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IBC 2017 – Danny’s Views

You can now read MD Danny Dawson’s views of his 2017 IBC experience on the front page of Octobers Broadcast Film & Video. If you didn’t get the hard copy, then you can check out the digital version via this link.

Danny was on location in Amsterdam to see all of the new products that were on show.



Buy or Hire?? Camera Kit for Productions

Buy or Hire???

by Mark Wilson (Manager)

As a manager at a kit hire company, one would expect me to immediately say hire, never buy. But that is not the case. Don’t get me wrong, it’s never a simple this or that answer. You always have to weigh up the pros and cons for each circumstance. Because every hire is different. It didn’t use to be though. 7 years ago when I first started in the hire industry, you had 5 items that would make up a kit and that was it. The client was happy. The booker was happy. It was an easier time. EX3, tripod, top mic, radio mic and cards. That’s the price. Done. And in that case I would say always hire. But now it’s a completely different ball game with all of the accessories and ‘build it yourself rigs’ that are available. Every shooter wants something different and this does put the pressure on the hire company to be able to stock and supply everything that is requested. So you have to take that in to account when making the decision. Can the hire company supply me with everything I need?

Of course the biggest factor in this question is cost. If you are shooting long term, would the cost of hire be as much, or more than the value of the kit to purchase. If so, then if funds are available for an outright purchase it would be a no brainer to buy, because if the kit was not needed after the production, the equipment can be sold on and you can make some of the initial outlay back. But what do you lose in buying kit, rather than hiring? The main thing would be peace of mind to know that if any issues arose with the kit while on a shoot, the hire company would replace or repair any item where a natural fault occurs, usually at little or no charge. Being able to have a technical team at the end of the phone to help with situations on location is always a bonus. Something that you may not have access to if you are not using a suppliers kit.  It’s also good to be able to build a kit list with someone who knows all of the various kit that is available. If you have a PD who is so well versed in all equipment that is on the market right now, then great. But if your PM or Coordinator is working from a loose kit list that they have to bring together for a production, being able to speak and liaise with a booker at a hire company allows for a much fuller kit list to be built.

If you do come to the point of measuring up costs between hire and purchase, do take into consideration all of the extras that may not be as obvious when purchasing. It’s not always as easy as googling the cost of a C300mkii body, lens, tripod and mic because more often than not there will be a lot of extra bits you need to purchase just to get the kit up and running. Things like batteries, memory cards, bags, grips, cables and all of the fun little bits that actually turn out to be quite expensive. Things that would normally come as standard with a kit when hiring or at a smaller price. This is again a pro to hiring, because more often or not, the little things have been thought of.

So my advice to those who are gearing up for a shoot or production and may face this question is do your homework. Get together a complete kit list of what your shooter will need and get the quotes from a hire company to rent, and sales company to buy. If the quotes come back and it’s a close call, then ask yourself, what will we do if there is a problem at any point with the kit? And can I afford to buy all of the equipment and related accessories upfront? The thought of buying and owning can be a tempting one, but from my experience of long shoots and productions is that items are constantly added during production that may not be thought of in pre-production. So purchase costs can inflate, whereas the cost to hire is often lower. And there is nothing like knowing you can call on someone to sort out any equipment problems that may arise.

SWS17 – 10/11th June

Alias Hire brings you a fantastic deal to lighten up the British Summer Weekends. Every Friday we announce equipment available to you at 50% off rate card price, simply by quoting SWS17 when booking. Check back every Friday to see what kit qualifies for that weekend.

Discounted Rates for June 10/11th. Collect Friday pm, return Monday am.

Canon C300 mkii EF         £90
Canon XC10                   £45
Sony PMW EX3                 £40
Sony PMW EX1                 £35
Panasonic HPX 250            £65
JVC GY-HM600E              £60
3 Head Dedo kit              £40
Kino Flo Diva                £22
1×1 LED Panel light          £27
2K Fresnel                   £17

Prices quoted exclude Vat. T+C’s apply. Open to existing account holders only.

NAB – The Alias Review by Mark Wilson

NAB 2016 was somewhat of a quiet affair with no new camera launches from the usual big players that would set the broadcast world alight, but that dear readers is not a bad thing at all from our point of view. Over the last five years, companies such as Sony, Canon, Arri, Blackmagic and others have been throwing a new must have model in our face at every possible chance. So to have no new announcements came as a welcome breather which allowed us at Alias Hire to spend time focusing on finding the items that make their current cameras even better.

