LED lighting panels added to kit

A pair of LED lighting panels have been added to the inventory of lighting gear. These two units from Cool Lux are daylight balanced and can be operated with v-mount batteries. Each have a set of filters to correct to tungsten when used with traditional kit lighting. They can also spread the beam if there’s a need to cover a wider area. In certain conditions these can be used to light subjects outdoors or areas with a mix of lighting. This brings the LED inventory to four instruments and six daylight balanced lights.

New YouTube channel launched

As our collection of original content grows we’ve added a YouTube channel as a destination for viewers. Here you will find a diverse collection of programs intended for a general audience. Many will be non-fiction programs about our community and created using Peter Roof’s strong visual storytelling skills.

“There is still a desire for people to learn more about their community,” says Roof. “And here is now a place they can experience a small piece of their world.”

SInce local broadcasters no longer have a place for this type of material we hope we have provided a new home in a new media age. Please subscribe and watch here.

Mobile phone upgrade

Having a mobile device is essential for small businesses. The Alt Gobo smart phone of choice had been the Blackberry Storm 2 which provided the necessary connectivity for many more years beyond its useful life-cycle. After suffering though a fair share of untimely crashes and random data dumps the time has come to upgrade to today’s iPhone 5s. This will provide the essential connectivity and access to apps that were simply not available on the unsupported Blackberry.

GoPro Hero 3 added to point-of-view camera roster

A third HD miniature camera has been added to the selection of point-of-view cameras. All can be positioned in interesting places to capture the action from a different perspective. The latest addition is the GoPro Hero 3 “Black” edition. The incredibly small camera can capture high resolution video and photos. Using WiFi connectivity the camera can be controlled and viewed remotely. Plans are to use this camera for more time lapse sequences and aerials from many different camera platforms.

Desired shallow depth-of-field with innovative adaptor

Having greater control on the image is desired by photographers. The small imagers in todays HD cameras have a side effect of having a deep depth-of-field where foreground and background are all in focus. Good in some situations but when you want the viewer to look at just one part of the picture it presents a problem.

Many aftermarket manufacturers devised adaptors to use prime (fixed focal length) lenses from cinema and still cameras on these HD cameras. It takes advantage of the larger image area to get shallower depth-of-field images. Letus is one of the leading companies that makes a line of adaptors. This one can accept Canon’s line of “FD” lenses that Peter Roof used earlier in his career as a still photographer.

“I am so delighted to bring my old lenses into a new working life,” says Roof. “They’ve been sitting in my still camera equipment bag for a few decades. Now they get to make pictures again.”

Roof already had a variety of focal lengths and will have a few more to round out the set. Available will be 24, 35, 50, 85, and 135mm lenses good for shooting wide shots, interviews, and tight shots.

New vehicle for fleet

A 2009 Toyota Tacoma is the latest addition to the Alt Gobo fleet. This vehicle replaces the 1994 Toyota 4runner that has faithfully served production needs for more than 15 years. The new truck has a larger cargo capacity. Other features are a larger engine and better fuel economy. Four wheel drive still remains a key capability that ensures crews can get to location in nearly any weather condition (traffic permitting).

Visual storytelling workshop

To tell a story is at the core of any video project, no matter if it’s for non-fiction or fiction shows. In crafting stories the main emphasis is the words but the three day workshop presented by the National Press Photographers Association focused on the visuals. The touring Northern Short Course rarely gets near the Washington area so when it came to Fairfax in March Peter Roof decided it was time to attend. He knew that knowledge and skills gained here can help all of his work.

Sessions attended: licensing, storytelling, police/journalists relations, Final Cut Pro tips & tricks, time lapse, editing style, one-man-bands, and collaborative projects. Many of the presenters didn’t show anything particularly new but reinforced the methods for gathering and assembling essential and special elements for compelling stories. It was good to hear what elements, both picture and especially sound, make for good building blocks for any story. Non-linear edit systems have helped the process for both speed and ease. What is impressive is that these practitioners can make great stories about unplanned events on a short deadline and all in less than 1:30.

Peter has been a member of NPPA since he started as a news still photographer in 1985. Several years later he transitioned to TV news and was delighted that the organization also supports excellence in this craft.

New teleprompter

A teleprompter has been added to the Alt Gobo tool kit. Since most of what comes out of Washington is highly-controlled rhetoric it is essential that the talent get the words right. This prompter is a portable system that mounts in front of the lens. It is suitable for most applications for one person reading to camera about 10 to 15 feet from the lens. It’s small enough to even allow limited hand-held use. It will need to be specifically requested for a nominal rate. Depending on the workload an extra crew member may be needed to run the system.

Glidecam upgrade

The addition of the vest and support arm should make using the Glidecam 4000 Pro system easy to endure more than five minutes. The Glidecam 4000 pro is newly designed with a no-tools telescoping center post, a sleek and light base which allows quick attachment and dynamic adjustment with the counterweight disks. Includes a foam handlegrip, light gimbal and a compact main bearing assembly. The vest helps support the weight of the system and the articulated arm absorbs body movements allowing smooth camera handling.

