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Highly visible recording indicator for Panasonic GH5
Old 13th May 2019
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Highly visible recording indicator for Panasonic GH5

Hello and thank you for reading.

This may sound unnecessary but I'm convinced I need this to prevent screwups on a multi cam home studio shooting protocol for myself and my wife.

I won't bore you with too many details but we have a three cam setup - GH5 x 2 and an old Nikon for shooting in a home studio with a host and one or two subjects. We are learning and this has been an amazingly exciting experience to learn directing and editing the shoot. It's a start up idea and we have guests who are starting new businesses in a small community.

I suspect this has happened to many of you. If not, you have been very proactive and well trained or had good fortune. We have experienced a variety of ways to lose data or foul up a shoot. This is in spite of checklists, apparent redundancies, etc.

First let me say that we have limited resources as far as manpower goes. My wife is the host. We are fortunate to have a kind person to serve as a production assistant. He is great to work with, bright with regard to most equipment but has not been in the business for a while. I cannot personally be there to supervise most of the time and there's no assurance I won't screw things up either.

We shoot three camera angles and have a Tascam DR70D recorder for two or three wired lav mics plus a boom shotgun overhead.

We have had cameras out of focus data cards scrambled cards lost by editors sound not set right (Hey, I love this emoji), failed batteries, 20 minute timeout on the Nikon (not a big deal, it's a wide view) and have developed a checklist to prevent this stuff or so I thought.

I thought we had just about covered everything that could lead to loss of data when this happened - basically it appears that the subject camera was never rolling on a shoot that can't easily be redone. There was 12 seconds of video on the camera in question after a 40 minute shoot. There was discussion about what went wrong and the feedback was that 'the camera just stopped'. I doubt it. I'm guessing that the operator started the camera and then re-started it (aka - stopped it) and never paid attention to the timer or record indicator on the screen.

We recently got a 7" monitor for that cam to prevent another screw up of out-of-focus shoot. Perhaps the cam was out of focus to begin with or in AF mode (!).

Well, it should be sufficient to have a checklist for this but the slave monitor just shows the scene and the GH5 display is indeed small with plenty of numbers, widgets and icons, elapsed time, remaining time, etc so it is indeed conceivable that this could happen with a cluttered display.

I'm looking for a way to have some sort of LED lamp that is lit and visible to all when recording. I know what you are all thinking - this should not be needed. Trust me - it is - This cannot happen again. There are also other things that could cause a camera to go down - a full data card, depleted battery, power glitch or as above, failure to start the camera. The PA has lots of duties although it seems simple. I want to make it super simple to see that the camera is rolling.

I only need this for the two GH5s, not the Nikon.

Any ideas on this? It may have to be some sort of hack. I doubt there is an appliance to attach to the camera to do this. I know that the HDMI puts out a variety of status words for external devices. No doubt there might be a way to tap into that but that would be an insane amount of interface and programming. Perhaps there is something like a video power output for lighting that is enabled typically on a DSLR or specifically on the GH5. This power could simply drive a red LED lamp.

What are your thoughts? I love the GH5 but it's not very robust about assurance that it is indeed recording nor would I expect it to be.

Cheers and thank you so much for reading,

DJ
Old 14th May 2019
  #2
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DirkP's Avatar
 

Doesn't it have hdmi and shows on the connected screen as on the touchscreen of the camera that it records?
Old 15th May 2019
  #3
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It does have HDMI and that's how we monitor the two GH5 cameras (or at least one of them now, the subject camera). But they display the scene and not all the widgets and numbers on the mini camera screen. Perhaps there is a way to directly slave that screen to the HDMI monitor. Probably is, but that is still something that might not be noticed unless the screen is directly visible and actively attended to.
Old 15th May 2019
  #4
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DirkP's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dejswa View Post
It does have HDMI and that's how we monitor the two GH5 cameras (or at least one of them now, the subject camera). But they display the scene and not all the widgets and numbers on the mini camera screen. Perhaps there is a way to directly slave that screen to the HDMI monitor. Probably is, but that is still something that might not be noticed unless the screen is directly visible and actively attended to.
On Sony cameras like the Alpha series, you can chose if the HDMI connected monitor shows the controls. Maybe there is a comparable setting at the G5?
Old 15th May 2019
  #5
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Quote:
On Sony cameras like the Alpha series, you can chose if the HDMI connected monitor shows the controls. Maybe there is a comparable setting at the G5?
Thanks. I'll check on that. Meanwhile, the recording status would only be visible to those who can see the monitor. I need for everyone to see the recording status.
Old 15th May 2019
  #6
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Sounds to me like its OK with the two cameras and its the one that's different that's the problem.
It doesn't seem to have the same options as the others which is why you have the problem.

Not being familiar with those cameras I cant give you any work around and the logical answer of getting a third camera that matches probably isn't what you want to hear. I spent a number of years producing professional educational videos but they were all done with a single beta camera and all the shots were done from a script then cataloged for editing. I know the trend in digital is to use multiple cameras and use unprofessional actors who know very little about following a well planned script that covers all those angles.

The way I see it you either need matching gear or at least another camera that has the same features. The other option which I think is superior is a competent camera man who knows how to handle the gear and que people when its running. That's the reason most pro movies use a director. He works between the technical side and the acting side and makes sure all are coordinated. When you reduce the crew down to having one man do everything or worse, have that person act too, then you're going to have mistakes as you've made it abundantly clear.

If you do have someone handling the cameras then maybe all you need is some kind of pushbutton LED or lamp for letting the actors know what's going on. Could be a switch that sets on the floor or a table top and when all cameras have been set to record you flip that light on too. If you're cameras work from a remote control and you have three of them, you could Velcro them all to a panel along with the manual recording indicator and take care of them all at once.

I'd probably skip the idea of having the actors view any kind of screens as they act. Its an unnecessary distraction and it isn't their job to worry whether your gear is up to standards or not. They simply need to be told when to roll and when to stop.
Old 16th May 2019
  #7
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Thank you, WRG for your input.

You are certainly right - get a dedicated camera man, for example. That's the problem. Limited resources. We are only shooting interviews with a host and subject with fixed cameras and we just let the cameras and audio recorder / mixer all run for the entire session.

It would be nice to have the third camera the same but it's the others that are the problem as the other two are critical for the final mix in post. Just want something on each of the two critical cameras that says to everyone - all is well - we are recording.

I agree, the subjects should not have to pay attention to the camera status but if each camera has a big red LED on it then the absence of such light during the session will be quite obvious to either the assistant or to the host.

I did an online chat with a big video equipment vendor just for grins to see if they had any thoughts on it and they did not have any ideas.
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