Monday
Apr092012

NAB Field Guide 

2012 NAB FIELD GUIDE & SPEAKING SCHEDULE

Hello NAB 2012! Danielle and I are pumped for this years conference - not only because we get to to check out all the amazing new products, meet up with old friends / coleagues / fellow filmmakers, but because we will be speaking at both the Steadicam & Lowel booths this year ( more info on that below)

Whether its your first time or you are a NAB show veteran, there are always a ton of fresh / new things to see there and to me at least... the show never gets old :) 

Those who know NAB know that its about one thing: GEAR. Nonstop gear. There are a ton of new / innovative filmmaking tools coming out this year. Sometimes the show can get crazy and when you get home you realize that you didn't get a chance to see something that you were really looking forward to checking out. I would often realize that there were 5 or 10 things that I missed seeing at the show that I had on my list from the start.

Danielle and I thought we would write up a little guide for what were going to be checking out at the show & why, so that if you ever get stuck in one of those "what should I check out next" moments, you can have a good solid list here as reference of gear to check out ( and we partially made this so we can look back on this blog post and make sure we don't miss anything either :) 

For those interested I added the appropriate booth number as well so you can located it on the map. You can also download the @NABShow iPhone app as well that includes maps, booth info, and what looks like a ton of other cool stuff ( I just downloaded it a few days ago ) 

ALSO I will actively be updating the gear list below as well when we are at NAB if we find any "must-see" booths or items of gear while we are there. 

AND listed below are the times / days that we are speaking. Each presentation is approx 30min w/ 10min Q&A. We will be posting updates throughout the show too on our twitter acct. @MINDCASTLE

SPEAKING SCHEDULE @ Tiffen Booth #C8818

DAY 01 Monday - April 16th

  10:15am - Steadicam

2:15pm - Lowel 

Day 02 Tuesday - April 17th

1:15pm - Steadicam

Day 03 Wednesday - April 18th

10:15am - Steadicam/Lowel 

FIELD GUIDE - INTRO

First and foremost there are two places you should stop at first 1) The B&H Photo/Video Booth {C11022} and 2) the AbelCine Booth {C8932} These are two places where you can get a general vibe going for whats new and hot.

B&H

The people at the B&H booth are extremely helpful and they always have a ton of gear to check out and.... MOST importantly (at least in years past) they were one of the only booths that you could buy things from right there on the show floor. They have great and helpful staff and I always love stopping by that booth first. 

AbelCine

AbelCine is the place where we bought our very first video camera from back in the day. Knowledgable & helpfull staff and whom always have great insights into whats coming out next OR they are the first people to actually GET whats coming out next, and in what seems like no time have a "first look" video up on the product and have demo units available to try out. 

FIELD GUIDE - THE GEAR

Steadicam - Fawcett-ExoVest {Booth C8818}

If you are into Steadicam (even in the least bit) you've got to come check this out. It was developed by an amazing operator by the name of Chris Fawcett in collaboration with Garrett Brown / Steadicam. I highly recommend you come by the booth and give it a whirl. I have been rigging people up on it at the Steadicam booth all day today and its got very good reviews by beginners as well as the pros. 

To me, its the vest of vests. I got to try it on pre-NAB and give it a whirl. Its an amazing concept: a front and back mountable vest that works with ANY Steadicam model, yes, you heard that right. Its also much more efficient at weight distribution and you also dont have the side straps / pads like the original style vests so you arms have a great deal more freedom. Another thing is that the belt and top pivot, so its not as ridged as the original / standard vests that come with the rigs. 

What I like most about this concept is that its all about choice. You can go with what fits with your style the best, whether you find the original / standard vest or the new one with back mount capability, its a really great new product that I've seen from Steadicam. If you are at NAB, come by the booth, give me a shout and I will personally give you a demo of it. 


FreeFly Cinema - Cinestar 6 Revolution {Booth OE2380}

One of the coolest filmmaking toys has got to be RC helicopters. We had the opportunity to work with one last March in Alaska filming the iditarod. We had a blast with the chopper and got shots that we never could have got anywhese else or with anything else. I would highly reccommend checking out RC helicopters -- they are unique in the fact that they get shots that a normal full size helicopter can't. When people as me to compare the shot you get some an RC vs a full size helicopter I like to think of the RC as like a giant Steadicam :) 

Tabb Firchau who owns FreeFly cinema and hes a great guy, I suggest you swing by the booth and give him a shout and check out all the cool aerial gadgets that hes got there. 


Angenieux - Optimo 45-120 {Booth C6019}

Angenieux lenses are top of the line PL mount cine lenses. There are many people who swear by these lenses and often entire productions are shot with two or three of them and nothing else ( no primes ) I think that the main reason for this is that once you put one on, its hard to take it off. They have great low T-stops and are sharp as a tack even by prime lens standards. I really enjoyed gettting to use a few Optiomos on some projects this year. One of my favorites bring the 17-80 T/2.8 - primiarly because its very lightweight / zoom and focus are smooth as butter, and its T2.8 which is great for a zoom lens. 

We recently used this lens on a TV pilot that we shot on Alexa, and ARRI just featured a behind the scenes look at that shoot on their website. You can spot this lens being used in the behind the scenes photos in that article. 

This post is specifically about the 45-120mm. I havent tried this lens yet, but I am really looking forward to checkiing it out here at NAB. I can imagine shooting alot of projects with just the 45-120mm and 17-80mm for the entire project without needing to switch lenses much.

Definitely make Angenieux a stop on your list. 


ARRI - ALEXA M {Booth C6737}

I've been following the progress of this camera since images of it began popping up online a little over a year ago and I couldnt be more excited to check it out in person. We've been shooting with the Alexa EV quite a bit and I am very interested to see the same camera body itself in a smaller / more modular form factor  - The Alexa EV is quite heavy on the the shoulders and the M will be a nice solution for lightweight filmmaking. 

