports an updated system which combines 105 phase-detect points with 171 contrast-detect points. The specifications say this will allow for continuous shooting at 20 fps!
I am most interested in the 18-50 version as it is equipped with a ND filter that will be of great assistance when shooting video, while maintaining suitable shutter speeds in outdoor conditions (1/50-1/60 sec to mirror the look of a film camera). The lens is also fast f1.8-f2.8, so should be good in low light. I can see this being a really useful camera for shooting from the waist when you want to capture street scenes and stay low profile. Also good for us video shooters is the fact that the camera has full manual control. Along side this it also offers Raw support for stills. I would love to see a 42mp sensor as seen in a competing camera, but for the price, this is a great feature set.
The DL24-85 is perhaps more suited to those of us who shoot more stills than video, although the quality fo the images would be great from this or its wider lensed sister. It lacks the ND filter, which makes it less handy for video, but adds macro capabilities. I guess you need one each of these cameras and grab the one most appropriate for the task in hand.
Less pocketable but superbly equipped for travel is the DL 24-500. The 24-500mm equivalent lens offers a great range for travel and anyone interested in wildlife shooting.
These cameras should be available in early summer. For more information go to the Nikon site
Over the last year the sales of drones for aerial filming and photography have exploded. I may be one of the few people in my circle of friends that has resisted the temptation to purchase one. Many of my colleagues have made the investment with varying degrees of success in the results they are achieving. Over the last year I also had the pleasure of working on a new 20 part documentary series titled Big Picture Earth. It is scheduled to be available in March through the new online service Curiosity Stream. The series gave me a thorough education in the do’s and don’ts of aerial filming with drones.
We used aerials in many of the episodes, each showcasing an iconic landmark, during which time I mostly directed the aerial shooting or occasionally operated the camera gimbal, but never acted as pilot. I quickly learned that flying at a professional level takes a commitment and skill level that many owner / operators do not meet. Fortunately through some colleagues at the BBC, I started work with the team from a UK based company called AerialVue. The company is run by Dave Halton, who has an engineering background and an amazing understanding of how to build, maintain and operate what he prefers to call a heli-cam… drone has too many connections to the aircraft flown by the military for less peaceful activities.
In contrast to the AerialVue team, and with a few exceptions, I have also seen some horrors, both in terms of the lack of understanding of the film making process, lack of skill in operating the aircraft or just plain bad judgment that can be dangerous for the crew or innocent bystanders.
In the last twelve months I have witnessed multiple crashes, fortunately the drone being the only fatality, seen unusable footage due to technical issues with the camera and copter, as well as running into issues with no fly zones…. So as a filmmaker, how do you either become a good pilot or find someone else to work with to capture good aerials. My time working with the AerialVue team taught me a lot of valuable lessons of how to do it right.
Here are my ten points to look for if you want to be successful.
Find a very skilled pilot to work with or spend the time to teach yourself, making sure you have excellent skills before flying on a real film project. Yes, you can buy a rig from a big box store like Best Buy, take it home and be airborne ten minutes later but that will end badly! The AerialVue team have tens of thousands of hours logged, made the rooky mistakes long before trying to become professional, skills that takes years to hone, but as the rest of the points will describe, many of the things you need to know can be implemented next time you fly.
Set up a safety protocol which includes
A designated take-off and landing pad that is clearly defined, is safe for the copter and has good separation from bystanders. That means the machine is not in danger of turning over and is clear of dust that will dirty the lens and over time damage the mechanics of your rig. Take a weighted blanket or tarp into the field for this purpose or even a folding table.
Have a clear idea of your flight plan, which takes into account legal restrictions, permissions from property owners and is understood by the whole crew
Know a clear a set of commands or announcements that are verbally given as the machine is powered up, takes off and lands eg “Spinning Up” “Taking off” “Landing”… this may seem obvious but it is essential so that someone does not approach the machine at the wrong time and this keeps people focused.
