Dated: Friday, June 10, 2011
I just had the pleasure of working [for the 1st time] with Boulevard Films for an incredibly cool NC LOTTERY spot..this sci-fi genre piece was an homage to the JJ Abrams STAR TREK film.
Seriously..when I 1st read the script and saw the set drawing
..I had NO idea what to expect.
It suffices to say I was freaking' blown away!
These guys built one helluva set!
Interactive LCD displays, lots of flashing indicator lights and control panels, etc...
Even the required revolving captain's chair!
Zack Resnicoff directed and kept me on my toes with lots of moving camera shots.
Angela Street produced.
We tried to give it the JJ Abrams' TREK look with lots of lens flares!
I think we succeeded.
Dated: Friday, June 10, 2011
These are NOT 2-point star filters!!
You will LOVE these guys!
I had several projects where we wanted the classic look of the old Panavision "C" series of horizontal lens flares...slig
ht blue in color due to the lens coatings.
But, as usual, budgets dictated otherwise.
So I bought a Lomo 37-144mm Russian zoom with CinemaScope [aka: anamorphic] front.
I had these PL mounted.
Yes, it did flare..somewhat...but I wasn't thrilled by its performance.
But once the new JJ brams STAR TREK movie came out..holy crap! Everyone wanted intense horizontal lens flares..these were beautiful!
Yes, they used actual Panavision anamorphic lenses on the new
TREK, and they created those fantastic flares by hand-holding HMI pocket PARS on the sides of the frame [just barely out of frame].
Unfortunately, 'scope optics like these are usually very hard to rent..and for a lot of projects, totally beyond the reach of their budget.
So OPTEFEX created a series of 'Streak" filters which re-create this look and these filters can be used on any standard spherical lens ['spherical lens' means any regular non-anamorphic lens..be it a prime or zoom]
These filters come in a variety of colors: white [clear], blue, red, green, yellow, etc..
They also come in a variety of strengths: 1mm, 2mm, 3mm and 4mm.
The number of the strength is actually the size in millimeters of the tiny embedded rods inside these filters.
The filter is constructed by a series of tiny glass [?] rods which are sandwiched between optical grade glass. The 'color' of the flare is due to a light coating of dye on the sides of these rods..yet the overall image is not affected by this color..white is still neutral.
The rods vary in size from 1mm to 4mm in diameter...1mm being the most intense of the flare effect, 4mm the lightest.
Anders Uhl from the DOP SHOP [www.thedopshop.com] was kind enough to let me try out an entire set of these filters to see which one or more I would buy.
Personally, for me, I chose the blue 1mm [the 'blue' was due to the classical blue flares which the older anamorphic optics displayed]. The 1mm was a great flare and it seemed to be the only size which didn't display any of the v
ertical banding I saw in the higher strengths in the highlights across a wide range of focal lengths.
Now I was shooting 4K
rez on one of my REDS and did not have an opportunity to do a film test..I'd love to some day, but time wouldn't allow it.
The other sizes of filter strengths: 2mm, 3mm & 4mm might work fine for someone else, so please do not discount them based upon my thoughts..go do your own damn test! :-)
I have used the Optefex Blue 1mm Streak filter a BUNCH! I'd also like to buy a clear 1mm as well ['clear' is also called 'white' I believe].
You need to play around with these filters and light sources t
o achieve the right flare. Take a few hours and play before hitting the stage..you'll appreciate the time you took to work out the means and methods for the flares.
I used pocket PARs on the sides of the frame for the music videos..had them rigged on c-stands underslung and the grips simply slid them up & down throughout the takes.
For the STARSHIP spot, we wanted the JJ Abrams look..we used Lekos & Jokers, sometimes playing with colored gels. We oftentimes had to handhold these fixtures due to the abrupt camera work.
Dated: Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Dated: Monday, September 29, 2008
The LensBaby is a wild and wonderful cool tool.
As a DP, I’ve used the Swing/Tilt, also called Swing-Shift, lenses for years.
The LensBaby is a TON smaller and has a similar yet different look. I usually think of the LensBaby as a cross between the Swing-Shift lenses and the SqushyLens [remember Clairmont Camera’s sticker on the SquishyLens: MERCILESS CRUSHING FORCE!].
The LensBaby does a similar effect as the S & T’s, yet it has a bit more ‘organic’ look to it. The effect is very soft on the perimeter of the frame, with the center of frame sharper. You can easily adjust the amount of soft to sharp focus either before the shot, or you can grab the lens and torque it during the shot for a great effect.
The newer 3G LensBaby has the ability to lock the degree of focus with the 3 threaded rods [which you can see in the photos]. This lock can be pre-set during set up and then loosened during the shot so you can manually adjust it any way you please while rolling.