Essentailly, the M is a cabeled, extremely compact version of the Alexa with body and head separated. While the main application for this camera looks to be 3d work, I am really interested in this camera for handheld work as well as Steadicam shooting with camera on top and body mounted on the sled as weight. Even though the main body of the camera is still there, I can imagine putting it in a backpack or something with the cable out the top and then shoulder mounting the camera, or putting it on a monopod, slider, or dolly. I am really diggning the move by camera companies to go more modular and I think this product aims towards that goal. 

SPECS 

• 14 stop dynamic range (identical image as original Alexa EV cameras) 

• 800 ISO base sensetivity 

• 5 lbs weight (head section)

• 1-60 fps & 120fps (with software upgrade) 

• Compatable with the ARRI wireless RCU-4 remote control unit 

• Apple Prores 4444 and Avid DNxHD recordable to Sony SxS cards

• Log C - Rec 709 - DCI P3 output options 

Vision Research - Phantom Miro M320s {Booth C7843}

The phantom camera line is the go-to camera line for capturing high speed footage that is cinematic (I say cinematic because some highspeed solutions are geared ONLY towards science applications, where the Phantom line has filmmaking in mind)

The Miro 320s is making its debut at the show and I am really excited for it. Its small size / form factor make it perfect for Steadicam work and also for placing it at unique angles that you couldnt do with a larger rig. 

The 320s is the higher end of the "Miro" line, as they also have the M110, M120, and M310 models that have varying degrees of features / price points. 

Below is a quick list of specs on the M320s

SPECS

• 1,380 fps (yes you heard that correct) @ full 1920x1080p resolution 

• 2,250 fps at 1152 x 1152 square resolution

• RAW recording

• Base sensitivity of 1100 ISO

• HD-SDI output 

• Records to onboard CineFlash 60GB solid state drive

• Plethora of lens mounts to choose from { Canon EOS, PL, Nikon} 

• Runs on readily available Sony BP-U30 and BP-U90 batteries 

• Only weighs in at 3.2 lbs

Lowel - Blender light {Booth C8818}

The Lowel blender lights are our on-the-go choice for protable lighting. They are light, can be battery powered, and the most important thing is that you can adjust the color balance on them to match the lighting around you.

You should definitely swing by the Tiffen Booth to check them out. Our Lowel presentation is also touches on how we use these lights in our lighting tool kit, as well as our lighting philosophy in general, so if your interested in learning more about these lights come check out our presentation @ 2:15pm on Monday - Tiffen {Booth C8818}

SmallHD - DP4 EVF

Without a question the SmallHD booth is a one to visit this year. The DP6 and DP4 are must sees. We shoot with both monitors and have recently been testing out the DP4 EVF version which has been a huge help for shooting outside in bright daylight. We just finished up a shoot in Miami with MLB and we could not have done it with out a proper EVF and the DP4/EVF combo came through for us with flying colors. 

You can find detailed spec lists on SmallHD's website for both monitors. I HIGHLY recommend either renting one of these monitors from @LensProToGo or just downright buying one if you are in the "its time for a monitor upgrade game" the craftmanship, features, and build quality of these monitors are top notch. Apart from these things, my favorite thing about SmallHD is their customer care and service. They continually release software / firmware upgrades for their monitors so you always get the best / most up to date technology feature wise. 


Cinevate - Jib {Booth C8217}

I got a chance to test out a prototype of this rig a few years ago and from the photos it looks like its going to be a hit. Plain and simple, I cant wait to get my hands on this new / updated version. We use a ton of Cinevate products and we have always utilized the unique features that they build into their products and I know this one wont disappoint. 

There are two key features that I like about Cinevate products. 1) care and attention to how the gear functions and 2) build quality... the things they make never break.. I have had an Atlas 30 for over three years. In and out of planes, on concrete, dropped into baseball fields, kicked by football players, placed inside pools for underwater shots, hung upside down in 95 degree weather with 100% humidity with no rust. While the Atlas I have might not look brand new, it still functions that way.  

Also, our good friends at @LensProToGo are supplying all the camera / lens equipment that Cinevate will have at their booth. I highly recommend checking out www.lensprotogo.com They have impeccable service and they will get you the gear you need fast. We've been renting from them for the past three years and they a great group of people. 

Carl Zeiss - Brand New CP.2 Cine Lenses {Booth C9049}

I caught wind of this video just recently on twitter. And it looks like Zeiss will be announcing a entirely brand new line of the Compact Prime lenses ( CP2.) this year at NAB. The best part is... all of them will be at T / 1.5.

This new line looks like it will probably be a hit, as the current CP2's made a big imapact in the market with their PL / Canon mount interchangability and Full Frame sensor coverage.   

I have used the CP2's before, but I prefer the ARRI / Zeiss Ultra Primes in sharpness & toneality and since the CP2's generally were not as fast. However, I am glad to see this new line coming out though and I will definitely go check them out, there is always a need for faster glass. The current crop of CP2's are incredibly light and offer top notch build quality as well, so I expect the same from these and more. 

Steadicam - Zephyr {Booth C8818}

I havent had the chance to check out this particular model of Steadicam yet eventhough its been out for awhile. I shoot primarily with the Steadicam Flyer LE and the Zephyr is a updated version of it with some great addons that are specific to DSLR and small form-factor cameras.

If you are interested in checking out a Steadicam come by the booth because I will be there almost the entire event. Come by, say hey and I will get you set up with trying on a rig... I cant promist anything, but once you put it on... you wont want to take it off. 

Steadicam has been a love of mine for the past 5 years and I consider it a part of how I think when planning out shots. 

Danielle and I will be speaking at the Steadicam (Tiffen) booth as well so come check it out. We will be talking about "The Sport of Steadicam" basically how we've grown and evolved with Steadicam gear and our thoughts / tips / techniques on storytelling with Steadicam. 

ARRI - L7 Fresnel Lights {Booth C6737} 

LED lights are everywhere these days, but the ARRI L7's look like they might hit the sweet spot between the versatility LED's and the quality of a fresnel lens housing. There are three models: Tungsten balanced ( L7-T) , Daylight balanced (L7-D) , and one that is switchable (L7-C)

The light itself is 220w but gives you equivalent of 1000w of light... amazing.

