After 30 years of roaming the country, reporting Scotland for a wide range of programmes on radio and television, David Calder is moving into a new sphere - online training.

A director of the online video production company, BITWeb.tv, he's been asked to advise firms on how best to use video as a marketing tool. So he's created a course that covers everything from the kit you might need to the content of the videos, from creating a digital marketing strategy to optimising and promoting the videos you make.

Working with his wife, Penny Haywood Calder of PHPR, he will also be producing a series of webinars on Public Relations as well. And to complete a trio of services, he'll be developing a series of media and communication skills courses as well.

GoPro Hero

Posted by on 15 April 2011

We’ve just acquired a GoPro Hero, one of the tiniest high-definition cameras we’ve ever seen. But it has some fascinating features which make it a really useful tool for taking action videos.

For a start, it comes with a wide variety of attachments that let you fix it to almost any sports equipment you can think of — a bike or cycle helmet, a hang-glider, boat or even a surf board or scuba-tank! You can safely fit the little camera to the latter items because it’s water-proof down to 60m (180 ft). It also has some handy features in its menu. When attaching it (say) to the front post of a bike, you may need to mount it upside down so that it clears brake and other cables. You can set the camera to recognise this and it delivers video the right way up — clever!

The only downside is that is had a very wide angle lens. That means that some of the footage can look as though shot through a fish-eye but for most applications, that’s not important.

Overall, a great little tool for the action hero.

An unexpected side-effect

Posted by on 11 April 2011

The earthquake and tsunami which struck Japan recently have had unforeseen consequences for anyone planning to buy a new camera from (say) Sony or JVC — especially at the higher end. The Japanese economy is organised with a lot of decentralised companies providing parts to the big, global names. Some of these were in the worst affected areas of the country. On top of that, there’s a problem with an intermittent power supply. That’s something that’s a problem for the whole country. So production’s been badly hit.

Perhaps one of the main component suppliers to be badly affected by the tragedy was Canon. Much of its production was apparently in Sendai, one of the worst affected cities. The company has other production centres around the world but it will be some time before it’s able to sort out its supply chain.

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Cameras

Posted by on 4 April 2011

For the past three years, we’ve been using a delightful little camera, the Sony HVR A1E.

It’s a camera that’s light-weight, simple to use but which also produces excellent sound and vision — and remember, BOTH are important. But the camera’s developed a minor fault. It’s easily repaired but that made us wonder about at least having a back-up. A couple of alternatives have come into view. First, there’s the entry level Sony HXR-MC2000E. This is a much larger camera, one you can put on your shoulder in the way that news camera operators often do. At the same time it’s quite light but sturdy, making it a practical option.

The only problem with this is that it only has one microphone socket, a mini-jack at that. It comes with its own stereo mic but that doesn’t necessarily fulfil the requirements we need. One option is to add an adapter, something like the one below which bolts on underneath the camera and adds a couple of balanced XLR connections which are then fed into the mini-jack port.

Another interesting camera is the Sony NEX VG10E. The interesting thing about this camcorder is that is has interchangeable lenses. For some projects, that could be very useful indeed, especially as a second unit camera which concentrated only on the images. It has the same problem of having mini-jack connections for external microphones but there are two ports.

As you can tell, we’re Sony fans since that was the kind of equipment we were used to at the BBC and know their reliability. We’ll let you know the result.