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by Bruce A Johnson

A 1981 graduate of the Boston University College of Communication, Bruce A. Johnson got his first job in broadcast television at WFTV, an ABC affiliate in Orlando, FL. While there, he rose through the ranks from teleprompter operator to videographer, editor, producer and director of many different types of programming. It was in the early 1980's that he bought his first computer - a Timex/Sinclair 1000 - a device he hated so much, he promptly exchanged it for an Atari 400. But the bug had bitten hard. In 1987, Johnson joined Wisconsin Public Te...

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REVIEW:  ProDAD DeFishr

Straighten out some of those curves!

By Bruce A Johnson | February 23, 2013

It wasn't that long ago that getting a point-of-view shot was a major undertaking.  About a decade ago, a producer I work with wanted to do a story on the last of the bicycle newspaper delivery boys.  We acquired a bike with a front basket and a rear rack.  Gaffer-taped to... Read More

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The Cure for the Slippery HDMI?

The Cure for the Slippery HDMI?

OK, we have half the solution…

By Bruce A Johnson | December 05, 2012

A few weeks back, I took a look at the Sony NEX-EA50H NXCam camcorder.  Alongside all of its many charms was a “feature” that several of my colleagues pointed out as a big minus:  The fragility and instability of the HDMI plug.  It’s true that in... Read More

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REVIEW:  Vinten Vision Blue5 Fluid Head and Tripod Legs

A Nice Set Of Legs For A Reasonable Price

By Bruce A Johnson | November 20, 2012

Tripods tend to fall into that broad category of items that we never notice when they work, yet can't live without when they don't. And there aren't too many things that can ruin a great shoot faster than a tripod that slips, catches, or doesn't stay put when you want it to. I've used or tested a lot of tripods in my career, and in my opinion Vinten tripods have always risen to the top of the pile, both in initial quality and longevity. The Vision Blue5 is a fairly new addition to the family, and it brings a lot of good features to the party. Read More

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First Look & Semi Review:  Sony NEX-EA50H NXCam Camcorder

The big chips are coming in better packages.

By Bruce A Johnson | October 19, 2012

I'm a TV guy. I've been shooting and editing in broadcast television for over thirty years now, and along with you have seen astounding changes in image acquisition and editing. One thing that caught me way off guard, though, was the sudden ascendance of digital single lens reflex cameras (DSLRs) as a preferred way to capture video. The DSLR's combination of progressive scan and shallow depth of field, made possible by much larger sensors than found in traditional video cameras, really came out of nowhere to capture a large slice of certain types of production. One place you will rarely find a DSLR, though, is in the day-to-day work that television stations do. That's not to say that us TV guys might not want large sensors and dramatic depth of field, but few of us would - or could - put up with the limitations inherent in DSLR operation, not the least of which is the dismal audio sections that most of the cameras have. Dual-system sound may be okay when shooting a scripted production, but in the world of run-n-gun, there are rarely any dedicated audio people anymore. So why can't there be a large-sensor camera with a good built-in audio section? Well, finally...there is. And surprise: it's really affordable. Read More

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Sensor Size Described…

...as best I've ever seen it.

By Bruce A Johnson | October 19, 2012

On the left, a 2/3" Sony HDW-750 HDCam camcorder...on the right, a Sony NEX-EA50H APS-C camcorder.

In the process of writing the First Look on the large-sensor Sony NEX-EA50H camera, I went fishing around the Web for good charts defining actual imaging chip sizes. And this is the best one I found: Read More

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NAB 2012: Trucolor Ohm Space Light

400 watts of LED replaces a 6K? Sounds good to me.

By Bruce A Johnson | April 20, 2012

Next time you need to flood a room with soft light - in whatever color temperature - you should give the Ohm a look. Read More

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NAB 2012: EZ-Jib

EZ to use, EZ on your wallet

By Bruce A Johnson | April 20, 2012

I've always been intrigued by jib arms, and usually put off by their high prices. EZ-FX might have a solution to that problem. Read More

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NAB 2012: Profoto Reflector Umbrellas

The big one in the picture is TEN FEET TALL!

By Bruce A Johnson | April 18, 2012

When I walked past these the first time, I thought they might be antennas left on the Moon to shoot signals back to earth. But a little research proved to me that these are great lighting devices. NOTE: a big "Thanks!" to my colleague Erik Higgs for letting me edit on his laptop while I was in Vegas. Read More

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NAB 2012:  Eizo 4K Monitor

You are going to have to look at your 4K footage on *something.*

By Bruce A Johnson | April 18, 2012

At NAB 2012, when you see a crowd of people clotted around a small booth, it's a sign you should pay attention. The Eizo full 4K monitor I found there was easily one of the most beautiful I saw all week, with a price tag to match. Also: A belated "Thanks!" to my colleague Erik Higgs for letting me edit on his laptop while in Vegas. Read More

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NAB 2012:  T3 Motion Camera Transporter

Kind of an unholy marriage between Ben-Hur and Blade Runner, and super-cool to boot.

By Bruce A Johnson | April 18, 2012

Steadicams have great uses, and some downsides - like severe back strain. Here's a great product that can help you get fantastic shots and keep you out of traction. Read More

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NAB 2012: Epic HD1080 Danger Cam

Another David looking for Goliath?

By Bruce A Johnson | April 17, 2012

Another new-kid-on-the-block aims at the entrenched leader, this time in dangercams. Read More

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NAB 2012: Swedish Chameleon DSLR Shoulder Mount

No, it isn't a lizard.