The L7C is switchable between tungsten and daylight and any number / color inbetween for that matter, with full color tinting controls. I found a great video by @abelcine on the L7-C that touches on its unique features 

Another benefit to these lights being LED is that they wont get burning hot, like other tungsten / HMI's do when in heavy use all day on set. 

Redrock Micro - microRemote Wireless Follow Focus {Booth C12033}

This has been a product that I have really been looking forward to. why? because it solves two problems for me... 1) self operating & controlling the focus on the steadicam which I couldnt do before and 2) being able to control from your iPhone.. which means you can plug in anywhere you have the app and be ready to go. 

I have kept my eyes on this product now for a long (seems like it was announced ages ago) but it looks like it may truly be a revolutionary product in both price point and uniqueness (the fact that you can control it via iPhone) 

I have been looking for a good wireless follow focus solution for awhile now and this one looks like it will be right on the money. Ive used devices like the Bartech and Preston before and they are great, but I am looking for something like this that has a small enough form factor that I can pull my own focus on wirelessly. 

Sound Devices - PIX 240 {Booth C2546}

The PIX 240 looks to be THE solution for on-board recording. I own a bunch of Sound Devices gear  for recording audio so I already know that the quality on this is going to be top notch. What I like about the PIX 240 is the amazing feature list: from being a rock solid timecode reader to having the detachable SSD drive with USB 3.0 / Firewire 800 / SATA post built in - it seems to have everything you could ask for and more. @abelcine put together a great hands-on video highlighting the PIX 240 feature list. You should check it out to get a sense of all the amazing things it has to offer. I jotted down a short spec list of the most imporant things - but if you look at Sound Devices website there are a TON more ( too many to list here :) 

SPECS

• Apple Prores and Avid DNxHD onbaord recording

• CF card slot / SSD card slot

• SSD card slot has FireWire 800 / USB 3.0 / eSATA ports built in when you detach it (this feature is simply badass. Love it.) 

• Built-in rock solid timecode generator 

• 5" display with 800x480 resolution 

d

Pelican Products - ALL cases {Booth C10337}

Pelican cases are the work horse of the industry. If you buy expensive gear, it makes sense to protect it while on a shoot. We currently own 5-6 cases, but we are looking to expand and get a case for every piece of gear so that we dont run into ANY of our stuff being damaged while in transit. I highly reccommend checking out this booth - they always have new and exciting products and you can always bring your gear with you and find the perfect fit for it in one of their cases. 

O-Connor - O-box Mattebox {Booth }

The O-Connor o-box is at the top of my list in favorite new lightweight matteboxes. The genius behind it is that it comes with robust handles that attach to the bottom, top, and sides, making for great grip points to use when shooting on-the-go and in ultra light set ups. Also cost wise, the mattebox is very inexpensive in a world where most good quality matteboxes are easily over $2000. The O-Box comes right in at close to $1000 - definitely worth checking out if you are in the market for a new mattebox. 

ARRI - Mini Follow Focus 2 / MMF-2 {Booth C6737}

I have used the MMF-1 (the original version) on a ton of shoots and love it as part of my cine-lens kit - its extremely robust and the best feature, I think, is that it can be clipped onto the rails rather than having to slide on.

Normally when changing a Follow Focus you have to disengage it, remove the mattebox from the rails, place follow focus on, and readjust. With the MMF-1 all you have to do is clip it on, adjust, lock and your ready to go. Very cool feature & the main reason in why I bought this unit in the first place. 

ARRI MMF-2 is the new version of the MMF-1 and it was was annouced last year. I am looking forward to checking it out this time around as I missed NAB last year because we were on a shoot. The MMF-2 is essentially the same as the MMF-1, with a few minor tweaks here and there, but the biggest change is the key feature of the ability to swap focus knobs. Check out the graphic below: 

END FIELD GUIDE

Like I mentioned earlier, I will be updating this guide while I am at NAB with any new / cool / interesting / innovative products that I discover while I am there so check here OR come see me at the Tiffen Booth and say HEY! 

So, if its your first time to NAB, have fun, Its an awesome event and if you are a gear head YOU WILL NOT BE LET DOWN... The first year I went my eyes balls hurt from looking so intensely at intricate mechanical things all day. And, the first year I went, I missed alot of things... hence... the reason I am writing this guide. Go slow, pace yourself, and make lists of all the stuff you want to see and get hands-on with

If you have been there before, remember to leave ALL your high limit credit cards at home... because you know it can get crazy, especially on the last day when everyone seems to be offering HUGE discounts on stuff so they dont have to lug it back with them :) 

Thursday
Mar222012

Every camera has its edge - Our Thoughts on ARRI ALEXA

 

 

CAMERAS AS FILM STOCKS

With so many choices these days in cameras I've found that its not about what camera is the best, but more so about what camera is the best fit for each and every project. We've shot on everything from iPhones, GoPro's & DSLR's to Phantom high speed cameras, RED Epics, and ARRI ALEXA's and so on. In the end, what it really comes down to is the look that you are trying to achieve in conjunction with the story that you are trying to tell. 

I like to think of the vast array of camera choices comparable to thinking of the type of film stock that you would use in your SLR ( ahh....the good ol days of darkrooms, chemicals, test prints, remember those? ) Back then, you had just about as many choices of film type / stock as you do now with what camera your going to shoot with. Different films offered different looks: You could go with slide film for positive prints that had contrasty vibrant colors or go with Kodachrome for more natural colors and vivid sharpness with little grain. Each film stock has its own feel; its own unique properties as well as pros / cons. 

This is the same deal with digital cameras, but instead of choosing a differnt type of film, you are chosing an entirely different camera.

In fact, Shane Hurbut has a great illustration of this when comparing the look of Canon C300 to the ARRI Alexa in a post just recently up on his blog. You can clearly see a difference in what each image has to offer and the varying qualities that each has that are inherent to the image itself.

