Tech Tuesday: 5 Cheap Things to Keep in your Camera Bag

Being a filmmaker can be a busy and hectic job and when on set you never know what you might need. Here are 5 cheap things (under $15) to keep in your camera bag to make your life easier:

1. Gaffers Tape

Gaff tape is the videographer's duct tape. Being an industry standard, it is almost as adhesive as duct tape while leaving no residue. Great to have because you never know what you might need it for.

2. Earbuds

Sometimes you forget your headphones, I know I have. Having a pair of earbuds in your camera bag can be a life saver to help make sure you are getting clean audio. Having a small footprint why not just toss in a cheap pair just in case.

3. Multi Tool

I have bent my house key before trying to unscrew a quick release plate, its not fun. Having a multi tool on your person or on your key chain can be a versatile tool for any situation. Also your keys will thank you.

4. Lens Cleaning Kit

Have you ever gotten back from a long film shoot just to see dirt on your lens in every shot? Cleaning kits usually have everything from an air blaster to a microfiber cloth to get your lens clean and spotless.

5. Snacks

While this one may seem like a joke, trust me your stomach will thank you later.

Tech Tuesday: Should you be filming in 4k?

Last week we talked all about what 4k video is. This week we are talking about if you should use it and if so when. And while big budget Hollywood movies and nature documentarians might film in 4k, a lot of the time you most likely will not need it but it is also great in certain instances.

An issue with 4k video is it's file sizes and the processing power needed to edit it. Unless you have terabytes of storage space and a high spec computer to edit with you might have a rough time working with the footage. Even my MacBook Pro can't seamlessly edit 4k footage. Especially if you are just starting out, most places you will post your videos are online meaning people will be watching from a computer screen or phone. Since most people do not have 4k screens they will not be watching your video in 4k anyways.

With all of that said I am not saying do not film in 4k because there are also a lot of great benefits to doing so. One is being able to crop into a shot. If you're end product is going to be 1080 then you can crop into a 4k shoot while editing and not lose much resolution. You can also do this to emulate two cameras for something like an interview. Also if you just downscale your 4k footage to 1080 it will look sharper and have more color data to work with. One final reason to shoot 4k is for the future and archiving. While 4k is not a standard yet, we seem to slowly be heading that way and just as 1080 took over 720, 4k will probably eventually take over 1080. When? Who knows for sure but your footage would still hold up if shot in 4k. This is also a reason you find some people filming in 8k, even if their videos are just ending up on youtube.

So should you be filming in 4k? That is honestly something you have to decide yourself and most likely will very project to project in the end.


Tech Tuesday: What is 4k video?

You seem to see 4k everywhere today. There are 4k tv's, 4k computer monitors, and even most new cameras can shoot 4k video now, including smartphones. So what exactly is 4k video and what if I told you all "4k" is not the same?

When someone is talking about 4k they are referring to resolution size. Full HD video is 1920 by 1080 pixels. The most commonly thought of 4k video or UHD (Ultra High Definition) is 3840 by 2160, four times the amount of pixels in Full HD. Another form of 4k video is DCI 4k. Its resolution size is 4096 by 2160 and is mostly used in the film industry for the wider aspect ratio. The picture bellow can help visualize the different sizes.


Resolution size also isn't the only differences in 4k video. The quality of the video can vary dramatically. 4k shot on your iPhone will look worse than 4k shoot on a Red Epic because of sensor size and bit rate. An iPhone has a smaller sensor size and records at a smaller bit rate than a Red Epic so it's 4k video, while being the same resolution size, will not look as good as 4k shoot on the Red.  

So why would you want to film in 4k? That question we answer next week!


Tech Tuesday: Storing Your Footage

So say you just shot a huge project all day and you're so pumped about it that you are going to start editing it right away. Well before you do anything you should back up your footage. While technology has come a long way in the media field, SD cards and hard drives still can fail or become corrupt. So here are some ways and tips for storing your footage:

1. External Hard Drives

These are a must for any filmmaker. Copying your footage over to an external hard drive ensures it is in a safe place and you can formate your SD card to use again. Preferably you would have two hard drives each having your footage on it for backup purposes. This is almost a must on larger projects especially when clients are involved. The good news is external hard drives are relatively inexpensive these days. Some great brands I have run across are LaCie, G-Technology, and Seagate.