DO NOT… and I will say again…. DO NOT fly the UAV out of visual contact, even if your system is equipped with a GPS map that appears on a tablet. In most places this is illegal, as well as being down right foolish as it is impossible to be completely aware of situations you may be getting yourself into. If you don’t crash into something, fly into a restricted zone, chances are you will lose reference of where your machine is, run low on battery and end up crash landing. I have seen this more than once with copters ending up in a lake, narrowly avoiding ending up in crevasse on a glacier or getting broken when the operator can’t get the machine back to the designated landing pad.
In addition to the flight plan, have a good understanding of the shots you want to achieve before taking off. That means whoever is directing needs to communicate clearly with the aerial team before any flight and have direct and simple commands for them during the flight. If you fail to do this, half the battery pack will be spent before the camera starts to capture usable images on any particular flight
Have enough batteries for the UAV and camera to complete the task. This seems obvious, but countless times I have been on shoots where the drone team has perhaps 4 packs, when the flights will require 12. Always check this at the planning stage and assume nothing… remember the golden rule of production, “assumption is the mother of all screw-ups”. Although most of my producer friends would word that a little more crudely.
Make sure that the charging situation for the battery packs is carefully monitored. Many units from companies like DJI now have smart chargers, but other rigs do not and require chargers to be programmed every time they are used. A mistake can literally be fatal as if incorrectly charged, packs can easily ignite, burning with immense heat that can not be extinguished easily. There are countless example of homes or offices burnt to the ground thanks to mishandled batteries. If you are on a shoot and staying in a hotel and recharging at night, ask yourself if you want to be responsible for starting a fire with the possible loss of life and property being catastrophic! Stay with the batteries as they charge and keep monitoring them during the entire process. Never leave them unattended.
Talking of batteries, don’t try to squeeze in one more shot when your batteries are low, towards the end of a flight. Have a defined cut-off point when you are something like 20% capacity and always return to the landing point at this time. First you are in danger of losing power and crashing but also this practice will damage batteries and mean they have to be replaced… an expensive day out.
Not only should the pilot have visual contact with the copter, but they, along with the gimbal operator and director should have access to a video monitor that is showing the camera feed. Last year I worked with a pilot that refused to work with a monitor. He could not see his ground speed and how it related to the landscape we were shooting, couldn’t see if the framing was correct and wanted me as director to feed him this information as we proceeded. I heard panicked requests like “are we moving yet?” It cut down productivity to a fraction of what it should have been and wasted everyone’s time.
Keep checking camera settings and the lens as you shoot, making regular adjustments as required. I try to avoid any automatic functions such as focus or exposure unless using a cheaper unit that is designed to be used with something like a GoPro. We were flying over Rome last year and despite requesting full manual mode, the operator thought he knew best and enabled autofocus on a Panasonic GH4. We were in low light conditions and the camera kept hunting for focus due to the lack of contrast in the image. In and out it went as the shot went on, and to compound the issue, he also had such a bad video downlink that you could not see this happening. Guess what he had to come back another day and redo everything. As an extra note about cameras & lenses, carry a polarizing filter and a selection of ND filters so you can maintain a filmic look by shooting at 1/50sec for 24/25p filming situations. This means you can shoot a mid range aperture (f5.6-f8) in sunny conditions. Not having to stop the lens down too much (f16-f22) as this means you will not being getting optimal sharpness from the lens. The polarizer will also give more saturated colors. This will also mean selecting a lens that can take a filter. Some wide-angles have dome fronts that will not allow this. In my experience using this kind of lens can also lead to more issues with flare when flying into the sun…
Illustrated by this experience in Rome, make sure the downlink for video monitoring is solid and of good enough picture quality to judge composition, focus, whether there is dirt on the lens and whether the flight is of the correct speed, altitude and bearing.
Bring spare parts with you into the field. That is everything from extra batteries, cables that might break, cable ties to secure loose wires, antennas… basically anything that might break or be lost. The team from AerialVue take no chances, not only do they have spare parts, they bring at least one spare drone that can be airborne in minutes should there be a problem.
