DJI Inspire 2 flying at Sunset over Avoriaz, France

Drone Safety: Looking to the future with DJI

This article is a summary and analysis of a DJI white paper, published here. we’d urge everyone to go have a read of the whole thing, as it contains a lot of insight.

The safety issues around drones are a hot topic at the moment. After the incident at Gatwick, the issue got propelled into the public view. This meant regulators, politicians and manufacturers all started weighing in on where they thought the rules should go.

In our view, drones are a major force for good. In recent times, drones have been used at high profile incidents like the Notre Dame fire, as well as being used widely in search and rescue across the world. DJI, the world’s largest drone manufacturer, has stated that at least 231 people have been rescued from danger by their drones alone. Emergency services all around the UK are adopting drones for use, as they offer a more flexible option for an aerial presence than helicopters.

rescue drone usage with watersafe UK
Our MD Sam flying a drone for a search and rescue team

Background on drone safety

The issue of airspace, and hence drone, regulation is one that has been rapidly rising in importance in the past few years as drone use has exploded. This has lead to increasing friction between hobbyist drone users and aviation authorities, as the two groups have a fundamental mismatch of views. Hobbyist drone flyers see it as a hobby, using toys; while the aviation authorities have attempted to apply the same ‘zero risk’ attitude that they apply to the rest of aviation.

This mismatch of views has caused a breakdown in the debate. This breakdown has not been helped in the UK by imposition of rules that are unclear. For example, the rules surrounding flight restriction zones (FRZs) are, at first glance, fairly sensible. If you want to fly within 2nm of an aerodrome, you require permission from the air traffic control (ATC) of that site to do so. However the implementation of these rules is severely lacking. Different ATC units have decided upon different rules, with some issuing blanket bans. In addition to this, there is a completely new set of rules being developed at a European level which will soon supersede the ones developed by national aviation authorities!

The future

DJI have recently released a white paper on what they view the future of drone safety to be. This report aims to chart a way forwards for drone safety. As the market leading manufacturer of drones, DJI has a huge amount of influence in the direction that safety will take.

DJI have always been fast to add safety enhancements to their drones. From obstacle sensors to geofencing, DJI has brought many features to the mainstream of drone usage. In the report they try to look at the data surrounding drone safety, and make evidence led suggestions for moving forwards.

Research by the Civil Aviation Authority has reviewed the literature on the safety of drones below 2.4kg, which accounts for the vast majority of drones in use. They came up with the following key conclusions:

  • It is considered unlikely that a small drone would cause significant damage to a modern turbo-fan jet engine; even if it did, a multi-engine aircraft would still be likely to be able to land safely.
  • The windscreens of small helicopters and light aircraft are more susceptible to rupture if struck by a small drone, even when flying below normal cruising speed.
  • In any event, the best way to reduce safety risk is to prevent any two aircraft coming into proximity in the first place.
drone silhouetted against blue sky
Our Inspire 2, a medium sized drone

The identification problem

A story that you often see in the news since Gatwick is “Pilots report plane has near miss with a drone”. These stories are taken from reports created by the airprox board from pilot reports. Anyone involved in aviation can can make these reports, so if you are involved in a near miss with your drone we urge to to report it.

The reports created by the board try to distinguish between drones, balloons and other small unknown objects, but they acknowledge that identification of small objects by pilots is subjective. They take all reports at face value, and if a pilot has reported something that shows any drone characteristics then it will be filed as such.

This has created a vicious cycle where the reports are then picked up by news channels and reported as dangerous safety issues, even when the involvement of drones is seriously unlikely. This in turn raises awareness of the issue with pilots, who are then more likely to report an unknown object as a drone.

A image circulation on pilots forums and facebook groups.

DJI’s drone safety recommendations

DJI came up with 10 key recommendations to improve drone safety:

  1. Install DJI Airsense (ADS-B) receivers on all new drones above 250g
  2. Create a system that warns drone pilots when they fly their drones too far away
  3. DJI will establish a international standards group for ensuring drone reliability
  4. Aviation groups must develop standards for reporting drone incidents
  5. All drone manufacturers should install geofencing and remote identification
  6. Governments must require identification
  7. Governments must require a user friendly knowledge test for users
  8. Governments must clearly designate sensitive restricted areas.
  9. Local authorities must be allowed to respond to drone threats that are clear and serious
  10. Governments must increase enforcement of laws against un-safe drone operations

Our thoughts

On the whole these recommendations seem like a fairly well balanced suggestion to move forwards. Quite a few of them are already being implemented in the UK, such as the registration (for identification) and basic user testing. We are also lucky that restricted areas are well publicised and marked on a variety of different mediums. The police have also been given new powers, although a lot of forces are very unaware of this.

The technology suggestions that DJI makes are also sensible, however the ADS-B receiver suggestion may not be as useful as it first appears, as many light aircraft (the ones most at risk from drones) do not transmit the ADS-B signals.

Perhaps the most important suggestion is the increased enforcement. This is something that a lot of UK commercial operators have been crying out for. Awareness of the rules surrounding drone flights must be raised with UK police forces, and more action needs to be taken against those who are blatantly breaking the rules in an unsafe manner. To be quite honest, I don’t think people care that much about ‘technical’ breaches of the rules that do not damage safety. The main issue is that people are performing extremely unsafe flights, and posting the footage all over social media without any threat of censure. Without enforcement of the current rules, further restricting drone flights will only affect people who fly by those rules.

