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Bruce's Blog

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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PVC NAB 2011: Markertek VPTR1 Production Trailer

When You Need Remote Production But Don't Have Millions To Spare

By Bruce A Johnson | April 16, 2011

PVC: Markertek VPTR1 Production Trailer from ProVideo Coalition on Vimeo.

Often there is no substitute for remote multi-camera production. Markertek offers a way to make it happen without the multi-million-dollar sticker shock. Read More


PVC NAB 2011: Litepanels Sola ENG Light

A Lotta Light for 30 Watts

By Bruce A Johnson | April 16, 2011

PVC: Litepanels Sola ENG Light from ProVideo Coalition on Vimeo.

Sunguns have come a long way in the last five years. Here's Litepanels latest - with an actual Fresnel lens, focusing and a dimmer to boot. Read More


PVC NAB 2011: Ikan Monitors at NAB 2011

A Quick Tour

By Bruce A Johnson | April 16, 2011

PVC: Ikan Monitors at NAB 2011 from ProVideo Coalition on Vimeo.

Small monitors have come so far, so fast that today it almost seems silly to not use one. Here's a tour of Ikan's monitor line for 2011. Read More


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A DSLR Resurrection

Maybe call it the Canon TK-76?

By Bruce A Johnson | April 13, 2011

On the top: A Canon D5 mark II "digital cinema" rig, enclosed in an Erector-set worth of expensive armor. Included are a battery (on top in back,) a monitor, audio management, and other doo-dads. When I saw the operator shouldering it, I could only think of the first ENG video camera I ever used, which is on the bottom: The venerable RCA TK76, circa the late 1970's.Form factor, folks. If the D5 mark II is the be-all and end-all of digital cinema cameras, maybe Canon should package it like one!Just sayin'. Read More


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A Modest Proposal Regarding Editing Software

...with apologies to Jonathan Swift

By Bruce A Johnson | April 13, 2011

In the beginning, there was Avid...and it was OK. Read More


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First Impressions From NAB 2011

...As I Get Ready To Leave

By Bruce A Johnson | April 13, 2011

It's amazing how much I both look forward to - and simultaneously dread - coming to NAB. Read More


NAB Intro to NX5U Sony NXCAM Covering NAB

Providing you a brief commentary with how I'm shooting NAB

By Scott Gentry | April 12, 2011

Bruce Johnson Sony NX5U Intro from ProVideo Coalition on Vimeo.

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Tantalizing News From Telestream

Apple ProRez Encoding On The PC?

By Bruce A Johnson | March 31, 2011

It's no secret that I am a PC user. I'm very happy with the performance of Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 (and all the other programs in the Adobe suite) on my HP Z800 machine. However, some of my client's end-users are Mac people, and have at different times demanded output in the Apple ProRez codec...,,,which, of course, PCs cannot do. At least, until now, if what Telestream has to say pans out. Imagine my interest when I saw this headline in an email:Telestream Enables Encoding to ProRes on Windows Server ProductsDetails as of now are hazy, and I have asked for clarification. But if this turns out to be what it sounds like, it could be a great step forward in making peace between the Windows and Apple editing camps.Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? What do you think? Read More


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Has Shakycam Finally Run Its Course?

Let's all hope so...

By Bruce A Johnson | March 17, 2011

GREAT review of the new movie "Battle: Los Angeles" by Matt Zoller Seitz at, taking the filmmakers to task for the evil combination of long zoom, short depth of field, and lack of shot stability that equates to nausea for the viewers. Huzzah! Huzzah! Something that has needed to be said for over a decade!Will it make a difference? Doubtful. You see as many faux-Steadicams as decent tripods at NAB, a travesty I expect to continue next month. Anybody want to lay odds?And no, I haven't yet seen "Battle: Los Angeles," but once it hits the Roku I promise to pop a few Dramamine and give it a go. Read More


Something To Check Out At NAB 2011

Crane? Dolly? The FloatCam Is Both!