By Bruce A Johnson | April 17, 2012

There are a lot of DSLR mounts out there, but this one lets you say: "Look Mom, no hands." Read More

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NAB 2012:  PhotoHigher Hexacopter

...can lift a lot of cameras.

By Bruce A Johnson | April 17, 2012

I'm always looking for the next great aerial platform. This looks like a good candidate. Read More

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NAB 2012:  Art Lebedev Optimus Popularus Keyboard

Not only is the Maximus keyboard *not* vaporware...it has spawned a Version 2.

By Bruce A Johnson | April 17, 2012

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NAB 2012: Mini Dolly Slider

For those REALLY low-angle shots.

By Bruce A Johnson | April 17, 2012

Skateboard wheels are in a lot of booths here at NAB 2012, but none go lower than the ones on the Mini Dolly Slider. Read More

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NAB 2012:  Plasticase Nanuk

You gotta love competition.

By Bruce A Johnson | April 17, 2012

Here is the first of a series of videos on products in the "back corners" of the NAB 2012 exibition floor. Hope you enjoy them! In this video, Plasticase takes on an un-named giant. Read More

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NAB 2012: Maybe this means nothing.

NAB 2012: Maybe this means nothing.

Maybe it does.

By Bruce A Johnson | April 16, 2012

Anyone that has attended NAB in the past decade knows that major booth positions change very rarely, either in position or in size. For example, it was a big deal when Sony moved a few years back from dominating the Upper South Hall entrance area to a space near the rear of the Central Hall. And for as long as I can remember, Panasonic has lorded over the Central Hall floor from an elevated position in the middle of the hall.However...This year, those scrappy kids from GoPro have eaten away at almost *half* of Panasonic's space on that tier. It is a stunning sight to see. And in combination with Sony's underwhelming press conference on Sunday, it's hard for a broadcaster to feel too comfortable at this point. Are tectonic shifts afoot? Read More

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NAB 2012:  Sony Press Conference

Memories of things past.......

By Bruce A Johnson | April 16, 2012

Alec Shapiro hosting the 2012 Sony Press event. Sorry about the poor picture, but that's a cellphone for ya.

The annual Sony NAB press conference was held at Las Vegas' Hard Rock Hotel, with a setting that seemed to be a bit less grandiose than previous years. Perhaps this is fitting considering that Sony recently announced as many as 10,000 layoffs coming in the near future. But even without that hanging over the festivities, the announcements made by Senior Vice President for Broadcast & Production Systems Alec Shapiro were less than stellar, and at times even seemed pretty out of touch, at least to an old broadcast hand like me. The overarching theme was "Believe Beyond HD," and near the end of the presentation the spectre of 4K acquisition did rear it's head. However, the first three items presented were not 4K productions, but 3D. Clips from the upcoming programs "Stormsurfers" and hip-hop competition "Battle Of The Year" were projected on a mid-sized screen, but oddly, even with the provided RealD glasses neither clip looked very 3D at all. (And seeing one of the "Stormsurfers" surfers very obviously holding a GoPro camera on the end of a stick suggests, at least, that not *all* of the footage was shot on Sony cameras.) Shapiro opined that 3D was growing by leaps and bounds, but at least in the home TV market, the just isn't true, and might well be a big part of Sony's current financial malaise. The third 3D production mentioned was ESPN's coverage of the X Games, but oddly, no clips were played - and I would REALLY have liked to seen those. Read More

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REVIEW:  Blackmagic ATEM 1 M/E Video Switcher

Dollars To Donuts: Through The Roof

By Bruce A Johnson | March 17, 2012

I've been working in TV stations for over 30 years now. I can trace one of the primary reasons I made this career choice back to a basic fact of my DNA:I love buttons. Read More

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Want To Fly In First Class On Your Next Gig?  Here’s How!

...and it is actually CHEAPER than coach!

By Bruce A Johnson | December 09, 2011

I just got back from a whirlwind cross-country trip for a freelance gig I'm working on. Between me, my field producer and my audio operator, we managed to boil down our equipment complement to six checked bags and three carry-ons. Now prices vary on different airlines, but the way it worked for me was this:We flew USAirways from Cleveland to Phoenix, changing planes in Charlotte. When I got online to check us in the night before, I was resigned to paying $60 in checked bag fees for each of us ($25 for the first bag and $35 for the second, all meticulously packed and weighed to be less than 50 pounds.) However, in the middle of the check-in procedure, a pop-up box asked me if I would like to upgrade my entire party to first class - for $50 each. On USAirways, this upgrade includes TWO FREE CHECKED BAGS. (Bonus: They can then weigh up to 70 pounds.) In the time it took me to click the "yes" box, I had saved $30 overall and managed to get prime seating for the crew, and moved to the head of the boarding queue to guarantee overhead-compartment space for the two cameras and backpack-full-of-computers-and-iPad we were carrying onboard. I call that a bargain at twice the price! Coming home at the end of the shoot from Tucson to Madison, I played the same game on United. Since both of those flights were on regional jets, first class was not offered, but once again the cost of checking two bags and first-call boarding was less than the cost of checking the bags alone. While it is easy to imagine scenarios where this technique may not work (e.g., first class is booked full) it is a trick that I will be trying every time I need to check bags from this day forward.Got any travel tricks of your own you'd like to share? Let's hear them! Read More

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