2. RAID Arrays

If you are serious about filmmaking and have a lot of footage you want to store over time then a RAID set up is for you. A RAID or Redundant Array of Independent Disks is the combination of multiple physical disk drives that work together for either data redundancy or performance improvement. There are multiple RAID levels that can be used but most filmmakers will be using either RAID 0 or RAID 1. RAID 0 is all focused on performance. The hard drives work together to be faster but if one drive fails the whole RAID does. RAID 1 stores data on half the hard drives and then duplicates it to the other half so if one drive fails you still have all your data. Your can find RAID Arrays from 2 hard drive slots, to 6 slots, to even more. 

3. Do NOT store and edit off a SD Card

Just don't... They are not designed for that type of use.

4. Back up your back ups

Finally, if you want true security and peace of mind with the safety of your footage back up your footage as much as possible. A hard drive can fail or become corrupt and while you can try to recover the data that was on it, the process can be expensive and is never a guarantee. So its always better to be safe than sorry.

Tech Tuesday: Beginner Cameras Under $1500

Firsts are something you never forget: First car, first kiss, and for people in the video industry first camera. Its the camera you learn the basics off of and even shoot your first projects on. For me that camera was a Canon 70D and it wasn't until recently that I finally upgraded.

So let us take a look at three different cameras that are all below $1500 but still packed with a ton of features and great for your first camera!

1. Panasonic Lumix G85

Coming in at only around $900 the G85 comes with a 12-60mm kit lens and a great all around camera for the price. It shoots 4k and 1080p at 60fps. Being a mirrorless micro four thirds camera it has a crop factor of x2 and packs a lot of power into a smaller body.

Pros: Under $1000, In body Image Stabilization (IBIS), flip out screen, 4k, Unlimited Record Time

Cons: May fall short in low light situations, no headphone jack

2. Canon 80D

At around $1250 the 80D comes with a 18-55mm kit lens to start you off. While this camera lacks the ability to shoot 4k it makes it up in other departments by having canon's dual pixel autofocus (the best in the industry) and canon's beloved color science. It also will shoot in 1080p at 60fps for that slow motion goodness 

Pros: Dual Pixel AF, flip out screen, headphone jack

Cons: 30min record limit, no 4k, 

3. Sony a6500

The a6500 ends up being the priciest on this list costing $1,400 for the body and a 16-50mm kit lens, but that price does come with great features. It can shoot in 4k, 1080p at 120fps, and has multiple video assist features. It also can shoot in the sony S-Log profiles to be able to capture the best dynamic range possible.

Pros: 120fps slow motion, 4k, S-Log, Good in low light, IBIS

Cons: 30min record limit, no headphone jack, screen does not fully flip out


Now the choice is up to you with what you want to start to film with! Each camera has its Pros and Cons and ultimately it comes down to what you like and how you shoot.

PS: If these are still breaking the bank you can also look into their lower models (G7, 70D, a6300 respectively) but know you will probably be losing some features. 



COM/Media Re-Relaunch, Spring 2018

There are lots of exciting things happening in the Communication Studies department as we enter the mid-part of the semester.  Our very first COM Studies Week is less than a month away (March 19-23) with a full slate of events planned: including guest speakers, the women in media panel, and our annual alumni panels (for a full list of events go to 

We are also pleased to announce the re-launch of our COM/Media website and COM/Media YouTube channel.  We’ll be offering weekly updates on happenings in the department, blogs on the latest technology and equipment, links to new student-produced content, and some of our favorite projects from past years.  Look for announcements each week on a variety of social media platforms – including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter – and new content posted to our YouTube channel 

It’s a very exciting time for the COM Studies department and COM/Media.  We look forward to sharing upcoming events and new student projects with you in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, please enjoy our freshly updated highlight reel featuring recent projects from COM/Media students.

Not really Christmas season but...

A few posts ago I wrote about how the Field Video II artistic interpretation project had become a favorite assignment of mine because of the creativity it evokes from students. Watching the evolution from a quizzical stare of uncertainty to the creation of diverse and fascinating interpretations is an incredible process to witness. 