THE LOOK

The inherent image that comes out of a camera I like define as the cameras look.

The look represents many things all working together. It is not only the technical abilities of the camera but also the way the native sensor handles, processes, and compresses light. Along with the look, every camera has its strengths & weaknesses and its important to know these for each camera system that you plan to shoot on. Not only is it important for choosing the right camera for the right job, but also what you want to convey within the context of your story.

THE EDGE

Every camera has its edge. I like to think of a camera and what first comes to mind when using that system. I listed a few below that I've used over the past year or so... 

RED Epic: Its Resolution & modular options. 

Phantom: extreme slow motion.

Canon C300: its lowlight & small size

Canon 5D Mark II & III: its portability, full frame image, and price point. 

ARRI ALEXA: its ability to handle light and color in the same manner as film. 

Know your camera & know what edge it has. 

You can utilize this edge to get the most out of our gear and also achieve the story goals that you have in mind with your shoots. i.e for a homemade "selfshot" youtube-ish look, shoot with an iPhone or flipcam. For a cinematic slowmotion commercial feel, shoot on Epic or Alexa, or even Phantom for that matter ( if you want to go REALLY slow )  -- these are just generalizations, but you get the idea. 

We were recently featured on ARRI's website for a short piece that we shot on the ALEXA & I thought I would post the article below so you can get a feel for our thoughts on the camera. I wrote a similar post for the Canon C300 awhile back so I thought I would do a similar piece on the ALEXA as well with pros and cons. 

Also, The first image above is an ungraded still from the Alexa at 120 fps @ ISO 2500 - K balanced at 3200 • shot at T 2.8 at 1/48th with an Optimo  28-76mm PL mount zoom -- To me this image represents the inherent look of the camera very well. With a focus on accurate / filmic skin tones as well as the unique ability to blend daylight 5600K light with tungsten 3200K light. 

ALEXA Pros: 

• versatility in frame rates (1-120 fps) 

• output options -  HD-SDI for external recorders. You can also shoot directly to Prores 4444 files as well as Avid DNxHD 

• 720p viewfinder. One of the best I've used. Extremely sharp and colors are very accurate. If I could use this viewfinder on any camera I would use it on everything. 

• 14 stop Dynamic range: extremely adept at handling highlights as well as color information. You can light images heavily with daylight & tungsten at the same time and the final outcome looks very natural / similar to how our eye sees it. 

• depth of color information. I found I could light more freely & utilize the color of light with a much more color "palette" way of thinking. 

ALEXA Cons:

• Weight. The camera is heavy. On a 10 hr day, shoulders start to ache. 

• Price point - expensive, but you do get what you pay for. High quality / Handcrafted feel. Top notch ergonomics within the physical camera itself as well as the menu system. 

• SxS media more expensive than CF cards. 

• Power. The camera eats up batteries like they were gigabytes.

( the article below is from ARRI's website - you can also check it out HERE on WWW.ARRI.COM )

 

Founded by Casey Warren and Danielle Krieger, MINDCASTLE is a film studio and production company dedicated to telling stories through evocative imagery. Both Warren and Krieger are devoted to the creative process and are motivated by a passion to generate work that is artistic, meaningful and authentic. Their work has been featured nationally, including spots for Canon, along with Emmy-nominated productions for Major League Baseball, ESPN, HBO and Showtime Sports. Recently the team shot a television pilot on ALEXA with ARRI Ultra Primes from Koerner Camera in Seattle. The equipment package was rounded out with ARRI accessories and lights. Warren served as Director of Photography and Krieger as production and media manager. Here, we asked Warren a little about the experience and his thoughts on visual storytelling. 

ARRI NEWS (AN): Tell us a little about your background.

CW:
 Initially what sparked my interest in photography was that there was an art in framing, composition, and lighting. As I got more into it, I became interested in what message an image could contain and the meaning behind it. There’s that moment when you click the shutter, an instant is captured; a thought, emotion, or idea preserved to be transmitted for others to experience. I was hooked.

I got addicted to the visual impact that moving images have and how a sequence can tell a story. From that point, when I was very young, I knew filmmaking was an integral part of my future. And that’s where MINDCASTLE stems from, MINDCASTLE is a metaphor for creative strength with the goal to create work that is built from roots in strong visual storytelling.



AN: What was your workflow on this shoot?

CW: Our workflow was set up to be as clean and simple as we could make it. One of the main reasons was that the piece was being sent straight into the edit after we got done shooting. We brought to set two 17" MacBook Pros and a 27" iMac. We loaded the ALEXA footage with the MacBook Pro since it has an SxS card slot built into it and we could also simultaneously load, backup and preview footage on the go as we shot. We recorded and monitored in Rec709 and recorded in ProRes 4444. 

The footage came out beautifully and we didn't run into workflow snafus. I like to use this camera system on projects because of the simplicity, speed of the workflow and the stunning imagery that the sensor can produce. The workflow is plug and play, no transcoding, encoding, and so on.

Shooting with ALEXA meant we had lots of headroom for latitude, so we lit like we were shooting on film. In a way its useful to think of ALEXA like film, with this specific camera there are advantages in color rendition and latitude when compared to other camera systems out there. We also shot on the new firmware upgrade that allows for 120fps recording. 

Another thing about the ALEXA is the EVF, which is honestly one of the best that I've used. It has full 1280 x 720p resolution and is sharp as a tack. It also has a ton of settings and features that make it stand out among the rest.

AN: What was in your ARRI lighting kit?

CW: ARRI lighting is definitely a standard for us in our lighting package. There is a lot of freedom in using the HMI and tungsten Fresnels, they are both bright enough to diffuse, yet you can adjust them enough if you are looking for a hard rim or sharp edge light on your subject. 

