I recently purchased iPro Lens for Artemis and I put together an unboxing video. If you are not familiar with the Artemis, it is an app for DPs, cinematographers, and directors that lets them turn their iPhone into a director's viewfinder. I started using this app several years ago when I shot Sound of the Spirit.
The app was great, however there were some limitations. The iPhone's built in camera is only 30mm (iPhone 4), thus you could not fully preview the framing for anything wider than the built in camera, say an 18mm lens. Around that time I contacted Chemical Wedding and asked if they had thought about using lens adapters to allow for the use of wide angle visualization. They responded and said they had, and asked what lens system for iPhone I recommended. I suggested the iPro Lens system from Schneider Optics.
A couple years of later the makers of the Artemis App finally worked out a deal to create a special calibrated iPro Lens system for Artemis. You can purchase your own lens system here. I hope this video is helpful!
Eric S. Filson
Redrock Micro One Man Crew Parabolic Slider - Brilliant!
Redrock Micro just announced a slider that is a brilliant solution for the shooter who needs to shoot interviews by himself. The One Man Crew parabolic slider is self operated and allows the shooter to gather dynamic footage – perfect for interviews and product shots. Check out this demo video:
Eric S. Filson
Spectacular Gravity Teton Research 4K Areal Footage of the Bay Area
Here's some incredibly beautiful areal 4K Ultra footage shot on a RED Epic with GSS C520. The motion is incredibly smooth and the shots gorgeous. Check it out:
From the Golden Gate Bridge to Alcatraz to the Bay Lights at night, see the Bay Area's most iconic locations like you've never seen them before. Shot in 4K/"Ultra-HD," Teton Gravity Research presents the first footage from their new RED Epic-equipped gyrostabilized camera platform: The GSS C520. The GSS C520 is a portable 5-axis system that houses a range of leading digital cinema cameras, like the Epic and Sony F55, while also capable of integrating future advancements in camera technology.
Eric S. Filson
FreeFly Systems MōVI M10 - Rethinking Camera Stabilization
There have been different forms of camera stabilization around for years. Most of it it is pretty expensive, heavy, and generally cumbersome. FreeFly Systems seeks to change this with MōVI M10. This unique handheld stabilization idea for today/s generation of small digital film cameras. It utilizes gimbal technology from their remote arial platforms.
Introducing a handheld 3-axis digital stabilized camera gimbal, so advanced, it redefines the possibilities for camera movement. The heart of the gimbal is Freefly’s proprietary high performance IMU and brushless direct drive system. The gimbal is 100% custom designed in-house by our engineering team. No compromises were made to accommodate off-the-shelf brushless motors, motor drives or IMUs. Creating the gimbal from scratch allowed Freefly to precisely execute our vision for the next generation of stabilized camera gimbals. In creating this camera gimbal, we aim to empower a new era of stabilized cinematography. Freefly MōVI - “The New Moving Picture.”
Black Magic Designs announces a new "pocket" sized cinema camera. I am excited not only about the size of this little beauty, but about the affordability. I believe this little camera will once again prove to be a game changer and a boon to independent filmmakers and content creators. Here's what what Black Magic says:
Introducing the pocket sized Super 16 digital film camera that's small enough to keep with you at all times, so you'll never miss a shot! Get true digital film images with feature film style 13 stops of dynamic range, Super 16 sensor size, high quality lossless CinemaDNG RAW and Apple ProRes™ recording and the flexibility of an active Micro Four Thirds lens mount, all packed into an incredibly tiny size! The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera records 1080HD resolution ProRes 422 (HQ) files direct to fast SD cards, so you can immediately edit or color correct your media on your laptop. Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is everything you need to bring cinematic film look shooting to the most difficult and remote locations, perfect for documentaries, independent films, photo journalism, music festivals, ENG, protest marches and even war zones.
Eric S. Filson
Kickstarter: Luxi - Incident light meter adapter for iPhone
Here is a cool little accessory for your iPhone that turns it into an incident light meter.
Check out this kickstarter project: What is Luxi? Luxi is a small diffusion dome that fits securely over your iPhone’s front-facing camera. When attached and used with a light meter app, Luxi will help you determine the best settings for your DSLR or other camera so that you can take perfectly exposed pictures.
What does it do? With Luxi, your iPhone becomes a convenient and easy to use incident light meter. Professional light meters with the same features can cost several hundred dollars and require you to carry a whole separate device.
Incident light meters, like Luxi, measure the amount of light falling on the subject you are photographing, not the light reflected by the subject. Incident light meter readings are independent of the subject's reflectance and cannot be fooled by tricky lighting situations like back-lit subjects (e.g. sunset portraits).