What are your thoughts on DJI’s proposed rules (or drone safety in general)? Let us know in the comments!

Why brands need to pay attention to culture driven video adverts in 2019

Having a favourable brand image is no longer enough in 2019. Consumers are demanding visible cultural engagement from their favourite brands.


Cultural authenticity is now driving at least 25% of purchasing decisions in 2019. Increasingly for 83% of consumers, culture has gone beyond the traditional customs, languages, religions and cuisines that have so far defined it.

For today’s Millenial and Gen Z consumers particularly, being inclusive of all types of people is now more important than ever for brands looking to be culturally relevant.

Brands with a high cultural relevance are now preferred by 39% of consumers, compared to 32% for brands with a low cultural relevance.

Despite the huge growth in influencer driven marketing, simply being well known or having a large following, is no longer enough to be deemed culturally relevant.

Overall 58% of consumers now agree that brands now need to be seen as giving back or supporting social causes to really make an impact.

Consumers want to know their money is going to companies that share their values and support the same things that they do.

So how do culturally focused video adverts that integrate current events, trends and issues perform in relation to standard product centric adverts

So how do culturally focused video adverts that integrate current events, trends and issues perform in relation to standard product centric adverts

Studies show that culturally focused video ads succeed in positioning brands as 7% more culturally relevant, 6% more socially responsible and 5% more innovative simply by changing the message and narratives associated with the brand.

In fact, culturally focused video ads were shown to be 56% more memorable than conventional ads. 11% of consumers said they would pay more for brands with more culturally focused video ads. This highlights the emotional connection consumers have with brands who can capture cultural relevance.

The most effective culturally focused ads give a real reason for consumers to finish watching the advert and not simply click skip. They encourage evocative and emotional attachment to the video advert’s narrative; consumers almost forget they are watching an advert. 75% of people who finish a culturally relevant advert say they would purchase from the brand and 48% say they would pay more for it.

Culturally relevant video ads perform best when targeted at consumers between the ages of 16-34, particularly on platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube and even LinkedIn.

The strongest ways for brands to be culturally relevant is to become charitable or inclusive. Helping local communities, supporting social causes and representing  everyone’s differences, calls for acceptance and equality amongst all.

How have brands incorporated culture into their advertising and how has this been communicated in video?

Many brands have focused a significant amount of their strategy on taking a stand; they place themselves at the forefront of social issues, alongside their audience, to challenge standard advertising trends.The adverts produced not only aim to contribute to culture, but also broadcast messages that resonate with their audience.

For instance, H&M Autumn 2016 Season campaign positively acknowledged women as not always being prim and proper. Their advert was successfully celebrated as it depicts many women with an array of personalities, body shapes, sizes and ages. This aligns with the brands ethos and social messaging.

Sporting advertising has also championed social change in their content. For example, the #LikeAGirl campaign which challenged the social norms of behaviour towards what girls can and can’t do and the “I Will What I Want“ advert, which confronts and redefines female behaviours and body diversity.

One of the greatest recent examples of a culturally focused video advert that really connected with its target audience is Nike’s – Just Do It: Caster Semenya campaign.

Whilst originally released on the 10th September 2018, it has now become even more culturally relevant. On the 1st May 2019, South African Olympic champion Caster Semenya lost her case against the International Association of Athletics Federation which ruled to restrict testosterone levels in female runners. This caused controversy around the world but particularly in  South Africa. Nike re-ran the advert across it’s channels on announcement of the ruling.

With Caster’s voice narrating the video, she opens by saying “Would it be easier for you if I wasn’t so fast? Would it be simpler if I stopped winning? Would you be more comfortable if I was more proud? Would you prefer if I hadn’t worked so hard? Or just didn’t run? Or Chose a different sport, or stopped at my first step. Well that’s too bad! Because I was born to do this.

Off the back of the recent ruling, and true to Nike’s philosophy of ‘Just Do It’,Caster’s powerful narrative became a direct defiance in the face of those who would see her stop running.

With over 12 million views and a real connection with passionate culturally relevant consumers Nike especially also captured the emotions and brand loyalty of many South Africans and champions of her cause.

What should brands look out for when looking to achieve cultural relevance?

Overall, consumers now expect brands to interact with culture, especially social issues. To stay relevant and keep up with competitors, brands need to keep culture at the forefront of their video advertising.

However, one size does not fit all. Brands need to be conscious of their authenticity and align their position to causes and campaigns that really speak to their target audiences. They also need to assess the risks around disapproval, and whether their position may antagonize other groups who oppose it.

One company who has really been able to speak to its target market has been Cosmetics company Lush, with it’s cruelty free sustainable cosmetics. However, Lush also made a calculated risk with it’s Spy Cops campaign which divided opinion and got a lot of negative publicity. Therefore, brands need to be wary and make a good assessment of the impact of which causes they support. The more politically charged the greater the risk and vice versa.

Indeed, sometimes it may completely backfire and become culturally insensitive. For example, the controversial PepsiCo’s 2017 ad featuring Kendall Jenner, which underplayed the importance of social justice movements, which resulted in PepsiCo issuing an apology and pulling the advert.