My personal ARRI lighting kit consists of a three-light standard ARRI tungsten package: one ARRI 1000w Fresnel and two ARRI 650w Fresnels. We also rented a few 575w ARRI HMIs as I always like working with daylight-balanced lighting if I have the opportunity to do so and I also enjoy mixing the two sources together as well.



AN: What was one of your lighting setups like?

CW: One of my favorite setups that we used was an intro sequence at the pool table that involved a mix of both tungsten and daylight sources. With the camera balanced at 3200 K we lit up the background with the ARRI 650w Fresnel gelled for daylight and for the foreground soft light we used an ARRI 1000w Fresnel with a Chimera and some additional diffusion on the pool table from a Kino Flo Diva 200. We also utilized a Lowel Blender light set to about 4500 K right in the middle of the two light sources. 

What I really liked about this setup was that there was so much to play with in the imagery. In addition to the lights, we added atmosphere to the scene with a Rosco fog machine. This really helped fill the background with the blue daylight from the 650w, while still allowing the tungsten light to pour into our foreground and illuminate the skin tones of the talent. 

We wouldn't have really been able to light this scene in the exact same way with another camera. ALEXA handles the blending of the tungsten and daylight sources very uniquely, where you can actually mix the two sources together as you would with film. Rather than fighting with difference in color balance we could play with it instead, using the colors as gradients. The ALEXA made it easy for us to paint the light into our scene, in very much the same way you would mix colors together on a canvas. 

I am really happy with how this lighting set up came out and at 120 frames per second, you can really soak in the texture of the scene.

GEAR USED:

  •  ARRI ALEXA w/ 120fps firmware upgrade
  •  ARRI Mini Matte Box (MMB-1)
  •  ARRI Mini Follow Focus (MFF-1)
  •  Lightweight Matte Box 14 (LMB-14)
  •  Ultra Primes (14mm, 20mm, 40mm, 50mm, 65mm)
  •  ARRI 1000w & 650w Tungsten Fresnels
  •  ARRI Compact 575w HMIs
Thursday
Mar222012

Our 1st Nomination to the Emmys® 

 

We are excited to announce that we have been nominated for this year's Emmy® awards. We are both incredibly humbled, honored and thankful for the opportunities that we've had over this year and the last.

There is often this moment on a projects where I pause and get the feeling that everything is clicking. This moment is defined by the almost tangible feeling & sense of team work that comes from everyone working together & I think that teamwork is one of the best metaphors for filmmaking: 

Any film, documentary, or commercial represents a whole that is greater than the sum of parts; its a moving clockwork of minds, hearts, passion, and creative focus that unify a group of people. The creative result of this sum is built from hundreds of moments where everyone works and thinks like a team. 

We are proud to have worked with so many amazing teams of people this year I can't be more thankful for all the great friends we have made over the past year. 

We received a nomination for a project we produced, directed and DP'd this year for ESPN. We really enjoyed working with the tight knit team at ESPN ( Jeremy, Lucas & Paul )  

ESPN - Sunday NFL Countdown Spot 

and for others that we had the opportunity to work on and be a part of. 

MLB/HBO - Derek Jeter 3K

MLB/Showtime - The Franchise: a Season with The San Fransisco Giants

Hands down, my favorite memories from this year are all the collaborations with the amazing producers - editors - & cinematographers that we've worked with. Emmy win or not, Danielle and I are incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be nominated and we cant wait for what the rest of 2012 has to offer! 

This week we have been gearing up for Season 2 of The Franchise and we cant wait to work with all the amazing producers at MLB again. We head out March 31st for opening day in Miami --> Follow our twitter account @MINDCASTLE for our thoughts / photos / & behind-the-scenes 

/CaseyW 

I attached the official press release from MLB below so you can check it out:

 

MLB PRODUCTIONS EARNS ALL-TIME BEST FIVE SPORTS EMMY NOMINATIONS

FOR WORK ON “THE FRANCHISE” AND “DEREK JETER 3K”

 -- MLB Media Entities Earn Combined 15 Nominations -- 

 Major League Baseball Productions collected an all-time high of five nominations for the 33rd Annual Sports Emmy Awards, including nominations for its critically acclaimed work on The Franchise: A Season with the San Francisco Giants on Showtime and DerekJeter3K on HBO.  The Franchise earned three nominations, including Outstanding Edited Sports Series /Anthology, while DerekJeter3K was nominated for Outstanding Edited Sports Special.

Overall, Major League Baseball media entities (MLB Productions, MLB Network and MLB Advanced Media) earned a combined 15 nominations, which were announced earlier today by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

          MLB Network earned eight nominations, including two for MLB Tonight, the 2011 winner for the Outstanding Studio Show. MLB Tonight is once again nominated in the category along with a nomination for Outstanding Technical Team Studio. Bob Costas, a 22-time Sports Emmy Award winner, earned a nomination for Outstanding Sports Personality-Studio Host for his work on both MLB Network and NBC. In addition, Al Leiter and Harold Reynolds each earned a Sports Emmy Award nomination in the Outstanding Sports Personality – Studio Analyst, and Jim Kaat also received a nomination for Outstanding Sports Personality – Sports Event Analyst.

MLB.com At Bat 11, the mobile phone and tablet application developed by MLB Advanced Media, again earned a nomination in one of the two categories representing digital media, Outstanding New Approaches to Sports Event Coverage. Since its 2008 debut, MLB.com At Bat has been the top grossing sports application and one of only two iOS apps inducted into the Halls of Fame for iPhone, iPad and Macworld.

In addition, MLB Productions, MLB Network and MLBAM were collectively nominated for the prestigious George Wensel Technical Achievement Award for The DIAMOND Platform, a media management tool. DIAMOND is utilized daily to research and produce broadcast quality programming for both MLB Network and MLB Productions, and to archive, search and retrieve video content for use by Major League Baseball. The Baseball Archives, managed by the DIAMOND Platform, contains over 300,000 hours of content, which is easily retrievable within minutes from the data tape robotic library.