Apologies if many of these points seem obvious but when you hire an aerial team assume nothing as all the things that I have described going wrong have all happened to me in the last twelve months when I have trusted operators will be well prepared. Of course with the exception of the AerialVue team (and a few pilots here in the US such as Matt Ragan of Birds Eye of Big Sky) who showed us how to do it right!
Dave flies a wonderful UAV called a Skyjib and that he has modified so that he has incredible control of the flights and camera positioning. The first time I flew with him I asked him to catch the rays of the rising sun at dawn along the top of a large ruin in Yorkshire. As a cinematographer, it was the dream shot to capture but most of the previous pilots I had worked with would have had a one in ten chance to getting it right… Of course Dave and his camera operator Steve Draper nailed it first time. And all thanks to them being more prepared than any other team I have worked with.
Dave Halton of AerialVue with the typical selection of heli-cams he brings to locations
Another great announcement at the recent CES show in Las Vegas was the introduction of the new Nikon actioncam… Nikon KeyMission 360
The big difference with this new entrant into the action camera is the ability to shoot 360 degree sequences. With the growing ability to stream 360 videos on sites like Facebook, YouTube and the expanding VR market, this is set to be a winner….
As you know, I am a dedicated Nikon shooter, but also work as cinematographer, so have moved into the world of shooting 4K video in the last two years. While it is still more of an acquisition format than a delivery format, that is rapidly changing thanks to streaming video delivery through services like Curiosity Stream. They will be delivering a 20 part 4K series in the next few months that I shot, along with colleague Darryl Czuchra, and features iconic landmarks around the world from Stone Henge to Petra. Produced by Compass Light, the same company that delivered the hit series Sunrise Earth, I will keep you posted once it goes to air. Now back to cameras….
I have not had chance to do a hands on test of the new Nikon 4k cameras, the D5 or D500, and there are plenty of other reviews online, but look forward to some real world field tests very soon.
Over the last few years I have been lucky enough to work with Mark Soares of the Nikon marketing team and he was just featured in a video talking about the D500 and its exciting new features including Snapbridge, a great new technology to allow photographs to be transferred to your smart device.
While the D5 is aimed at the professional photo-journalist market, I think the D500 will have a much wider appeal, especially with those of us that take wildlife or sports images. The DX format is ideal for that extra reach from a telephoto lens and the new senosr promises stunning imagery. Welcome to the 4K world Nikon….
PS More to come on a third 4K camera also just announced by Nikon, their 360 degree action camera… very exciting news!
Those who knew Cotton Coulson knew him as funny, kind, outgoing and, above all, loving. Coulson was known to become so entranced by his subjects that he would often come back from a shoot, transformed. With unkempt curly locks and an ear-to-ear grin, Coulson was easy to spot, even on assignment. He was always the one with insuppressible energy and a passion to explore. He was incredibly attached to the places and the people around him. This was no more true than with his wife, Sisse Brimberg. Together, Brimberg, herself a National Geographic shooter, and Coulson were clearly two sides of the same coin.
Separately, and as a team, Coulson and Brimberg photographed more than 60 stories for National Geographic and Traveler magazines. It was National Geographic, in fact, that first brought the couple together.
“I came on a grant in January of 1976,” Sisse Brimberg recalls. “I think the second day I was there, I was introduced to Cotton. I saw him and there he was, with all his energy and his amazing looks, with the curls and everything. I think I fell in love with him right there.”
For five years, Brimberg had been working as a photographer in Denmark, and she was looking for something new and different when she came to National Geographic. Coulson, though just 24 at the time, had already established himself as an up-and-coming photographer for the publication.