Our first visit on Monday morning was to the Canon stand. As we did in 2015, we booked ourselves in for the first appointment of the morning. Alias have a great history with Canon and their products, so we wanted to get all the details and see what they had brought along to show off. Although they didn’t launch a new camera for the broadcast market, they did release an exciting new lens that peaked our interest immediately. The 18-80mm EF Servo lens is what we hope will be the start of a new wave of servo driven lenses that change the way we shoot on cameras such as the C300, C100 and C500. A Constant T4.4 across the focal range, this Super 35mm lens is a hybrid of the popular EF, Cinema and Cine-Servo lenses already available from Canon. It can be powered from the camera mount on the C300mkii or C100mkii and can control the zoom, focus and iris. It’s a lens we think many people will be looking forward to getting their hands on this year. Hopefully it will prove very popular so Canon can expand the range of this lens type.  Canon also showcased a lot of 8K research and development equipment including an 8K camera and monitor. Canon clearly want to be seen at the forefront of new technologies. From a personal point of view, I was blown away by the sheer detail shown on their 8K monitor. It was like no monitor I have ever seen.

We spent a lot of time on the Canon stand compared to Sony’s, purely because there was nothing new for us to look at. The Sony PXW FS7 is still a very popular camera for our market and with the FS5 being released in the latter half of last year, I don’t think Sony have any real need to introduce any new ‘camcorder’ cameras.  Having completed our visit to the big two, this meant we could really start our walk around the show and this is where the magic happens. This is where you go in blind and hope to stumble across something magical and that’s exactly what we did, but more on that later.

The stand that was difficult to miss due to its sheer size and colourfulness was the Atomos stand. It was here that they released the Flame series of monitor / recorder which included the Shogun Flame and Ninja Flame. Their key selling points being HDR (High Dynamic Range) monitoring capabilities. Using AtomHDR, a proprietary image processing technology that maintains vibrant colour whilst shooting in Log profile where bright scenes may cause banding or washout. Atomos did mention they would bring HDR monitoring to some existing products via a free download coming soon however they did point out it would not be as good as the Flame series because of the technical specs of the current machines, such as the Shogun.

There was a lot of LED lighting as you would expect at the show with brands from around the globe but the one we loved was from a home grown talent, Rotolight. They released the Rotolight Anova Pro which they were keen and excited to show us and we now know why. Improving on the original Anova, Rotolight have taken many of the SFX features from their Neo product and placed them into the Anova Pro along with a few extras including still photographer’s flash gun option where you can trigger a flash from a remote plugged into the back of the unit. You can also use a wide array of wired triggers from multiple manufacturers. We loved this light so much that we are hoping the first set of serial numbers 001 and 002 have our name on them.

A company that has really pushed its way to front of house at the trade shows over the last few years is DJI. Positioned next to the GoPro stand, DJI continues its drive to make products that are affordable, well built and appeal to the next generation of film makers. The DJI stand had a wide array of products including their range of Drones, the wonderful Osmo and very handy grip equipment that is already available but what caught my eye was an adapter plate to allows the X5 camera to be mounted to the OSMO along with the DJI Wireless remote follow focus unit. Hopefully soon they will release a chest mount for the OSMO as this little handheld gimbal camera has become a very popular unit in the hire market. For more info or to buy an OSMO or anything from the DJI range contact Dan Wheeler at PEC Video dan@pec.co.uk.

JVC were showing their PTZ remote heads as fixed cameras are becoming almost a mainstay in broadcast production at the moment, and while I’m on the subject of remote control units iFootage have multiple motorised attachments that can be used with their Shark Slider. A lightweight slider that we love and could quite possibly one of the best on the market at the moment, and we have loads of them.

Blackmagic released a beautiful and affordable 4K 7” monitor recorder in their Video Assist range. HD / Ultra HD monitoring and recording, with 6G-SDI and HDMI inputs. Recording to SD cards, this is a cost effective solution to the monitor / recorder world.

Beyond Blackmagic, is was great to explore the vast array of stuff that some may find boring but as a Hire Company manager it’s my job to check out bagging and packing solutions. Not only must our kit must be presented and packaged beautifully, it must arrive safely. So I always keep an eye out for items that will enhance our clients experience with us including, lightweight flight cases and camera back packs which are frequently requested.