By Bruce A Johnson | March 07, 2011

DollyCrane Demo from Andrzej Dybowski on Vimeo.

It's just about time to start making a list of what I really want to see at NAB 2011, so when a Facebook post from GearHeads came across linked to this video for the FloatCam, let's just say I was...intrigued. (And nostalgic for my long-since-sold VW Bug Convertible.)Got any stuff you want me to check out for you in Vegas next month? Let's hear it! Read More


A Day In The Life:  Madison WI, 2/18/11

A Day In The Life:  Madison WI, 2/18/11

Not Your Normal Day

By Bruce A Johnson | February 19, 2011

If you have been paying attention to the news at all, you might have noticed that some news is breaking out in our little burg. I'm not going to recap what it is all about, but this story is about how life can change in a hell of a hurry when the world shifts around you. Read More


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Maybe Facebook Is Good For Something After All

SmartSound is giving away free music tracks!

By Bruce A Johnson | February 09, 2011

I'm not really a huge Facebook fan, but I can recognize a bargain when I see one. If you are on Facebook and you "like" Smartsound, they'll send you a free music track on February 15th. Hey, what can it hurt? It's not like they want you to play Farmville or something. Read More


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And Then The Camera Spun Around And Bit Me On The Ass.

An embarrassing admission from a seasoned shooter

By Bruce A Johnson | February 07, 2011

Meet the Sony HDW-790, a 2/3" high-def ENG/EFP camera that records to HDCam (read: Beta-shell) cassettes. This camera - and its two brothers - are the day-to-day field-shooting workhorses for Wisconsin Public Television, where I have worked for the last 23 years. Lately (as in the last 9 years or so) my career path has taken me a bit away from the daily shooting grind, but I still fill in the photography gaps now and again, Keeps you young, dontcha know. Except when it tries to kill you. Read More


So You Think You Have An Original Idea?

Think Again.

By Bruce A Johnson | February 03, 2011

Everything is a Remix from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

Everything is a Remix Part 2 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

Big thanks to Gary Bettan of for pointing out a really interesting take on modern creativity. It's at a site called . A guy named Kirby Ferguson just disassembles two of the most sacred cows of the last forty years - Led Zeppelin and Star Wars - in a funny, deadpan way that makes "This American Life" sound like "Family Guy." And they aren't the only victims here - be sure to hang on through the credits for even more fun! There are currently two episodes out (of a promised four). Even though there are embed links in this post, be sure to go to his site and click on the "Donate" button. This guy deserves a little dough! Read More


What $300 Buys These Days

What $300 Buys These Days

One of those "I sure hope this is true" stories...

By Bruce A Johnson | January 21, 2011

OK, folks, have a look at "Lazy Teenage Superheroes," a funny, really watchable (and slightly NSFW for language) 13-minute riff on science fiction: Read More


Film-Office Tax Credits Scandal!

Wow, this would make a GREAT screenplay!

By Bruce A Johnson | January 21, 2011

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The LED Camera Light Shootout…

...that I wish I had gotten to first!

By Bruce A Johnson | January 04, 2011

A guy named Frank Glencairn, whom I think is in England somewhere, has gone and done what we've all thought about: A shootout between five inexpensive LED sunguns. (OK, so maybe the term "inexpensive" doesn't quite stretch to cover the Litepanels LP Micro, but I digress.) Read More


REVIEW:  Hulu Plus

REVIEW:  Hulu Plus

If this is the future...give me the past, thanks.