Below is a complete list of Major League Baseball’s Sports Emmy Award Nominations:

Outstanding Edited Sports Special – Derek Jeter 3K (MLB Productions/HBO)

Outstanding Edited Sports Series /Anthology – The Franchise: A Season with the San Francisco Giants (MLB Productions/Showtime)

Outstanding Music Composition/ Direction / Lyrics – The Franchise: A Season with the San Francisco Giants (MLB Productions/Showtime)

Outstanding Post Produced Audio/Sound – The Franchise: A Season with the San Francisco Giants (MLB Productions/Showtime)

Outstanding Studio Show – Daily: MLB Tonight (MLB Network)

Outstanding Technical Team Studio: MLB Tonight (MLB Network)

Outstanding Sports Personality – Studio Host: Bob Costas (MLB Network/NBC)

Outstanding Sports Personality – Sports Event Analyst: Jim Kaat (MLB Network)

Outstanding Sports Personality – Studio Analyst: Al Leiter (MLB Network)

Outstanding Sports Personality – Studio Analyst: Harold Reynolds (MLB Network)

Outstanding Sports Promotional Announcement – Institutional: All in One Place (MLB Network)

Outstanding New Approaches Sports Event Coverage – MLB Advanced Media

The George Wensel Technical Achievement Award: The DIAMOND Platform (MLB Productions/MLB Network/MLB.com)

 

Tuesday
Feb282012

LENSES: PART 01 - PRIMES

 

LENSES - PART 01 - PRIMES

I think after years we are finally able to diagnose our condition... we are have an addiction to primes. Seriously, I find almost impossible to resits the sexy-ness of a new lens or an old well-taken-care-of vintage one. #lenslust pretty much explains it. 

We are gear heads (well, me more so than Danielle) I get weak in the knees after walking the show floor at NAB, or just hanging out with friends at the local camera shop. I can never have too much glass, and at the top of the list are primes. Primes are my favorite but that it was once quite the oppsite. I used to LOVE zooms and its actually all I had. I think I may have had a 24-135mm back in the day and thought that with that one lens I could rule the photographic/cinematographic world with... but I quickly found out that this wasnt the case. That moment occured when I rented my first prime lens - the 50mm f / 1.2. It all changed from there, and I've been addicted to primes ever since, not to say Zooms are not cool (we have an entire post cooked up for them in a few weeks) but primes just hit that special place between drool worthy tech specs and awe inspiring achievable imagery through usage. #primelensaddict 

One of the most common questions we get is "what lens should I get next." And I have always found that to be one of the most difficult questions to answer, simply because there is not one right answer. Lens choice is specific to each person's style and the perameters of the shoot. I think the most important thing to think about when looking into that next lens upgrade is not only what it will help you achieve but why

Be its low light capabilities, or the ability to be close in or far away from a subject, or just its versatility, every lens has its strengths and weaknesses. It's important to keep in mind the affect the lens has on the image captured by the camera and how viewers percieve that image. This to me is where the why comes into play, and you can utilize the power of focal lenths as elements in helping tell the story or convey an emotion. (More on that in future posts)

We really excelled when we started using primes in addition to zooms because primes forced us to be more creative. Instead of standing in one spot and zooming in and out, we had to move around and try different things to bring variety to our shoots. I've found that when using primes I break out of my routine and think out of the box more often. I do think that zooms have their place in shoots (next post) however primes are a very important part of our arsenal of gear. 

 

 

 

 Benefits of prime lenses:

• They often have a lower F / T stop than zoom lenses. This is generally because they contain much less glass for the light to pass through and also the way the optics are arranged when the elements are fixed rather than moving as they are in a zoom lens. 

• Generally the optics are sharper ( again because there is less glass for the image to pass through )

• More compact than some zooms ( in some cases ) 

• Usually faster to auto-focus than zoom lenses

• In the cinema world generally the primes are lighter than the zooms ( not always though )

• allow for lighter set ups because you don't necessarily need rails, extra gear to support them 

 

I thought it would be good to give a run down of the primes in our basic lens package that we travel with most of the time and also the lenses we use on simple run and gun situations all the way up to a large scale commercial production. 

 

First I'll start with our favorites. AKA "what would you want if you were stuck on an island with a camera and a lens

 

MORE TECH INFO HERE - Canon 35mm f/1.4

 

To me the 35mm is the king of kings in the still world and I think it is becoming a big favorite in the DSLR cinema world as well. We originally purchased this lens for portraiture but when we started shooting more and more motion projects it became our go-to lens for getting both wide and close up shots. The main reason why this lens is so loved ( not only by us ) is that it works well in so many different situations. For the still photographer, you can step back and capture groups of people and also go in close to get individual portraits as well. Another + on the still end is that the auto focus motors are extremely fast, so you can shoot from the hip effortlessly with this lens. Its perfect for traveling if you only have .5 seconds to grab a photo before someone tells you to put away your camera :)  

For video this lens is great because you can get a one shot, two shot, or even a good three shot with it if you are on the go and cannot change lenses. It is also great for timelapses because its wide, but not to the point where much distortion happens, so you can get some great composistions with it where straight lines are generally straight lines. 

We used the 35mm quite a bit when we shot in this video we created for Canon for the C300 launch event. Almost all of the detail / close up shots were with the 35mm.

My favorite things about this lens:

• Has a great F stop range (1.4!!)

• It has great close focusing distance, so you can get right up close to your subject. 

• It is sharp throughout the entire F stop range

• Despite it being a wide lens it doesn't distort when you are shooting up close or far away

• Works great on different crops 7D ( as 60mm approx. ), 1D M4 ( as a 45mm ) , 5D or the upcoming 1DX ( 45mm )

• Has great close focus for close ups or product shots

CONS: We don't currently own two of them and Danielle has made it clear that it is HER lens.

Other runners up:

 

MORE TECH INFO HERE - Canon 50mm f/1.2 L

 

PROS This lens is considered a "normal" lens, which means that, it being 50mm focal length it has minimal distortion and it also is very close to what we "see" with our eyes. You can try this out if you have any 50mm lens: hold up the camera to one eye and open the other and you will notice that it closely matches the "focal length" of what you see with your central vision. This can also be used as a storytelling device if you want to shoot something that would be as close to real life POV as possible.