Why do I need this? "I already have a light meter built into my camera; why do I need a separate device?"
The light meter built into all cameras measures reflected light. A reflected light meter shows an appropriate setting for an average of the whole scene. If you are taking a picture of a scene that does not have an average lighting situation, your camera's built-in light meter will not be accurate. Usually, that causes an overexposed or underexposed picture.
Here's what Heath McKnight (doddleNEWS) says about it:
"Pixel Film Studios, a pro film and photo studio that specialize in wedding, sports and commercial production, and whose work has been seen on FX and TNT, also happen to be Final Cut Pro X plug-in and app developers. And they have released PROCUTX, an app that allows you to remotely control FCP X from your iPad. This is pretty cool stuff!
The app was developed with LightWORK (not the NLE), and is $24.99 for a limited time and then $39.99 thereafter (direct link to iTunes), allows you to use the touchscreen of the iPad (I recommend the iPad 3 or 4 with its high-res retina display) to control Final Cut Pro X, without using your mouse/trackpad and keyboard. You can do timeline scrubbing, precision cuts with all the edit tools, color grading and more. This is pretty awesome!
Here are details from their site:
PROCUTX breaks free from the menus and tabs to streamline editor tasks. This application gives users control over all the FCPX editing tools in one clean interface, eliminating the need for clicking and searching through the Final Cut Pro X menus. From import to export, PROCUTX can control every step of the FCPX editing process.
• Precision Timeline Scrubbing • Quick Retiming • Auto-Correct Color • Color Grading • Compound Clip Editing • Import, Export, and Rendering shortcuts • Quick Keywording • Fast access to Tools • System Volume Control • Timeline Zooming • Audio Enhancements • Record Voiceovers
According the AppleInsider, they will take advantage of voice commands, multiple iPads and more, in future updates. Pixel Film Studios also has a variety of Final Cut Pro X plug-ins, including film looks and color grading filters. Check them out here. Also, visit their website for details on what they do."
Eric S. Filson
The story behind SmallHD: "Big Winners: The SmallHD Story"
Shane Hurlbut recently directed a short documentary about one of the hurlblog's sponsor's SmallHD. I have worked with the now discontinued SmallHD DP6 on my last movie: "The Sound of the Spirit" and appreciated the quality and durability of the monitor. After watching the documentary short, I was thrilled to see how supportive and involved Wes' Dad is in his son's vision and projects. I am inspired by their story, innovation, and perseverance. Well done!
"While I was working at Hurlbut Visuals, Lydia came up with the idea of interviewing our sponsors for the blog and gave me the opportunity to direct those spots, as it was my dream to direct.
Our vision was to tell the story of the people who create the tools that we use to tell our own stories. So the quest began! I stumbled across the very unique story of two of our sponsors, Wes Phillips and Dale Backus from SmallHD. During our discussions of how we were going to conduct the interview, being that they were located all the way out in North Carolina, I heard the incredible story of how they succeeded in winning the legendary “Doritos: Crash The Superbowl Contest” not once… but twice and then how they used their earnings to fund the growth of SmallHD! Wow… as soon as Wes told me the whole story, I called Lydia and said, “We gotta make a documentary about this!” and she was all in.
A couple of months after my discussion with Wes, I found myself flying to North Carolina with a 5DMkII, a 24-70mm l series, a 70-200mm l series, some batteries, cards… and that was it! Managing the very small budget I had to work with, the funds that SmallHD provided went towards a motel, airfare, and a rental car.
Barrett, Wes’ brother and also the head of video marketing for SmallHD, along with Tim, another SmallHD employee, served as my entire crew. Only using one joker light with a chimera and a Lowell pro light, we scrounged up what gear SmallHD had and began interviewing everyone from the guys who worked in the shop to Wes and Barrett’s father, who is now working for the company.
If there is anything I took away from this experience, it was that everyone at SmallHD really loved working there. It was like being welcomed by this big family that is striving to constantly innovate and push their products to the next level. With indie filmmaking, your team and your support is absolutely crucial and SmallHD opened their doors and made the filmmaking process into something very enjoyable. Even the interview subjects had to be substitute gaffers. If anything can be said about indie filmmaking, it is that if you have the support of people like SmallHD and Hurlbut Visuals, you can tell great stories."
I don't own an iPad yet, but I hope to in the near future. As a filmmaker I see great value in the apps and flexibility that an iPad provides. Zagg just released the Zagg Keys Pro Plus - a backlit bluetooth keyboard designed for an iPad. I could see how this could be very useful in screenwriting and other key intensive applications. It also acts as a screen protector! If any of you own one, let me know what you think.