By Bruce A Johnson | December 14, 2010

It's kind of hard to believe I started gushing over the Roku box over two years ago... and again here... and here. This little plastic box has really revolutionized the distribution of content, from heavy hitters like Netflix, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League, to middle-level new entrants like the TwiT Network and Revision 3, to seemingly home-grown efforts like Trigger Talk TV and Proud Television. In fact, the Roku Box just passed the 100-channel point, and there doesn't seem to be any limit to what the little box can offer.It's in the wake of this that the folks at Hulu decided to offer their new pay-service, Hulu Plus, on the Roku and several other devices. As a consequence of buying a Roku for my mother-in-law for a Christmas present (shhhhh! Don't tell her!) I got a 1-month free trial of Hulu Plus. What I have seen in the last few weeks doesn't give me a lot of optimism for Hulu Plus as a service.First, the good: Same-week streaming of network programming from Fox, NBC and ABC, the three co-owners of Hulu. This means you can catch up on your "Glee," "Modern Family" and "30 Rock" fixes without a DVR. But sadly, that's pretty much where the good times end.Much has been written about Hulu Plus' allegedly fabulous interface, but really, it seems to me to be much too linear and inflexible, arraying long lists of programs in a horizontal line for you to page through. And while they do have a fairly good selection of network programming, there are many odd omissions (where, for instance, is Fox's "The Simpsons"?) And beyond the network TV fare is a very limited list (about 525 at last count) of B-movies and unheard-of documentaries that weren't very popular in their first incarnations. But worst of all is the inclusion of commercials in a service that you have to cough up $8 a month for. In a previous life, I switched a lot of master control for a network affiliate station. All of us MC switchers knew what was at stake in every break, and we strove to make the flow as seamless and - dare I say it - artistic as possible. If Hulu has any humans inserting the commercials into their shows, I suggest they get replaced immediately. However, I'm quite certain that the closest any beating heart gets to this process is punching a schedule into a computer and pushing the "go" button. Breaks are poorly executed, oftentimes jumping into a show early (in the biz this is known as a "downcut",) sometimes to the point where you miss the punchline of a meticulously-crafted joke in a show like "30 Rock." And as dismal an experience as this is, it is a hundred times worse in long-form programs without defined breaks. One of the few documentaries I wanted to watch in the Hulu Plus list was "For All Mankind", a meticulous recounting of the NASA Apollo moon landing missions. It kind of breaks up the flow of the show when as the Lunar Module is starting it's descent to the Moon, a clumsy cut inserts a commercial for REI. And this happens just about every five minutes! Add to this the occasional video lockup and it makes for an experience that doesn't really merit the $8 per month they are demanding - especially when the new Netflix streaming-only service (albeit without the same-season network TV programming) costs the same, with much better streaming, a much, MUCH larger selection of content, and no commercials.In short, I predict a quick death for Hulu Plus. The service just doesn't justify the expense. Have you tried Hulu Plus out? What do you think of it? Read More


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REVIEW:  Canon XF305 Camera

50 Mpbs = Pretty Pictures

By Bruce A Johnson | November 16, 2010

Photo by Adam Wilt, NAB 2010

It's hard to believe that twelve years have passed since I bought my first DV camcorder. My 1998 purchase? A Canon XL-1. At the time it was just about the closest thing you could buy to a professional camcorder for under $20,000. I remember my engineer-friends sniffing at the XL-1. Their biggest gripe? That DV only recorded 480 lines of video (instead of a full 486,) at only 25 MBit/sec in a 4:1:1 colorspace. "No TV station will ever air that (expletive)," they barked. Boy, were they wrong. Canon kept coming out with updated versions of the XL-1, adding better viewfinders, some excellent lenses, and finally HDV capacity. But somehow the XL-series never seemed to gain the respect among broadcasters that their world-leading"big" lenses enjoy, possibly in part due to perceived "bandwidth bias."Well, Canon has knocked that final issue out of the park. Read More


Let’s Clean Up That Shot - Beforehand!

...Without Actually Moving Anything

By Bruce A Johnson | November 10, 2010

We've all gotten our footage back to the edit bay and found something we didn't want in the frame. Light stand, audio cable, water bottle, you name it. What if we could remove irritants from the picture BEFORE the fact - without actually moving anything? Check the next page for an amazing demo. Read More