This entire piece was shot with the 50mm in NYC. We used this is a ONE2ONE workshop that we taught there. 

• f / 1.2 -- low light baby! coupled with any camera, you can shoot in very little light at f / 1.2. 

• It has great close focusing distance, so you can get right up close to your subject. 

• The optics are extremely sharp. If you shoot at around f / 5.6 you'll be hitting the sweat spot of sharpness with this lens. 

• great portrait lens (for photo) or 1 or 2 shot frame composition (for video)

 

CONS can't find much bad to say about this lens or the focal length in general. 50mm lenses are an industry standard (in photography) Look up any vintage SLR on eBay and the kit lens is almost always a 50mm. 

 

MORE TECH INFO HERE - Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro IS

 

PROS This lens is becoming one of my new favorites. I liked the old 100mm for photography, but with the new version and addition of Image Stabilization it is an amazing lens for cinematography.

We used the 100mm in the opening record scene of the piece we created for ESPN - Sunday NFL Countdown 

A rundown of its strengths:

• Its great for detail shots because of close focal length

• The IS is incredibly good even when focused very close on moving subjects

• The focus throw / bokeh is buttery smooth 

• You can go from a medium shot and push all the way down to a close up

CONS this lens has a very short focal plane. Meaning that you have very little play in the focus between whats in-focus and sharp vs whats out of focus. So if you want to use this lens for action or fast moving subjects, it will be very difficult to keep or track focus. 

 

Below are the prime lenses that are almost always with us when we travel: 

MORE TECH INFO HERE - Canon 135mm f / 2.0 L

 

PROS This lens is great for the cost / glass ratio. It retails for under $1000 and its a extremely light for the focal length. The lens is also f / 2.0 which gives you buttery bokeh and a nice focus throw. It also has pretty decent close-focus abilities if you find yourself shooting in confined situations. 

 

CONS One thing to consider is that it does not have image stabilization, so at this focal length make sure you have some weight to your camera set-up / rig so you don't get to much unwanted shake or vibration in the image. 

 

MORE TECH INFO HERE - Canon 45mm TS f / 2.8

 

PROS tilt shift lenses are great for creating the look of focus distortion or miniaturization. Also when not tilted or shifted, it makes for a great "50mm ish" range lens that you can shoot with. It also has a more fluid focus ring akin to older style manual focus lenses, so its buttery smooth while focusing. Unlike other Canon lenses, it also has a hard stop to the focus as well, so if you are using this lens with a Follow Focus, you can accurately mark your distances and it will stay consistent. 

CONS While its a great normal focal length lens its not necessarily as sharp as the 50mm f / 1.2 or other similar focual length lenses. Also, I have found the the color rendition of this lens is different than other L - series lenses. I am guessing that it has to do with the different coating on the font of this lens. I find it to get warmer tones than the other lenses, so just know to test it out for yourself and adjust accordingly. 

 

MORE TECH INFO HERE - Canon 24mm f / 1.4 

 

PROS The 24mm is one of my favorites for wide-shot Steadicam work, or while using mini dollys like the Cinevate Atlas 30 cine slider. It's an extremely sharp lens throughout the focal range and its great for close focus work as well. It also can shoot in low light situations if need be. For wide master shots, it works great and has excellent edge-to-edge sharpness. 

CONS This lens does have distortion, so if you are filming people close up you'll be adding a few pounds to their overall on-camera physique. So that plus the other so called 10lbs that the camera adds itself, you'll be in bad shape for any close up glamour shots :) 

 

CLICK HERE TO BUY (Amazon) - Voightlander 58mm f / 1.4 Macro

 

PROS I don't currently own this lens any more, but it was always one of my favorites for two reasons. One: its a 58mm which give you a distinct look different than that of a 50mm or 45mm TS. Two: while its a 58mm, its also a close focus lens, so you can treat it like a macro, but the unique hint about it is its a "wider" macro. You can use it to get some pretty awesome shots if you need that extra punch of close-focus-ability. What I love about this is that you can go from a standard two shot and push all the way in to framing up someones eyes, mouth or nose, or even panning down to a letter in their hands, etc. 

CONS This lense is not always completely sharp throughout the focal range, but that is also because its a vintage lens, so the sharpness factor may vary. To be able to use this lens on a 5D / 7D / Mark IV / C300 you have to buy a Nikon to Canon mount adaptor. Here is a great place to buy them and they are amazingly cheap too ( under $30 ) www.fotodiox.com

 

These are the lenses that we bring on board for sports shooting or larger scale commercial / film productions:

MORE TECH INFO HERE - Zeiss CP. 2 (Compact Prime) 50mm T 2.1


PROS This lens is as sharp as they come and has 360 degrees of focus rotation (which is great for 1st AC's who will be pulling focus on shoots). Zeiss has also made these lenses available with interchangable lens mounts. It comes in both PL and Canon EF mount which is huge if you own a 5d but also are planning to use PL mount camreas like the Epic, Alexa, C300, etc. Investment wise, its a great lens to purchase because of the multitute of cameras that you can use it on.

CONS Its a larger lens with a huge diameter, so its definitely not as "compact" as the name implys. Its also a T 2.1 so it doesnt have the greatest low light capabilties. I found it hard to manually focus on the fly, so you would definitely want to add a follow focus for useage. But overall as an investment in a great prime, its a good buy. 

 

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO - ARRI Ultra Prime 20mm T 1.9

 

PROS This lens makes for one of my favorite wide angle PL mount lenses. Its sharp and crispy, definitely expected from any ARRI glass, but its also comes in at a hefty price --> $13,000.00

CONS For those of you used to focusing with DSLR still lenses, you will need a Follow Focus to focus this lens. It also has 360 degrees of rotation on the focus barrel as well, so a focus whip or knob will definitely come in handy in going from infinity to close focus.