This stabilization system works gracefully and professionally. Producers will see why the idea of making a camera glide through the air isn't just a dream, it's a reality.

The Glidecam 4000 Pro will easily supports smaller cameras like our Panasonic HPX170. It is quick and easy to set up and balance. Allows unrestricted booming and unrestricted 360 degree panning. This rig should be considered for projects that can use an increase in production values with dynamic pictures.

Note: camera operator shown in photo not included.

More daylight balanced Chimera lighting

A Spiderlight TD5 was added to the lighting quiver. With 5600˚K daylight balanced compact fluorescent bulbs this unit can output the quivalent of 780 watts of light using only 200 watts of AC power. Using a Chimera hood this will provide a soft source of key lighting ideal in situations where the set is in a mixed situation with other natural sources. With the two bulb, 600 watt equivalent unit we already have from the R&D department we now have two sources of soft 5600˚K light.

New Web Site

If you are reading this you are looking at my totally new and improved web site. Please tour the site using the navigation buttons on the left. I’ve included a comprehensive and growing set of sample programs. A complete and current inventory of my comprehensive gear package is detailed under Tools of the Trade. Not many production companies show their rates but you will find mine here. What does “Alt Gobo” mean? Find the answer in the “About” pages. And here in the news page you will find out all about my latest projects, upgrades, and what’s come out of the Research and Development Labs. Stay tuned for essays, commentaries, and tech tips in my “Feed” section.

New rates and discounts

After more than five years at the same low rates Peter Roof has decided to make a slight increase. He believes the new rates are competitive and are slightly below the average for this market. The rates take into consideration his deep experience and the comprehensive set of tools that includes the latest technology and the industry’s top performing legacy hardware. In a practice not common in this business, Alt Gobo will publish the current rates on this website. Clients can use the figures to plan routine projects. Of course, no two jobs are alike and clients are encouraged to contact Alt Gobo with specifics so we can give a more detailed estimate using only the necessary resources.

Along with the increase a unique 10% discount program is being offered. Discounts are available on Alt Gobo resources and clients can take advantage of this program if projects are firm booked in advance. Single-day projects can get the discount if the job is guaranteed ten days in advance. For two and three+ sequential day projects the window is 20 and 30 days respectively. The discount is also available if Alt Gobo has the choice of selecting the production day(s).

Cameras in motion

To enhance production values a mini camera crane has been added to the tool box. This unit can be configured in 8 and 5-foot lengths. Using the smaller Panasonic HPX170 camera also reduces the need for excessive counterweights making the entire system quite portable. For not many dollars clients can add dynamic shots to their production.

Prius added to green up the fleet

A 2008 Toyota Prius has been added to the Alt Gobo fleet. This is considered a “carbon offset” to the 1994 Toyota 4runner, the primary production vehicle. This fuel efficient vehicle will be used on smaller jobs and assignments where crew is working in a client facility. The Prius goes nearly three times as far on one gallon of gas as the 4runner. Both vehicles are equipped with a 600 watt AC power inverter with internal battery. The box is a source of a small amount of AC power and can be used to jump start vehicles if necessary. They are recharged using a small solar panel.

PAL upgrade triples international potential

To increase functionality and reach a larger clientele Alt Gobo's Panasonic HPX170 camera has been upgraded to be switchable to PAL. PAL is an international broadcast standard used in most of Europe and the rest of the world (yellow on map) which operates on a 50Hz frequency. Countries like China, India, Australia, and Indonesia all broadcast in PAL. The North American standard (Japan too) is NTSC (green on map) which is at 60Hz. Twice as many televisions work in PAL than NTSC.
Most nations have, or are developing, digital high definition transmission standards that are similar to what the US implemented in June 2009. Sadly, there is still no global standard. High def material can be recorded in a wide variety of settings and may be able to be converted or output using many different codecs. The technology is still emerging and we have yet to see how material can be exchanged easily. However, having the capability to record in the PAL frequency may streamline that process if going directly to traditional broadcast or post-production overseas.

Big @$$ glass for closer look at distant action

Continual upgrades to accommodate client needs and enhance technical capability happen here at Alt Gobo. Many events covered are speeches at a podium across a large ballroom. To help the HPX170 camera get tighter shots the Raynox HDX9000EX was added to the inventory. This multiplies the focal length by a factor of 1.8x. It threads on the end of the lens and can zoom from a medium-tight to a tight shot. Shorter focal lengths can be shot by removing the extender.

PayPal added to accept credit card payments

To add a new and convenient method for payment Alt Gobo has signed up for PayPal. Through PayPal customers can choose to pay with any credit card or through electronic bank transfer. Customers are asked to indicate their preference and they will receive a special email invoice. New and out-of-town customers (plus projects over $4K) will be required to make an advance payment to confirm bookings. This is an excellent option to speed up the process and reserve the desired resources.