Now, earlier I mentioned about stumbling across those magical items that you weren’t expecting but when you find them, you think to yourself “that’s brilliant, I need that!”. This year there were two for me. The first was the SyncBac from Timecode Systems. A BacPac for the GoPro that allows multiple units to have timecode synced from a master camera such as a C300. Available later this year, these BacPacs will clip directly onto the GoPro 4 and will fit snuggly into the Housing with the Back Door extension. It has its own internal battery so it will not feed off of the GoPros power and can be charged via USB. Having Timecode for a GoPro multiple camera shoot will come as a welcome addition to those who frequently use these as a setup. As soon as we stumbled across this stand we were blown away and were not surprised when Timecode Systems won the Innovation show award for NAB2016.  We look forward to these units being released and adding them to our hire stock.

The second ‘magical moment’ for me was stumbling across Rig Wheels at the end of the day on Wednesday. They were showcasing a lot of their magnetic mounts for cars which have been around for a little while, but their new release at the show left me impressed. The Cloud Mount is a magnetic mount that holds the DJI Ronin gimbal and camera. The plate that holds the Ronin is suspended between the magnets and Ronin with strong flexible wire so there is play in the mount so it can gently move when attached to the car to add to the smoothness of the shot along with the Ronin’s gimbal system. Alias stocks several DJI Ronin’s and Ronin M’s so this could also be a great addition to our hire fleet.

With the show coming to a close, and having covered the key equipment areas, it was time to look at future tech or tech that is currently outside of our comfort zone. A few years ago that would have been drones, not only for us but much of the industry so drones have since dominated the shows over the last two years as the gadget to show off. This year their presence was a much more drawn back affair. This time the new tech on the block was for 360º cameras and VR. Grouped together in the North Hall were lots of different companies showcasing their version of this technology with Nokia taking the lead. The technology is incredibly complex / easy (depending on your point of view) but amazing to see. The possibilities are endless with this immersive technology and it will be something Alias will be keeping its eye on the coming months.

We strive to stay at the forefront of new technologies so that our clients have access to the newest kit. Above are the key bits of it that we came across but did we miss anything?

Were you there? Did you see something that may be of interest to us? If so let me know me at mark@aliashire.co.uk.

Media Parents and Alias Hire

On Tuesday, 15th March Alias Hire partnered with Media Parents for a fun and informative Camera Workshop evening at Endemol Shine in West London. A fantastic turn out for the tech catch up where we showed off the new and popular cameras on the block including the Sony PXW FS7 and the Canon C300 mkii. MD Danny Dawson led the session with a technical but light overview of the FS7 and C300 mkii, pointing out the pros and cons of shooting with these cameras. The audience participation was great with questions from the floor and when the talk was finished we invited all to come and get hands on with the cameras and ask any further questions with Danny or our other staff members at the evening including Mark, Lawrie and Jon.

We met a lot of great people at the event and the feedback was fantastic. Many had not yet been up close with these cameras so to learn more and be able to play with the menu systems was invaluable for those wanting to progress in a technical industry where the technology is changing so rapidly. As with our current client base, we are more than happy for those wanting to spend a bit more time with kit that we own to come by one of our offices and spend some time with our technical staff. For those wanting to learn even more about specific cameras, kit or roles in the industry, our training department Alias Academy are constantly running courses that may be exactly what you are looking for. You can learn more about our training courses at www.aliasacademy.co.uk

This was our third event with Media Parents and every one of them has been a great evening. We would recommend you check Media Parents out, http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/

We very much expect that there will be many more evenings to come involving Alias and Media parents and we hope to see you at one in the future. In the meantime, email us at info@aliashire.co.uk or call us on 020 7436 3060 if you would like to book a time to come by, say hello and get a quick introduction to a particular piece of kit.

DJI Ronin Available to Hire

The DJI Ronin is now available to hire from Alias Hire in London. This amazing 3 axis gimbal system works perfectly with everything from Canon C300 to the Red Epic. Use it as a handheld system or on a movable rig; the DJI Ronin allows you to have the smoothest of movements. Made from precision machined aircraft-grade aluminum, the Ronin offers the durability to withstand rugged use on set and meets the high demand for reliability.

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