Product Notes & News

New website at NDIstuff.uk

All the downloads for the ZEN NDI software utilities are now hosted on the NDIstuff.uk website, a new, more mobile-friendly site intended specifically for, well, NDI stuff :)  You can also view all the ReadMe files to learn more about the apps without having to download each one first.

 

No "new" news any more...

There will probably be no further News updates since ZEN Computer Services is 95% closed due to martin's retirement.

 

OLD NEWS

 

Create NDI routing switchers in any size from 6in-2out up to 20in-24out

The ZEN NDI Router had a makeover during the summer of 2018, which includes the variable size creation facility, Routing Preset switch buttons and full Config file load/save capability for quicker restoration of favourite configurations.

 

Colour Gradient Background generator for NDI

Adding to out existing selection of software utilities which make use of NewTek's NDI protocol for production video over local networks, the NDIGradBG app generates 4-way colour gradients in various styles. Download here.


ZEN and Magewell at IBC 2016 - Amsterdam RAI  9-13 September

ZEN will be helping Magewell at IBC 2016

Martin was in Amsterdam for the IBC 2016 exhibition and could be found (for much of the time) on Magewell's booth C79 in Hall 5 (that's at the northern end of the complex, to the right as you enter via the main entrances)

The Magewell booth featured the 4K cards along with the rest of the product range of PCIe and USB3 video capture devices.

There was also a demonstration of NDI,  using a Quad input Pro Capture card to ingest multiple HD input signals and transmit them to a second PC via NDI.

(This was almost 2 years before Magewell announced the introduction of their Pro Convert hardware NDI encoders!)

 

 More from Magewell

 

NOTE: The ZEN office in Salford is usually closed for the duration of IBC in September.



Shaune Harrison Make-up Academy

We had an interesting neighbour, co-located in the same building as ZEN during the late 2010s. Specialising in prosthetics for film & television, the make-up academy will run a range of courses including:-

  • Basic prosthetics & bald caps
  • Casualty FX & wounds
  • Sculpting & life casting
  • Prosthetics & make-up SFX

Shaune is a highly experienced proponent of prosthetics, having worked on films like Star Wars Ep1, Captain America, The DaVinci Code, World War Z, The Fifth Element, Sleepy Hollow, Stardust, The Mummy and the Harry Potter series.

For more information, see shauneharrisonacademy.com

now relocated to the Wirral

Shaune Harrison Make-up Academy


Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera + B4 lens tests

We have a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera on demo, and have been experimenting with various (older) lenses, including building a rig to use 2/3" B4 zoom lenses with the BMPCC. More news and test results here ...

BMPCC - A demo unit of the Pocket Cinema Camera



A short video about lighting in modern office buildings   

Lighting in modern office buildings

Inspired by the techniques shown at the IOV "Shooting the Perfect Interview" Roadshows back in 2009, in this short video Martin talks about, and demonstrates, the benefits of using lighting when filming in modern office buildings. With modern cameras able to get a well exposed picture in fairly low light, it's easy to forget what a difference lighting can make.

 


 
Click on image to enlarge

The changing face of Manchester

Those of you who have bought systems from us in the last few years may be familiar with our "Manchester Skyline" Windows wallpaper image (left) taken in January 2003 (from outside our old premises in Salford Quays). There has been a huge increase in residential building in the city since then, including the Beetham Tower, so we thought we'd offer an updated image from Summer 2006 (right).

Looking back at Caption Generation ...   

Aston keyboard detail Back in the days before microprocessors, Character Generators were members of the Graphics Department armed with sheets of Letraset and cardboard. The finished caption cards were then handed over to the stage crew who acted as "Caption Pullers". For a title caption sequence, cards were stacked in shooting order alternately into two separate piles (like A/B film rolls) and placed on blackboard-style easels somewhere in the studio. Two cameras (and cameramen) would be assigned to shooting the captions, with the Vision Mixer switching between them. As soon as the red light went out on the camera, the Caption Puller would pull the top caption off the pile and the cameraman would frame up on the one underneath.

The more complicated captions were made as a multi-layer cardboard sandwich, with holes in the front layer behind which cardboard tabs could be pulled out to reveal additional text or images beneath. Each one had to be individually made by hand and, with a few exceptions like the opening/closing station logo, could rarely be used again. (read more...)

The art of better sound - when to say "No"  (article on the support page)

For some people, their experience of recording sound starts with making wedding videos or recording other live events. As a sound recordist, youíre there to capture whatever is happening, as best you can. Getting better sound under those conditions usually involves better equipment, or making better use of what youíve already got. But not all shoots are like that, and itís easy to fall into the trap of thinking thatís the only way of working. What Iím saying is that whenever you can have any control over your environment, you should try to make use of it.

Directors and cameramen donít make things easy. Sound is rarely seen as being as important as the pictures, and the soundman is well down the production hierarchy, so you have to learn to be assertive (but tactful). With few exceptions, no-one else on location actually listens to sound objectively. The human brain is remarkably good at rejecting unwanted noise when it suits us, and locations are usually chosen on the basis of how they look, not how they sound. Camera lenses offer 100% rejection of anything out of shot, but microphones don't, no matter how directional you think they are. So donít just accept shooting in a noisy location without exploring the alternatives. Continued - read more...

Note - all prices quoted on this site are UK pounds - ex VAT

What we're about . . .      ZEN is not a traditional Audio-Visual dealer who started selling computers, nor is it a computer shop that also sells video products. You won't get any salesmen giving you the "hard-sell" when you call, just straightforward advice and information - which for some callers is the knowledge that they don't need to buy whatever it is they thought they needed! Above all you'll be dealing with someone with a wide range of experience and knowledge of both PCs and video production. We're not the biggest, nor necessarily the cheapest, but we are one of the longest established computer/video specialists in the UK.

Company history . . .      ZEN was started in the 1980s by Martin Kay, then working for ITV at Granada's Manchester studios, who built his first 6502-based computer in 1979 from an Ohio Scientific kit, bought in the USA whilst working as a Sound Recordist on a film shoot for World In Action. With the advent of the Amiga, which could be gen-locked to a video source, Martin started writing a variety of video-related software. This included subtitling & tele-prompting, ident clocks, scoring software for sports & gameshows, and specialist software to mimic other computer displays for use in TV film dramas like Cracker, Prime Suspect and A Touch of Frost. Martin left Granada in 1993 to concentrate on his computer-video activities with ZEN, following a natural path into non-linear editing systems, for many years the main business activity, although he still maintains an active interest in video production.

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