From this, adverts going forward should not shy away from the topic of becoming culturally relevant. Adverts should be well thought out and aim for authenticity; refusing gimmicks and trends.This way, they will be able to reach wider audiences and earn their loyalty, as they will gain respect for not just their brand, but their message.

Source:

Magna-IPG Lab – Impact of Culture

What makes good sound design?

Sound is an often overlooked aspect of video and film production. However, we strongly believe it is of equal importance to the visual elements, in terms of the overall effect it can have on the audience. Good sound design can really enhance the production value of a video, while bad sound design can make ‘Hollywood’ visuals feel cheap. We sat down with our production team to come up with a few key points to remember for top notch audio.

Interviewing Theo Paphitis in Nottingham

The audio does not need to dominate

With audio and sound design, often an approach of ‘less is more’ is best. Using carefully placed effects leads to a more realistic, engaging soundscape that does not overwhelm the audience.

The audio leads the emotion

The audio in a scene really leads the audiences emotion. Think of a film or TV program, where the score and sound effects guide you to feel the emotion that the director intended.

Audio recording and mixing

Getting the technical side of audio right is important; at the very least, it makes life a lot easier in post production. Audio should ideally be recorded at around -6 db, as that leaves room for effects and filters to be added in mastering. The master audio mix for the video should not be allowed to peak; it should be kept below 0db, but not by too much so it does not sound overly quiet.

Matt (far right) using an external recorder to capture environmental sounds

Recording audio

There are a myriad of different ways to record your audio. On-camera audio is good as a reference, and can be a good backup for environmental sound effects. However, the best way to record audio is on a separate recorder, as it allows for more fine control over the recording. Don’t forget that additional audio can be recorded after production wraps – this kind of audio is often key to producing a realistic soundscape. It also leads to amusing scenes; you will often find people knocking random objects together while wearing headphones and a look of deep concentration!

Example Project

We often use a lot of sound design in our festival videos. A good example of this is Snowboxx 2018:

Looking back at the 2018/19 winter season

Now that it is starting to feel like summer, we thought it would be a good time to look back at the successes and stories from the winter. Winter sports has always been a major part of life at DGTL with Sam, our MD, having pioneered the current media craze in student snow-sports.

One of the team in Avoriaz

Headline Stats

From our first trip back in November, to our last project in April we have:

  • Completed 7 major projects, including 2 festivals
  • Completed 168 days of staff time in resort
  • Captured nearly 6TB of video and photos
  • Travelled over 10,000 miles to projects
Sam on stage at Snowboxx

Staff Season Highlights

We went around some of our staff who have been in resort and asked them for their highlights of the season:

My personal highlight this season was the three weeks between 23rd March and the 13th April. We had our second year of filming with Snowboxx Festival and our fourth with Newcastle Snowsports. Both of these clients trust us to do our job professionally and give us creative freedom to express ourselves within the parameters of the brief. The content we produced, and are still producing, has surpassed any previous year’s work and we’re proud of the job we have done.

Sam, Managing Director

Taking a break on a shoot

In January I headed out to the French Alps, along with Sam and Martin, for a 4 day shoot with Crystal Ski Holidays (a subsidiary of TUI) to produce content for their 2019/2020 marketing campaigns. At DGTL we love a challenge, but it is also great when a plan comes together…

As a team, we have a lot of experience in working in alpine conditions, but some things are simply out of our control; predominantly the weather! With pre defined dates, models booked and flights arranged all we could do is keep our fingers crossed.

We were lucky; with a massive dump of early January snow and 3 bluebird days, Avoriaz was in its element. It was a joy to work with a team that brought so much professionalism and fun to the project. We had been dealt a lucky hand but still strove for innovative perfection – something I think is evident in the final images.

Amelia-Kate, Producer & Client Services Director

Matt filming at Snowboxx

The highlight for me this season was working again with Surrey Snowsports. Over the last 3 years I’ve been making their trips edits and so it’s always nice being asked back. They put forward ideas, I put forward ideas and together we managed to pull together a pretty sick edit. Developing a good working relationship always helps with something like this as it helps you understand the client’s vision for the video and also allows clients to trust in your judgement for making things look good.

After getting to know the group for the last 3 seasons we were able to have a laugh along the way, and make the filming process less of a task and more of a bit of fun. The weather thankfully was reasonably kind to us, meaning we had decent snow and semi decent weather during the week which makes filming a hell of a lot nicer. Nobody likes filming in a whiteout! Overall it was a super collaborative process and it was my job to pull all the different bits of the trip together into a cohesive edit. Cheers Surrey.

Matt Greenwell, DoP

Example Projects

NUSSC 2019
We produced a range of high end content for one of the UK’s biggest student snowsports clubs

Crystal Ski Holidays Brand Photoshoot
We created a set of fresh content sufficient for three years of marketing campaigns for the leading UK snowsports travel specialist.

Gillette’s art director made their advert more “controversial” to you

Angry men are attempting to flush their buoyant razors down the toilet in protest. Why?

It’s been a big week for Gillette. They released a new film promoting a new brand direction, “the best a man can be”. The spot has been praised for being “brave, meaningful and real” – however a vocal group felt that the advert is a direct attack on men. As a result, boycotts of Gillette products have been called for.