“I think Cotton was around 12 when he first picked up a camera,” Brimberg says. “He became a member of the photo club in his school, and that encouraged him in that direction. He attended New York Art and Design High School, where he liked photography even more. Then he went to New York University, to NYU film school. Film had a great influence on him. He loved all the films from the 1930s, the film noir, the black-and-white. Touch of Evil was his favorite, because the start of the movie was so amazing with one long, long shot. I remember it being something like four minutes long.
Enter a caption
LEICAS AND SONYS
“Cotton always loved the Leica M series the best,” says Sisse Brimberg, Cotton Coulson’s wife and photographic partner, “no matter when, no matter where, no matter what. The Sonys, recently, he really took a great liking to them, but the Leicas were always the supreme love for his expression in photography.”
“That whole pan scene, it’s something that had never before been seen like that. An amazing thing. It was so unusual, and he loved it. And, in a certain way, Cotton was always out there, looking for the ultimate, pushing the edge, pushing to get something new. He did that with photography throughout his whole career. His style, even from the very start, is more than documentary. It’s documentary and art together.”
At 19, Coulson received a small inheritance. He used the money to fund his first photographic excursion, traveling to the Orkney Islands off the coast of Scotland, a region as remote as any you’re likely to find.
“He just wanted to go out there and shoot,” Brimberg says. “He’s 19 years old, he’s never traveled on his own before, and he goes and hangs out with the people from the Orkneys, and he gets into the Geographic. From there, they started to sponsor him so he doesn’t need to pay for his film. He’s 19 when he gets to the Geographic; that’s an unusual thing.”
The gregarious Coulson, by all accounts, had a knack for the unusual. Though photography remained a constant throughout his career, he ventured into other roles, including picture editing at The Baltimore Sun and U.S. News & World Report, working with Rick Smolan on his noted 24 Hours in Cyberspace project.
“He goes in to U.S. News & World Report and works there, and literally becomes the assistant director of photography there,” recalls Brimberg. “He’s there and he’s together with a lot of different photographers. He loves to pull pictures. He loves to find just the right shot, or find what has been overlooked. And he has a great eye for it. That was right around Tiananmen Square; that year was full of some very big events. He was just getting the film in and going through it like nobody’s business. He loved it. He also loved deadlines. That was something that encouraged him to work harder and so on.”
After his stint at U.S. News & World Report, Coulson became a senior vice president at then fledgling CNET Networks, when he recognized the dawning digital age as the inevitable revolution it would become.
At one point, realizing that he and Brimberg couldn’t both be on the road full time and still raise their children, Coulson even sold insurance to photographers, so that Brimberg could continue her career. He was able to work with one of his earliest photographic mentors, an insurance agent with a love of photography. He became their highest-ranked insurance salesman almost immediately. Taking pictures, no matter how far he strayed from a life on assignment, remained the constant thread.
“It followed him through his whole life, this commitment,” Brimberg says. “He had so many careers, but he was always true to photography and always true to his vision. And it’s the love of his…I don’t know, it’s not that it was the love of his life, because he had love for me, he had love for the kids and so on, but it was definitely up there. And he was very true to it.”
“He was always leaning toward art photography,” Brimberg continues, “and I think that’s what his purpose was. He did work on a body of work that was called The Space Between. It was about how you look at an image and then you have to kind of look at it one more time in order for you to see really what it is and what was his idea of what he was photographing. It was not like reality, and it was not abstract, but it was in that realm between the two. And he loved to be in that space. And I think that was also true his whole career.”
Coulson’s portfolio reveals a passion for nature, evident in many artful images of landscapes and wildlife. In recent years, he and Brimberg (who officially became photographic partners after 20 years of marriage, even sharing their copyright on images) were working on a meaningful personal project in the Antarctic, filming and photographing the remnants of an abandoned whaling station that represented, in a broad sense, the lasting havoc humans wreak on the natural world. As part of the effort, Coulson produced a short lyrical film titled Remains, which features haunting images of the decimated whaling station in the beautiful, desolate landscape.
“Remains reflects Cotton’s creativity and thoughts well,” Brimberg says. “But he had so many different disciplines where he was fantastic.