Here is Zagg's official description and video:
The ZAGGkeys® PRO™ and PROplus™ are ultra-thin Bluetooth® keyboard accessories that accentuate the utility and convenience of the Apple® iPad® 2 or 3. The lightweight and durable aluminum construction of the ZAGGkeys PRO and PROplus match the look and feel of the iPad 2/3. The ZAGGkeys PRO and PROplus utilize an innovative magnet closure to secure the iPad and protect the screen from scratches and damage. The patented, ultrathin keyboard design provides one of the thinnest tablet keyboard accessories on the market. The ZAGGkeys PRO and PROplus deliver a natural typing experience in a compact layout, with dedicated function keys to operate specific iPad 2/3 features. The integrated stand holds the iPad at an optimal viewing angle to promote ease of use and decrease eye fatigue, in landscape or portrait orientation. The ZAGGkeys PRO and PROplus feature: Bluetooth™ 3.0 wireless connectivity; Patented, compact keyboard design with island-style keys for fast and accurate typing; Intuitive built-in stand holds iPad at optimum viewing angle; Innovative magnetic closure; Auto on/off magnet for quick start up and shut down; Rechargeable built-in keyboard battery lasts months between charges. The ZAGGkeys PRO and PROplus are compatible with the Apple iPad 2 or iPad 3rd Gen.
After several DAYS of trying to upload this video to Vimeo, we've ultimately had to reduce the bit-rate compression down to 18mbps (Vimeo recommends 5mbps, ha!), which is down from our minimum quality level of 40mbps. This means the SOURCE file you can download will also inhibit some amount of compression blocking and smearing, even in the Cinema Camera footage, which doesn't originally exist in our ProRes master file. We've tried EVERYTHING, multiple types of uploads, different encoding methods, you name it. This is as best as it will get unless someone can host our 40mbps H.264 file (about 3GB) on their server that the world can download from.
Although the downloadable source file is a little better than the streaming version, it still doesn't compare to the original ProRes source file which imposes no banding, compression artifacts, or chrominance sub-sampling (down from 4:4:4 to H.264's 4:2:0 space). Please keep this in mind when viewing.
Unfortunately Vimeo only allows 100 downloads per day, so check back to download the 2GB file if the queue is filled. And remember to always watch in FULL 1080 HD or you will have added scaling and moiré issues on some of the tests than what is already been added by Vimeo and our horrid bit-rate restrictions.
Background: This video compares the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera and the Canon 5D Mark III in several tests. This includes dynamic range, sharpness, pushing levels, banding, artifacts, rolling shutter, chromakeying, wide/telephoto lengths, DOF (depth of field), low light, macro blocking, contrast, and more.
Thanks for watching. Hope this is as informative for you as it was for me making it.
Eric S. Filson
iPhone case tough enough for production…among other things
Have you ever been on one of those incredibly long 16-18 hour production days? Anymore almost everyone on set carries an iPhone or some smart phone. It's a tool. It's communication. It's downtime. It is essential.
As a cinematographer I use my iPhone all the time, however often I find my self dropping my phone or bumping it off something. Sometimes I have to shoot in the rain, and more times than not, I find my battery dying before we wrap for the day. Recently I ran across the Mophie Juice Pack Pro. I don't have personal experience with this case, but it looks promising. It looks rather thick due to the battery pack, but I'd put up with it as long as I was wearing cargo pants/shorts or decided to use the clip. The price is steep at $129 but it may be worth it to protect and power my production lifeline. I also love to backpack, mountain climb, rock climb, and mountain bike, so for these activities, the extended battery life in the backcountry would be a real boon. I'd be interested to hear from any of you who have had experience with it.
Currently I use my Otterbox Defender case and am relatively happy with it, though there are a few features I liked better with the 3GS version which seemed more protected. I might end up switching cases in the future… we'll see.
I attend the Indy Final Cut Pro User Group last evening and had a chance to hear a Canon rep. talk about the C300 and other Canon products. He had a demo unit with him and it was great to actually pick up the camera and get some hands on time. I like the weight and feel of the camera and the signal processing under the hood is what sells the camera - essentially it is a three chip camera, only without the beam splitting prism that cause visual aberrations. Like other Canon DSLRs I’ve shot with, the imaging is very organic and has the ability to shoot in Canon Log which is ideal for post color grading. Unfortunately the rep. didn’t have any Canon cinema glass there, but I’d love to try out some of the cine zooms and primes. I look forward to an opportunity to shoot a project with this camera or it’s big brother the C500 with 4K ability when it gets released. Vincent Laforte recently completed a short titled Mobius shot with the Canon C300