Did Gillette realise how polarising this content would be?

Yes.

Gary Coombe is President for P&G’s Male Grooming arm. He believes that the time is right for Gillette to join the dialogue on “modern manhood”. Coombe – who also sponsors P&G’s European Gender Quality, Diversity, and Inclusion Groups – responded that, “celebrating men who are doing things right” was “an easy choice”.

Gillette have been criticised by some. This advert has potentially alienated a not-insignificant sized audience. However given Coombe’s statements, it’s likely that they chose to visit these darker sides of modern masculinity in order to deliver a positive, emotional message about accountability and role-modelling.

So we want to tell a controversial story about modern masculinity. After developing a script, the next step is to look at visual language to reinforce the messaging and make it more memorable.

Gillette’s approach to visual language.

Let’s take a quick look at 20 seconds of this advert (0:09-0:29). Starting with the imagery, and diving deeper into cinematography, visual methods, and production design.

On the surface, it seems that Gillette is using dramatic imagery to engage the viewer. Fighting children, weeping mothers and unchecked lewd television are all uncomfortable topics to face. Juxtaposing this action with shots of apathetic onlookers keeps audiences watching in horror as a narrator sets out the opening argument of the film.

These dramatic images are exaggerated using visual language.

Cinematography; sharp lighting and a neutral-cold colour palettes reflect the contrasting ideals being displayed.

Disruptive visual methods; on-screen movement effecting overlaid graphics, and whip cuts
heighten the uncontrollability of what is being shown.

Production design; a literal 4th wall break, and careful physical placement of the sets ensures there is enough “bleed” between the scenes to unsettle the viewer.

Once the dust has settled, what will Gillette have achieved?

Adverts which spark discussion and demonstrate social awareness are proving valuable tools to marketers. With the quantity of conversation generated, Gillette has shown us how to capture the attention of the masses – who, unlike the audiences represented in the opening of Gillette’s story, may not be so passive anymore.

Sony A7iii first impressions

As a company we have always previously used Canon DSLR’s such as the 5dmkii and 6d for stills photography, along with Canon L-series lenses such as the 70-200 ISII. However, for our video work we use Sony cameras such as the A7Sii and FS5. We recently made the decision to move our stills to the Sony system as well, and purchased the latest mirrorless from Sony, the A7iii, along with Sony native lenses. We’ll be using the camera for video projects as well going forwards, but for now I wanted to share some thoughts on the A7iii as a stills camera.

The first impression that I had of the camera was that it feels a lot more substantial than the A7sii. It has a reassuring heft to it, without being overly heavy. The other thing that jumps out is the inclusion of a joystick on the back of the camera – something that I really love for selecting focus points.

Positives

Sony have also made a load of other really useful changes to the camera. Perhaps the biggest one is using new, larger, batteries. These ‘z series’ batteries are physically much bigger than the older Sony A7 batteries, and last for much, much longer. Shooting sports I took over 1500 RAW images, and the battery was still above 50%. Another really useful change is that Sony have added a second memory card slot, allowing for images to be backed up on the fly.

The AF performance of the camera is fantastic. The points cover the entire frame, and tracking is super impressive – it is almost magical how well it locks on to and tracks moving subjects. The face detection feature has a really quite uncanny ability to see through distractions and lock focus on faces, which is really useful in fast moving sports. The focus speed with the 70-200 F4 G is good, while it is maybe not quite as fast as the Canon 70-200 on a 5diii the tracking ability more than makes up for it.

Another super useful feature of the camera for sports is the frame rate. It will shoot at 10fps while maintaining the awesome AF tracking, which is super impressive for a camera of it’s price point. You don’t have to worry about hitting the buffer either – it is around 89 images, but feels much deeper if you are using an UHS-II card.

The image quality from this camera is very, very good. The RAW files have a huge amount of flexibility, even if you push the ISO up. If you need to push the ISO super high then it still manages to produce really good quality images, maintaining colour and dynamic range well.

Negatives

The Sony menu system remains as confusing as ever – trying to find the option you want to change means scrolling through pages and pages of options!

Overall

I’m impressed by the Sony A7iii – previously I haven’t been the biggest fan of Sony’s mirrorless cameras, finding the battery life etc to be a bit lacking. The A7iii has really improved on this, with the camera now beating out it’s DSLR rivals in areas that were once no-go’s for the Sony mirrorless cameras.

We’ll share some more thoughts on the A7iii, and thoughts on using it for video, in the future.

ProRes RAW Announced – a more manageable RAW workflow?

Yesterday Apple announced an update to Final Cut Pro X that included as a main feature a new flavour of ProRes, ProRes RAW. This is claiming to combine the flexibility and visual benefits of RAW video files with the performance benefits of ProRes, all in a file format that is smaller than ProRes 4444, the previous highest quality version of the Codec.

As with RAW still images, RAW video offers more latitude for making adjustments to colour in post, capturing greater dynamic range and more bit depth than consumer formats like H264. Unlike other RAW formats, ProRes RAW uses a form compression to keep storage requirements minimal. It supports multiple resolutions in 12-bit color and a data rate of 80 to 140 megabytes per second. 4K video can be recorded up to 120 frames per second, and can record 2K up to 240 fps.