“In a certain way, between him and me, we worked together and it was always a little bit of, not competition, but when we were downloading pictures and looking through them, it was kind of ah-ha. We were at the same spot and we stood next to each other. And we would do that very often, and most often, it was just because we had zoomed in on the same thing. But then came this little excellent twist, about how I saw this and this really interested me, and so on.”
While there are a number of husband-and-wife photographer duos, few worked together so seamlessly as Coulson and Brimberg. The collaboration seemed to create a new photographic vision in their work, the collaboration making the resulting images more powerful.
“We benefitted from it tremendously,” Brimberg remarks. “First of all, we encouraged each other. I think both of us became better as photographers from this relationship, and encouraging both of us forward and finding new things.
“It’s not difficult when you’re two, it’s not difficult to be out there in the streets and work extra-hard and so on. It’s much more difficult when you’re alone. Also, in the whole approach to people in the street, if you’re approaching them—which you most often are not—it’s much easier as a couple because you represent no threat at all. What is this person doing taking pictures? But if you’re two and you say, oh, that’s my husband over there, or, oh, yeah, my wife is standing over there, then it kind of demystifies and makes it much simpler and gives it a whole different flow.”
Whether photographing people, wildlife, landscapes or abstractions, cold climates held a special appeal. Coulson was never quite comfortable working in warm weather. For someone so drawn to the outdoors, perhaps relaxing on a tropical island would be appealing.
“That would not be him,” Brimberg says. “He’s always enjoyed colder places much more than anything warm. He was much more…I wouldn’t say ‘bleak,’ and ‘monochromatic’ is not right either, but he was always drawn toward the colder regions. Whenever he had assignments in hot areas, he didn’t much care for it. He was a cold weather kind of guy.”
One beautiful image that combines many of Coulson’s passions—the cold, the sea, humanity, nature, art—is an image from Austria. It’s a simple portrait of a man on a fishing boat, made early one morning while the cold predawn light blankets Lake Hallstatter. Made in 2009, the image would be equally at home in the 17th-century gallery of an old master painter. It’s a remarkable, timeless image that says much about Coulson and his life’s work. It’s an image that National Geographic used in its own tribute to the photographer.
Coulson was clearly successful in defining a niche making images that were as much art as journalism. And, although he may have been most excited about pushing boundaries and embracing the avant-garde, Brimberg says for her, after a lifetime shared and a decade working side by side, it was Coulson’s ability to connect with the people in his viewfinder that was most amazing.
“I still always sway toward his people pictures,” she says. “I still always get amazed over whatever it is that he pulls out of people in that split second. And I’m not sure he really looked at it in quite the same way. He’s more in there with The Space Between than he is the people. But those pictures from the past, where you see piercing eyes or extreme emotions or some tenderness, that was really amazing. Funny enough, we’ve been talking about art and surfaces and things, but if you look at Cotton’s people shots, he’s so in touch with the people in front of him. It’s pretty amazing—their actions, their feelings. I think that he was a very fine photographer for describing people’s feelings. And he always wanted to touch something in your soul. And he said that. The picture, if it did not touch your soul, then it really was not anything worthy.”
Cotton Coulson died May 27, 2015, while on a diving expedition off the coast of northern Norway. See more of his and Sisse Brimberg’s photography at keenpress.com.
Sisse Brimberg and Cotton Coulson on assignment in the Arctic
Apologies in the long gap since I last posted a story. We took an unscheduled break after the tragic loss of colleague and close friend Cotton Coulson , who helped establish this blog. It is still hard to process the loss and perhaps the best tribute to our wonderful friend and talented photographer is to post a selection of his images. In a following post I will link to a article about Cotton, which wife Sisse Brimberg helped to write and is a great tribute to our much loved friend and colleague. God speed Cotton…
Cotton Coulson died May 27, 2015, while on a diving expedition off the coast of northern Norway. See more of his and Sisse Brimberg’s photography at keenpress.com.