 

MORE TECH INFO HERE - Canon 600mm f / 4.0

 

PROS While not the grand-daddy of telephoto lenses, this baby is sharp as a tack and focuses amazingly fast. It is also much lighter than you would think from seeing images of it. Our primary use for it is for shooting sports, where you need every inch of zoom to get right in on the action. We used this lens heavily while shooting both the 2010 & 2011 World Series with MLB. You can pick up either of these films on Amazon if your interested in what we shot and also to check out some imagery from the 600mm. 

CONS Since its a f / 4.0 it need a good deal of light in the glass, so if you are shooting at night, make sure  you have a camera that can handle high ISO speeds while using this lens. 

 

MORE TECH INFO HERE - Zeiss CP. 2 85mm T 2.1

 

PROS This lens is my favorite of the Zeiss Compact Prime line. Its got extremely nice bokeh and its tack sharp. What I love about this lens is that it has a very distinct look different than the other 85mm's that Ive used. Its got great contrast in the image and the close focus is slightly closer than the Canon 85mm prime. 

CONS It has a slower T stop than others and also since the outer diameter is so large it sometimes will interfere with some baseplates when using in a light monopod set-up (this goes for all the Zeiss CP lenses as they are all the same diameter). 

 

MORE TECH INFO HERE - ARRI Ultra Prime 40mm T 1.9

PROS Similar to the 35mm but with a little bit more push. It also has great close focus so you can get some pretty cool macro shots with this lens as well.

CONS same as other arri lenses. no additional cons. 

 

MORE TECH INFO HERE - ARRI Ultra Prime 65mm T 1.9

PROS 65mm is a unique focal length that you dont really see in any still lenses out there. I found when using the 65mm in the Super 35 format it makes for a perfect close up lens when focused in on one character or action. Its perfect for those moments when you want to start with the frame as a medium shot on one character and then push all the way into where their face fills the frame. Its the perfect lens for filming conversation between two people as well and cutting back and forth between the two angles. 

CONS Theres not many bad things to say about this lens. Again, just a large price tag so its more of a rental lens.

 Summary:

Whether your on a big budget commercial shoot, or doing a personal creative project, it's important to have the gear you need that will allow you to execute your creative vision. Lenses are an important tool in the filmmakers/visual storytellers tool kit. 

It is so important to invest in your gear and have a lot of tools to work with so you are prepared in any situation. One thing we do when we need more gear or want to test out a lens that we don't have is rent. One of our favorite places to rent from is LENSPROTOGO. We've been renting from them for a couple years now and they have downright amazing customer service. We have been able to get lenses from them quickly if we have a last minute shoot pop up or we are in a bind. Most of the time, i'll throw in a lens or two to try something new out, eventhough I might not need it for the shoot :)

We want to give our readers an opportunity to experience the awesomeness that is LensProToGo. So for the month of March the amazing folks there have been kind enough to offer @MINDCASTLE blog readers / twitter followers a 15% off code. So if you are like us and find yourself to be quite the lens addict, go ahead, add that extra lens or lenses to the order. Give a few more primes, or zooms, or a whole second camera a whirl. 

A Big thank you to all our readers & twitter followers for following our work, thoughts, and adventures. Viva 2012! 

Just type in the promo code below to get 15% off your rental order from March 1st - 31st! at WWW.LENSPROTOGO.COM ( promo code: MINDCASTLE15 )

 


***Keep in mind that this post is our opinion on lenses based on our own experiences. 

Check back later this month for Lenses Part 2: Zooms

Saturday
Feb182012

Panama | MLB

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to work on a project in Panama with MLB / @MLBProductions to capture elements for an upcoming show. It was a whirlwind trip full of working with good friends ( new and old ) eating amazing food, and capturing a ton of footage: We visited the Panama Canal, traveled to a remote fishing village, and interviewed the Panamaian President, Ricardo Martinelli 

I am stoaked at all the amazing footage we were able to capture in such a short time ( only there for 4 days ) It was great working with Mariano Rivera and meeting his family. He's definitely one of the most humble athletes around, and he spends most his time in Panama giving back to the community and inspiring local youth to play sports. Pretty badass dude. One of the highlights of the trip was filming and interview of him at his home near the ocean ( which is acually built just minutes away from where he grew up ).  

The temperature was at a 96F˚average during the day and a "cool" 84F˚ at night. Panama is one hot place. 

Below are a few screen grabs from my camera during the interview ( shot w/ Canon 5d Mark II ) 

And for the rest, a mix of behind-the-scenes iPhone & frame grabs shot with the 5d Mark II. 

 I arrived 2 hours before my flight, I was hoping I would be the first one at the gate but it looks like this guy had me beat. 

My flight to Panama left at 6:15AM from San Jose CA. Got to capture a bit of some great pre-sunrise pink sky. I tried as hard as possible to hold out until sunset, but fell asleep waiting for it :) 

Slate in Panama is "Claketa" Right after Panama I went striaght into another shoot in Seattle, almost called the slate Claketa a dozen or so times. 

The Crew at the Panama Canal: We were pretty stoaked that we got access to film in some pretty cool / restricted areas around the compound. From Left: Producer, Alfonso Pozzo, Location Sound, Jaun Caldera Cinematographer, Brian Schulz Cinematographer/Steadicam, Me


One thing I really love about Panama is how there is so much Color. From buildings to store fronts, everything is so colorful. I spotted this green doorway while roaming the city filming scenics. 

We found a perch up on a mountain top with a great view of the Panama Canal. Alfonso had been to that exact same place 10 years earlier filming another doc on Mariano. It was pretty cool that he found the same place to film from 10 years later. 


The tides are drastic in Panama City, often leaving huge stretches of beach without water for nearly half the day. In some parts, boats just rest on the ground until mid-day when the water comes back in and lifts them up again. 


Out on a location scout on a remote beach. 


This beer ranks in my top five favorites. Good stuff. 


Lots of great memories in Panama!