Baby It's Cold Outside is just one of those interpretations that originally tested my own boundaries. While technically it is an interpretation of the album cover featuring the song, thematically the video actually deconstructs the "icky", or even "reprehensible", date-rape subtext of the traditional Christmas song, Baby It's Cold Outside. (Salon). Wow, that's a lot to cover in a short video montage. Noah Harrison, Emily Krochmal and Shanine West convinced me this was a great idea and I'm glad they did. You'll never think of the song the same way again! Baby it's creepy inside...

Screen grab from  Baby It's Cold Outside  - one strange Christmas story! 

Screen grab from Baby It's Cold Outside - one strange Christmas story! 

 Baby It's Cold Outside.

Thanks for reading and watching. Let us know what you think! 

Bill Bolduc, Assoc. Prof., Dept. Communication Studies, UNCW

Downtown & Around

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Some graduates of our program might remember some iteration of your first video production in Field Video I. Regardless of the context, the main goal of most "1st projects" in Field I was to familiarize yourself with the equipment by shooting video relating to some sort of theme. The topics varied widely and virtually all served as great learning experiences for the students. This year several themes emerged including "Downtown and Around" by Robert Seagle and Wesley Elder. While winter-time Wilmington can sometimes seem cold and bare, Robert and Wesley did a great job of capturing some of the architecture and style of the Port City. Combined with a dramatic soundtrack, great time lapse footage and a clever "bookend" edit of the Copper Penny, I think the guys capture the spirit of downtown and around. 

Click here to take a look. Downtown and Around

Drop us a line when you get a chance through our Facebook page (UNCW COM/media or UNCW Communication Studies Grads & Friends). 

Bill Bolduc

Correction 4/13/16 - Robert Seagle was the co-producer/videographer, not Bradley Reynolds as originally indicated.  

Persistence of Time - an artistic interpretation

A few years back I was reviewing a project with a student and noted that one of her shots looked a lot like Edward Hopper's famous painting, NighthawksYou've probably seen it - 3 lonely customers in a city cafe late at night, empty streets, a sense of loneliness. Quite a dramatic painting.

As I reviewed the shot with the student I had an epiphany, "I wonder if there is a way to create project for which students interpret a piece of art?" I tried it the next year and got lots of blank stares at first. But the work produced by the students was amazing - provocative, interesting, and creative. Almost every interpretation is unique and fascinating! Now it's one of my favorite projects for COM480/Field Video II. 

The Persistence of Time by Aki Suzuki and Francesca Giordano is an example of one of these well-crafted art interpretations - from the wardrobe to the performance, camera work and editing - it really communicates a fantastic sense of wonder and confusion. Bravo to Aki and Francesca for this bold interpretation. 

Click title to watch: Persistence of Time

Frame from Persistence of Time by Aki Suzuki and Francesca Giordano.

Frame from Persistence of Time by Aki Suzuki and Francesca Giordano.

COM/media Blog re-launch - spring 2016

What an amazing spring it's been here in the Communication Studies Department in Leutze Hall. Just a few weeks ago we were freezing and the trees were stark against the grey sky. As of today, April 1st, the whole place is popping with green, springtime energy! You know, of course, that that also means semester projects are kicking into high gear and our video equipment cupboards are often bare - with cameras, mics and lights all in heavy use. Whew! You remember those times - the incredible stress of looming deadlines mixed with the excitement of capturing incredible images and sounds...and sensing them all come together into a new creative project.

With the 2016 version of COM Studies Day in the rearview mirror, we're now in the process of updating our Vimeo channels and are excited about what's going on in the department. Our technology is in great shape and the students are working hard so there's lots to look forward to and to brag about. Look for more regular updates on the COM/media blog in addition to student and faculty projects, and commentary from some of your favorite professors.

Let's kick off the spring with this quick look at UNCW from above. Thanks so much to alum Tom Gale for donating our new Phantom3 drone! This montage is from a recent student drone workshop

Let us know what you'd like to see/read in the blog and what you're up to! Please share the blog!

Bill Bolduc and David Pernell

"Creativity takes courage." Henri Matisse