 

DJI has been one of the first companies to announce compatibility for the new format, with new firmware announced for the Inspire 2/X7 combo to enable use from May 2018. The Zenmuse X7 already has fantastic image quality, and this upgrade will make the workflow on higher quality files a lot more efficient.

Cinema cameras from the likes of Sony, Panasonic and Canon will also be able to take advantage, as Atomos has announced that it will add the capability to use the new format via a free upgrade to it’s shogun inferno and Sumo 19 recorders within days. This means that most cameras with the ability to output RAW over SDI, like our own main production camera the FS5, will be able to take advantage of the new codec. The list also includes cameras such as the Canon C300k Mark II/C500, FS7/FS7 II/FS700 and the Panasonic AU-EVA1 and the Varicam LT – in case of the EVA1, that means ProRes RAW with a hugely impressive 5.7K resolution is supported.

ProRes RAW could be a really big step forward in the general usability of RAW footage. While the quality benefits have always been there, the increased complexity and computer power requirements of the workflow have been off putting for many. Bringing together the flexibility in post of RAW and the easier workflows of ProRes could be an amazing combo – it really depends though how much of the RAW flexibility is retained by the ProRes compression, and that is something that won’t be seen until people start getting their hands on footage. The other aspect is that it is currently only a FCPX feature – how long will it take Adobe to add compatibility for ProRes RAW in Premiere, given it takes them a while to update lightroom for new still RAW formats? Let us know what you think.

 

 

 

How to Rig a Character in Adobe After Effects | dgtl Workshop

Hello and welcome to dgtl Workshop! In this tutorial, I’ll be explaining how to rig a basic character in After Effects using a tool called Duik (which you can download from their website for free). Through this tutorial you’ll learn how to rig your own characters and discover how useful a rig can be.

What is Rigging and why would you Rig a Character in Adobe After Effects?

Rigging is where you take a character and give them a digital skeleton that consists of joints and bones. It’s through the use of the rig, that animators can easily bring characters to life with less hassle. In general, rigs can vary from being simple to extremely complex and intricate. How complex your rig will be shall usually depend on how much control you need and the time you wish to spend making it.

The videos below should give you some great insight on how it all works:

Getting Started

The first task you will need to do is open Adobe Illustrator and create a character. If you’d like to find out how to make a character in Illustrator, check out our dgtl Workshop tutorial on how to do so here. It’s easy to follow and should be useful for new Illustrator users! (Apologies if you don’t have the software, as this tutorial won’t be showing how to rig pixel-based characters.)

Finished Character Design

Once you’ve finished making your character, the next task you’ll need to do is launch After Effects and import them in to a new project.

Importing a Character

Upon importing the file, a new screen will pop up showing some settings. Make sure the Import Kind is “Composition” and the Footage Dimensions is “Layer Size”. By having these settings, the character will be imported as it’s original size.

Opening a character composition

Now that the file has been imported, a new composition will have been created. Open it up and you’ll see the character with all of their layers at the bottom.

Creating shapes from vector layer

Select all of those layers and right click on them. A big list will pop up and a button will appear that says “Create Shapes from Vector Layer”. Click on it and the software will convert all of the layers in to shapes. Once that’s done, your layers will be compatible with After Effect’s vectors (in other-words they won’t blur when resized inside the project).

Removing the illustrator layers

The software will still have your Illustrator layers, so feel free to make your workspace tidy by deleting them until you are left only with the blue layers.

Adding Bones to the Left Arm

With your character’s layers prepared for rigging, we can begin to give one of the character’s arms some bones.

Selecting the Puppet Tool

You can do this by selecting the puppet tool in the upper left corner and changing Expansion to “1” and Triangles to “200”.

Altering the Triangles

Adding Pins to an Arm

When the settings been configured, you can begin to click on 3 points of the character’s arm: These would be the shoulder, the elbow and the hand/wrist. Each point is very important, as they’ll be the joints for the arm. For example, if I didn’t add a point in the middle of the arm, I would be unable to bend it.

Launching Duik

Just incase you do not have Duik launched, you’ll need to head over to the “Window” button at the top and click on it. Somewhere in the dropdown menu at the bottom, you should see “Duik.jsx”. If you do, launch the plugin by left clicking on it.

If you can’t see Duik in the list however, then you might have incorrectly installed the plugin. I would suggest reading the guide (page 10) to check that you followed the installation process correctly. If you are still having issues, then the forums would be a good place to ask for help. When you have Duik working, you can move on to the following step.

Creating Bones for the Arm

Select the shoulder, the elbow and then the hand/wrist. Go to the Duik panel and click on the option that says “Bones”. From then on it should have converted your pins into 3 connected joints.

Renaming the Joints

Rename the joints to the part of the arm their connected to, as this should make the layers clearer to identify.

Implementing a Controller

First, select the wrist/hand and head on over to the Duik panel. Look for the “Controllers” button and click on it.

Opening the Controllers page

Inside the page you should see quite a few options – For example, you can change the size of how big you want the controller to be and it’s colour. Additionally, the page will include some tick boxes that dictate whether the controller can rotate, move side to side, move up and down or have it’s size altered.