There is also a separate focus ring to adjust ‘fine’ focus in the center of the LensBaby.
There is NO iris.
To adjust the exposure [note: the LensBaby is a T2 lens] you must use the ‘WaterHouse Iris Rings’. These are cool little drop-in ‘washer’-like rings with various size center holes. This is really ‘Fred Flintstone’ technology! These little rings [approx 1” in diameter] are actually punched or cut from thin magnetic sheets [like those used on truck-door signs or magnetic business-card ‘fridge magnets]. These rings simply drop into the LensBaby and hold themselves in via their magnetic properties. To remove them, the LensBaby kit has a small magnet mounted on a plastic stick which allows you to pluck the ring out. They all store in a container which also has this small magnetic stick.
I took a set of small numeric punches and ‘engraved’ the T-stops on these rings with a hammer, otherwise, you must use a Xeroxed chart to pick the correct ring…who has time for that?
The LensBaby is a set focal length of 50mm. You can use a .45X lens adapter to achieve a wider focal length of 22.5mm if you wish. Unfortunately, these wide-angle adapters are not the best of optics and tend to shift your contrast & sharpness to areas I try to stay away from. Use at your own risk.
But seriously, 50mm is WONDERFUL and when shooting at a wide open T2, you really can achieve a great look.
The really nice thing on shooting with the LensBaby on the RED is the fact that you really can see exactly what you are getting! To see true crisp [or soft] focus with such a lens on a sweet monitor is great. Normally, on a ground-glass video assist, the image is so poor that your assistant or the director/clients cannot really see what is being shot properly…and that is hell the next day when the dailies arrive!
With the RED, you see, they see, everyone sees what you are doing..and if they like it or have a problem with it, they can speak up or forever hold their peace!!
FYI, the LensBaby 3G has a ‘universal’ mount, so you can attach other types of lens/camera mounts to it. I have a PL mount for mine and my additional mounts are Nikon & a B-4 mount [in case I have to fall back to the dark ages and use it on a ‘broadcast’ camera].
Plus, it’s cool to do a scout or make-up/hair test with a stills camera like a Nikon or Canon [yes, they make a Canon mount as well] and use the lensbaby to check things out before the shoot.
Please note that the best effect with this type of lens is when shooting wide open or as close to it as you can. With the RED, which has no internal ND filters, I would either switch my shutter speed to adjust for exposure or mount an ND filter in front of the lens. The front of the LensBaby has a 36.5mm [I guess] threaded filter ring which would allow you to screw-in an ND or whatever you wish.
I’ve attached several frame grabs from TV spots & music videos I’ve shot with the LensBaby…note how it elongates highlights such as the chrome reflections on the drum set!!!
Also, note the photos of the LensBaby in action on my Red, see how it tilts up & down & all around!
I would not suggest hand-holding the camera with this lens simply because you need one hand free to play with the LensBaby…on a dolly or sticks with a fluid head [not a gear head..again, you need 1 hand for the lens]. This is really not a
lens which your assistant can help you much with. Sometimes, maybe, but most of the time the operator is alone in operating both pan+tilt and the LensBaby…that’s just the way it is.
After reading online about the problems inherent with the CMOS 'rolling shutter' effect, which plagues all CMOS cameras such as the RED ONE, I approached an upcoming 'storm shoot' with some major apprehension.
tried to contact anyone who had already shot faux lightning storms using the Lightning Strikes super-strobe units, but I had no luck.
So, I tried to re-create this effect with large still-photography studio strobes. These seemed hit or miss and probably 50% of the time I did perceive the split exposure across the frame of the notorious "rolling shutter".
We even played with DSLRs of various makes... seems the cheaper the point & shoot camera was, the better the flash! Who knew....
Finally, literally days before the shoot date, I managed to get a hold of the president of Lightning Strikes himself!I asked him about the RED's ability to expose a full frame of his Lightning Strikes units (without the rolling shutter effect) and he said that although he didn't have any real experience with the RED and his lamps, he was fairly confident that there should not be any problem... he suggested I set the flash control from 'constant' to 'adjustable' and make sure that the sparks who controlled those units didn't play too fast with the ignition button. So, 40+ feet in the air on condors, we aimed our lamps over the intended scene, condors on both sides of a suburban home.
Rain trees were rigged in other man-lifts & condors as well as giant Ritter fans and a 30' Cam-Mate with which to haul my new RED through the blasts of water from the rain-trees!
As darkness fell, we fired up the
gennys and hit the Lightning Strikes buttons and created all sorts of havoc!
Zero rolling shutter effect!!!
WOW! Was I happy!
It really was a beautiful lightning effect with none of the typical split exposed frames which you get from smaller still-photography strobes.