Richard Payne and his pre production Panasonic GH4

Categories: 4K filming 1 Comment

(Above… Myself and Richard presenting a show special at IBC 2013, Amsterdam)
Early days with the Panasonic GH4

I was trained on professional camcorders and if I’m doing a shoot I always take something like a Panasonic HPX250 – it’s familiar, easy to use and produces wonderful results. My DSLR shoots HD, but has always seemed unnatural to use for video. The controls are all in the wrong place, the settings are buried deep in menus, and the aliasing and moiré are simply nasty.

I was concerned that the GH4 might be more of the same. It’s not. All the video controls and settings are exactly where you need them to be. Changing aperture, white balance, and ISO quickly becomes something you can do without taking your eye off the viewfinder. (I’ve barely had to look at the manual).

Talking about the OLED viewfinder, like the OLED back screen, it is incredibly good in terms of resolution and contrast. You can really see proper blacks really clearly and 2 settings of Zebra aid exposure. Focusing is so much easier thanks to both expanded focus and peaking, and shot framing seems totally accurate.  The Auto Focus is scarily fast and accurate and if I was a focus puller I might start considering other employment options having tried the touch focus pulling on the back screen.

Picture Quality

I’ve shot 29 minute sequences of cinematic 4K at 24fps and UltraHD at 25fps (slightly smaller with a more familiar aspect ratio) and at 100Mb/s I’m very impressed. The dynamic range may not be in the Alexa class, but it’s really good (don’t ask me for a figure yet!) and the colour rendition is excellent. Because of Panasonic’s heritage in video, the GH4 lets you adjust gamma curves, master pedestal and other professional camera settings which will help you get the right look straight out of the camera and save time in post.  If you get a chance, play with the 96fps HD mode: silky smooth slow-motion, with replay on the camera!


It won’t be until we get the DMW-YAGHE interface unit and record externally at 10-bit until we can see what the sensor can really achieve. But even at 8-bit, it’s looking very impressive.


We’ve successfully imported and edited footage in EDIUS 7.2 Pro, Sony Vegas and Adobe Premiere Pro CC. One of the advantages of shooting in production codecs (AVCHD and AVC-Intra) is that the files are so much smaller than RAW or intermediate codec. On location it means far less swapping, changing and misplacing memory cards and in the edit suite, it means that I don’t have to invest in lots of new RAID storage.

Note : The GH4 files will also import into FCPX.


I think Panasonic have cleverly avoided a lot of the aliasing issues so common with DSLRs. I’m going to ask the developers how they’ve done it at NAB. It’s my guess that it’s capturing 4K and HD using the sensor in different ways – I want to know if that’s the case and whether that will make a difference to picture quality at different frame sizes. Finally, it struck me that the crop factor is not the same in HD as it is for 4K… Bloggers say it’s 2x for 1080 and 2.3 for 4K. I think we need to have some clarity on this one.


Richard works for Holdan in Technical Development.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Company Ltd

Is 4K Right for Your Next Production ?

Categories: 4K filming 3 Comments


With the last few days of April remaining and the Panasonic GH4 arriving early May I thought I would give my guest writer Bob Miano a space to give us some thought provoking lines on 4K.

Bob “Recently an out-of-town client called asking if I would be willing to help his internal “web guy” with a video production problem.  He wanted to buy a new piece of hardware for their internally produced web videos.  My first question was “What issue are you trying to overcome?”  Long story short, he was trying to fix a pre-production planning problem with hardware.  I told him that he should save his money and then gave him suggestions on how to fix the issue with proper pre-pro planning.  Experience beats equipment every time!

In the coming weeks, months, or year you are going to be asked if you want to shoot in 4K ( is one of the companies that will be asking clients that question).  But is 4K the best choice for your next project?  The truth is, a knowledgeable producer/director (slight plug here for yours truly) can help make that decision easy for you.

If you don’t know what 4K is – frankly, even if you do – you owe it to yourself to walk into a Best Buy (or your favorite technology store) and take a look at a 4K television.  The difference in image quality will blow you away in much the same way High Definition did when compared to Standard Definition.  This little “field trip” will only take a few minutes but will be well worth it.

You may ask: “But how many people actually own a 4K television?”  That’s really not the point.  Let me give you a few reasons why 4K may or may not be the right choice for your next production:

4K is four times the resolution of High Definition!  Yes, that means the images are stunning but it also means that if your end product will be an HD production, capturing in 4K will allow you to “zoom in” to the footage in post.  So, if you are shooting an interview and plan to post in HD, with 4K you’ve essentially captured both a medium shot and a close-up with a single camera.

Another example?  If you want to impress your customers with a gorgeous video playing in your corporate headquarters lobby or bring customers into your trade show booth, a 4K production shown on a 4K television will definitely get their attention!

And of course, if you’re capturing images that you know you’ll want to use again in the future, 4K should give you the most flexibility.

Why wouldn’t you want to shoot 4K?  Well, for one thing, 4K can significantly slow down the post-production process.  All that quality takes more storage, more rendering, more horsepower.  To a certain extent that depends on the camera.  NOT ALL 4K CAMERAS ARE THE SAME!  A select few offer the choice of capturing images in a wide variety of file formats – some are more efficient than others.  This is where it gets tricky and it’s beyond the scope of this simple blog post to explain why one camera is better than another (and why not all “4K” cameras truly shoot 4K).

NOTE: Not to give too much information to my competitors but, depending on the camera and file format, 4K files can be more than eight times larger than what production houses are used to working with – this can cause significant challenges in post production, as well as massive storage issues.  In reality, a project might not need the “extra information” those large files hold – for instance, if you are not considering heavy image grading in post. As a corporate client, you need to be wary when a production house suggests shooting in 4K. Ask about the additional time, costs, and storage involved before you commit.

So here is the million dollar question:  Is 4K the right choice for you right now?  4K is aproduction tool.  Like so many production tools, you need to work with a production company that has the experience and knowledge to pick the best tools for each production – camera, lighting, audio, make-up, etc. – and the experienced production personnel to use those tools. is certainly one good option.

There’s a fitting story about violin virtuoso Jascha Heifetz:  An audience member came back stage after one of his performances and said “Mr. Heifetz, your violin sounded so good tonight.”  He picked up the violin, held it to his ear and said “Funny, I don’t hear anything.”

Guest Writer Bob Miano


For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Company Ltd