Altering the controller settings

Since this controller is for the arm, you will only need to move it around – So only tick the directional boxes and untick the rest. Click on “Create” and a new controller should appear where the wrist/hand is located. However, before you can connect the controller to the bones, you’ll need to parent them in this order: hand/wrist parented to elbow and elbow parented to shoulder. It’s through parenting the joints in this order, that the plugin will understand that you’d like to control the limb from the hand/wrist upwards.

Selecting the Controller and the Joints

Next, you’ll need to select the wrist/hand, the elbow, the shoulder and then the controller. Click on the IK button and select the 2-layer IK & Goal option.

Creating a 2-Layer IK and Goal

Hit the create button and drag the controller around – The joints and controller should be connected, as they can bend and stretch as you move the controller.

Testing the Controller

If the arm is not bending in the right direction and or you don’t want the arm to stretch, simply open up the effects on the arm’s controller. Toggle the elbow’s “Clockwise” setting as this will determine which direction the arm bends. As for removing the stretch, you can turn it off via the “Auto-Stretch” setting.

Turning off Auto-Stretch

With that taken care off, make the red joints invisible and select the controller. In the Duik panel go to the controller page and click on the lock.

Locking a Controller

Once the lock is active, it should prevent you from accidentally rotating and or resizing the arm.

Testing the Lock

As for the other arm, you can repeat the same process you just carried out.

Repeating the rigging for the other Arm

Now with both arms rigged, you should have something like the image above:

  • No red joints visible
  • Both arms controllable
  • All of the controllers locked – E.g. only able to move, no resizing and rotating is possible.

(If this is not the case, go back and check that you didn’t miss/misread any of my instructions. If you still can’t get your arms to work, feel free to leave a comment asking for help below.)

Creating a Digital Spine

Not all characters need a spine, but a spine can be useful if you would like to make your character bend over or to have more emotion in their actions. For the sake of not over complicating this tutorial, I will only be showing how to make the spine tilt their upper or lower torso only.

Creating the Joints for a Digital Spine

Just like the arm, create 3 joints – Starting from the shoulders to the stomach and then to the waist. You would do this by creating 3 pins and then transforming those pins in to bones.

Adding a the IK Bezier to the Spine

Once the joints are created, parent them from the shoulders to the waist (tilts upper torso) or the waist to the shoulders (tilts lower torso) and then select them in the order you carried out. After that, open up the IK Bezier page in Duik and select the “Simple” option. Hit the create button and you should see a controller appear on the torso.

Configuring the Spine

For my character, I only want the torso to tilt, so I’ll select the controller and go to the controllers page. Inside I can untick the column of boxes and tick the side to side direction box. With some colour changes, size alteration and clicking the lock button, I’ll press the update button and the controller should receive the changes I’ve made. The next task to do is to change all of the joints in to being invisible.

Testing the Spine

If you are already playing around with the torso’s controller, you have might have noticed that when you tilt the torso, some of the limbs don’t move. This is because we have not parented them to the torso. This will be covered later, once all of your character’s limbs have rigged.

Making a Rig for the Tie and Legs

To add some more detail to my character, I will rig the tie using the same process I just carried out with the torso.

Adding joints to a tie

After that, I will rig the character’s legs using the same process I used for the arms.

Rigged Legs

With all of the red joints made invisible, your character should look something like this.

Attaching a Controller to the Head

The final part of my character to rig is the head. This is the easiest part to rig out all of the limbs in this tutorial, as the head does not require any bones/joints.

Using the Pan Behind tool

To start off, hover over the Pan Behind tool in the upper left bar and select it. Go straight to the character’s head and reposition the anchor point to where the head will tilt. For example, the neck is a great place for the head to rotate around.

Rigging the head

Once you’ve done that, create a controller with the ability to only rotate and move up and down. Parent the head to the controller and then lock the controller using the Duik panel.

Parenting all of the character rigging

With all of the rigs now complete, the last thing I need to do is to parent all of the limbs to the torso. So for example, I’ll parent the shoulder joint on the arms to the torso’s shoulder joint. Next I’ll parent the thigh joint on the legs to the torso’s waist joint. After that, I can parent the upper tie joint and the head’s controller to the torso’s shoulder joint.

Finished character rig

Once you’ve parented all of the limbs, your character is now ready to animate and pose like my character above! It’s not easy to rig a character for the first time, so ask me for help in the comments if you are struggling!

Example Animations using the Rig

For those who have completed the rig for their character, the gifs below should prove useful for some animation inspiration:

Animated Cave Troll

Animated Scarecrow

Thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed this tutorial on rigging a character in Adobe After Effects, then go and check out our dgtl Workshop tutorial on drawing a character in Adobe Illustrator!

What would you like us to cover next? Feel free to let us know via social media!

Panasonic GH5s Vs Sony A7sii

At CES Panasonic announced a new Micro 4/3rds mirrorless camera, the GH5s, replacing the GH5 as Panasonic’s top m4/3rds video offering. With the new GH5s, Panasonic have stopped trying to satisfy two audiences at once, and have focused purely on creating a camera with the best possible video quality in a small portable body. This has been made easier by the release of the Panasonic G9, a stills focused m4/3rds body.

The biggest change that Panasonic have made is a new 10.2 megapixel sensor, rather than an updated version of the GH5’s 20.3 megapixel sensor. This lower resolution sensor has much larger pixels on the chip, greatly increasing it’s light gathering abilities and hence low light performance. This change is shown in the new cameras ISO range of 160-51,200 (extendable to ISO 80-204,800). This makes it a truly impressive low light performer, which is especially impressive given the small physical size of the sensor.

As well as the impressive ISO range, the GH5s steals a trick from it’s bigger brothers in the panasonic varicam range, with Dual native ISO meant to enable higher frame rate capture with lower noise levels when ambient light is low.

Another large feature change is the removal of in body image stabilisation, which is potentially a nod to how this smaller camera is often used in productions mounted to rigs or taken aerial on drones, when IBIS cannot keep up.

The GH5s can record 4k at up to 60fps, along with high frame rates of up to 240fps. In addition at 4k up to 30p, the camera can record in 4:2:2 10 bit colour. For a full list of the recording options and bitrates, check below.

Other important features for videographers include a clean HDMI output, a preinstalled LOG shooting mode (rather than £80 as with the GH5), and ability to shoot with, and generate a timecode for shooting with multiple cameras.

The new GH5s will cost £2199 when it is released which, along with it’s feature set, places it squarely up against another heavyweight small body video camera the Sony A7Sii.

Sony A7sii Vs Panasonic GH5s

The Sony A7sii is the current king of low light videography, at least in small body sizes. It’s large full frame sensor allows it to pull in huge amounts of light, while being small and nimble. It’s currently one of our go too cameras, and lots of the shots in our showreel were done on this camera, especially those in tricky low light situations such as festivals.

We’ve listed the video related specs of the two cameras below for comparison, and have a conclusion underneath.

SpecificationSony A7siiPanasonic GH5s
 Sensor Size 35mm full frame (35.6 x 23.8mm),3:2 Aspect Ratio 17.3 x 13.0 mm (in 4:3 aspect ratio)
 Image Sensor Pixels Approx.12.4 MP 10.28 Megapixels
Image StabilisationImage Sensor-Shift mechanism with 5-axis compensation (Compensation depends on lens specifications)None
 Recording file formatXAVC S: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264; AVCHD: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264; MP4: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264MOV: H.264/MPEG-4 AVC (Audio format: LPCM (2ch 48kHz/16-bit, 48kHz/24-bit*, 96kHz/24-bit*)) *When attaching DMW-XLR1 (sold separately)./MP4: H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, H.265/HEVC (Audio format: LPCM (2ch 48kHz/16-bit), AAC (2ch))/AVCHD Progressive, AVCHD (Audio format: Dolby Audio 2ch)
 Image Size (movie)AVCHD: 1920 x 1080 (50p/28Mbps/PS, 50i/24Mbps/FX, 50i/17Mbps/FH,25p/24Mbps/FX, 25p/17Mbps/FH), MP4: 1920 x 1080 (50p/28Mbps, 25p/16Mbps), 1280 x 720 (25p/6Mbps), XAVC S 4K: 3840 x 2160 (25p/100Mbps, 25p/60Mbps), XAVC S HD: 1920 x 1080 (50p/50Mbps, 25p/50Mbps, 100p/100Mbps, 100p/60Mbps)<[C4K]4096×2160>59.94p, 150Mbps (4:2:0 8-bit LongGOP) (LPCM, High-Res Audio)/<[C4K]4096×2160>29.97p, 150Mbps (4:2:2 10-bit LongGOP) (LPCM, High-Res Audio) / 100Mbps (4:2:0 8-bit LongGOP) (LPCM, High-Res Audio)/<[C4K]4096×2160>23.98p, 400Mbps (4:2:2 10-bit ALL-Intra) (LPCM, High-Res Audio)/<[C4K]4096×2160>23.98p, 150Mbps (4:2:2 10-bit LongGOP) (LPCM, High-Res Audio) / 100Mbps (4:2:0 8-bit LongGOP) (LPCM, High-Res Audio)/<[4K] 3840×2160>59.94p, 150Mbps (4:2:0 8-bit LongGOP) (LPCM, High-Res Audio)/
Viewfinder SizeXGA OLED, 1.3cm (0.5 type) electronic viewfinder (colour), 2,359,296 dotsOLED Live View Finder (3,680k dots)
Screen Specs7.5cm (3.0 type) TFT drive, 1,228,800 dots 1,620k dots, fully moveable, 8.0cm

You can check out the full specs for the GH5s here and A7sii here.

Conclusion

The Panasonic GH5s is a really impressive camera. It pushes the boundary of it’s small sensor size, especially in it’s low light capabilities, which are far closer to the full frame Sony A7Sii than anyone expected. It’s ability to record in high bitrates at 4:2:2 is also really impressive. In the ‘DSLR video’ area, panasonic have really put a marker down, even more so than with the GH5 in an area that has been dominated by Canon and Sony for the last few years. Canon have really not released anything big for videography recently that hasn’t been part of their cine line, the 5DIV was a bit of a disappointment in that respect. What remains to be seen though is what Sony responds with – they had a similar situation recently with the release of the Nikon D850 taking the crown of the A7Rii, and responded very quickly with the new Sony A7riii. I would expect to see a Sony A7Siii in the next few months, with the ability to record higher frame rates internally, plus support for higher video bit rates.

How to Draw a Character in Adobe Illustrator | dgtl Workshop

Hello and welcome to dgtl Workshop! In this tutorial, I’ll be showing you how to draw a character in Adobe Illustrator. To do this, we’ll be learning how some essential tools function and how significant it is to organise your layers.

Why would you Draw a Character in Adobe Illustrator?

Adobe Illustrator is a fantastic piece of software that’s accessible to all users of varying skill.

As long as you have the knowledge and know-how, you can efficiently use all of the tools to produce whatever you can imagine. Another benefit of the software is that Illustrator creates its graphics using vectors instead of pixels – This allows for the artwork to be infinitely scaled and downscaled while maintaining quality and a small file size. There are some disadvantages to the software though. For example, the software suffers from a lack of image editing tools, filters and the ability to produce pixel art – This should be fine for us, as we will only be creating a simple character in this tutorial.

Getting Started

Before we start, launch Adobe Illustrator and create a new document. It can be whatever size you want it to be, as it all depends on how big you want to make your character. If you are someone who struggles with drawing, you can click this link here to download some character guidelines I’ve produced. They should help make the character creation process easier to do.

Document Settings

Character Guidelines

Here’s an example of a character created within the guidelines.

Drawing the Figure

With our document ready, the next thing you will want to do is to create your character’s figure. It would be something that show’s their size, height, the number of arms and legs they have, etc. For example, my character is going to be a human figure, so I‘m going to draw two arms, two legs, one torso and one head.

To do this, I will use the shape tool located on the left-hand side toolbar. If you press and hold with left click, you will see various shapes to choose from. For now, I am going to use the Rounded Rectangle Tool.

Rounded Rectangle Tool

Once selected, I‘m going to start creating the general shape of my character.

Placing Shapes

Work in Progress Character Figure

Any misplaced shapes or shapes that need their size adjusted can be done so with the Selection Tool. Just head to the top left side of the toolbar and click on the black cursor. Once selected, you can click and drag any shapes to where you want them to be positioned. To adjust the size, click and pull on the white squares located at the sides and corners. If you make any mistakes, you can undo them using Control + Z (or Command + Z if you are on a Mac).

Finished Character Figure

There we go. It only took a few minutes, and I now have a brief idea of what I want my character to be – They are quite tall, have average sized arms and legs with a somewhat round head.

Adding Detail

So with my rough character figure sorted, I can move on to adding colour. To do this yourself, make sure you have a shape selected then just double-click on the coloured square to the left or use the colours shown in the swatches tab. The shape should change colour depending on which of those you do.

Selecting Colours

Adding Colours

If you want to move any shapes behind or in front of others, merely select them with the Selection Tool and right click on them. Look for Arrange in the list and with the actions it shows; you can now move your shapes backwards and forth.

I want to make my character look like a teacher – so do to this, the colours I’m using will make them look like they are wearing a shirt, trousers and tie. To help make this more apparent, I can add more shapes and change their colours depending on what they represent.

Character

Another cool feature you can do in Illustrator is that you can adjust the individual corners of a shape to have more or less curve. Just click on a shape with the Selection Tool, then click and drag on a circle next to a corner – If you wish only to change the curve of one edge, click on the circle, then click and drag. If you hold shift, then click on multiple circles, this will select them and allow you to adjust their curve by clicking and dragging.

Adjusting Curves

Work in Progress Teacher

After 20 mins of putting together some shapes, adjusting their size, curves and colours, I have now created a character that looks like a teacher. All I have left to do is organise the character’s layers and polish them off.

Organising the Layers

The first thing we’ll be doing to organise our layers is that we want to start grouping together our shapes. By doing this, it will allow us to move the character’s body parts around so that we can change their pose.

Grouping Shapes

So using the Selection Tool, select multiple shapes and then right click on them. Look for Group within the list and then click on it. Do this for every individual body part of your character until they are all grouped. For example, group together the shapes that make their left arm and then do the same for their right, their left and right leg, torso, etc.

Editing Layers

With all of the body parts grouped, head to the Layers panel to the right side of Illustrator. Open up your character’s layer, and you will see all of their body parts grouped. Double click on each layer and then give them a name depending on what body part they are. So for example, the body part is the character’s head, so name it’s layer “Head”.

Naming Layers

Once you have named all of the layers, your layers panel will be clean and organised.

Layer organisation might not seem like a big deal, but it will make returning to an old project less confusing!

Polishing the Character

With the layers and overall character finished, all that’s left is to tidy up the character. For some, that might involve changing the shape of some shapes, adding extra details like a hat and so on forth. With mine, however, they only required a change of scenery and some new colours that better matched the scene.

So how did your character turn out? Are you happy or sad about the result? Feel free to let me know in the comments, and I might be able to help out with any problems you may have!

Just know that there is always room for improvement! As long as you keep on playing with the tools and making new creations, your work will get better over time!

Examples of other Characters

If you need some inspiration, here are a few more characters I’ve done in Adobe Illustrator:

Scarecrow Field

Scarecrow

Cave Troll

Cave Troll

Performer

Stage Performer

Wood Cutter

Bearded Man

Thanks for reading!

What would you like us to cover next? Feel free to let us know on social media!

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