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Eric S. Filsonfilmmaker & cinematographer

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!


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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.

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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.

MōVI in Action (Quick Video) from Vincent Laforet on Vimeo.

Here's what FreeFly says about the MōVI M10:

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.”

Additional MōVI M10 Features:
+ Majestic Mode
+ Translation Compensation
+ Live wireless tuning & graphing
+ Remote Firmware Updatable
+ Drift Free Horizon
+ Silent Drive
+ Shot Recorder
+ Custom Direct Drive Motors
+ User adjustable shakey cam

Vincent LaForet shot a short film that showcases this technology:

MōVI from Vincent Laforet on Vimeo.

MōVI BTS from Vincent Laforet on Vimeo.

Here is another video showing off FreeFly's remote arial platform:

ROAM from Freefly on Vimeo.

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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.
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A friend sent me a link from The Verge on Stan Winston Studios building of the mechanical T-Rex. The videos and interviews are fascinating. Check it out:

Jurassic Park may have helped revolutionize modern CG animation in movie-making, but out of the 14 minutes of dinosaurs in the movie, only four were completely generated by computers. Practical effects played a huge role, and none so much as a monstrous 40-foot long, 9,000-pound tyrannosaurus rex that the team built out of good old steel and hydraulics.

Stan Winston Studios was the effects house behind the animatronic creatures for the film, and it’s released 12 minutes of archival footage of the T. rex build, featuring commentary from engineers who worked on the project. “I don’t think anything has ever been attempted before or since that is as ambitious,” says Richard Landon, the project’s mechanical department coordinator. Granted, it’s a menacing sight in the workshop, but if you want to see the creature in all its glory, we’d recommend heading to an IMAX theater this week for a showing of Jurassic Park 3D.

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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!

Here's what
Julien Lasseur on the hurlblog says:

"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."
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Imagine being able to use your iPad as a control surface for editing. That would not only be cool, but really practical. Jeff Chow has come up with a creative concept called CTRL+Console and is using Kickstarter to fund the project. Consider jumping in and helping out with this innovative app development - the future is here!

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The Black and The Blue just released a new set of camera pocket guides. If you are a DP or camera assistant, these might be helpful for you.
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There has been much speculation and discussion on the new Black Magic Cinema Camera (BMCC) how it will perform and how it compares to current DSLR cameras on the market. Marco Solorio from One River Media has done a test to see how it holds up to the new Canon 5D Mk III. Here's his description of this video:

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.

Marco Solorio

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I recently ran across this short film by Tyler Stableford that showcases the Nikon 1DX. The landscapes of Colorado are amazing and the cinematography is captures the winter well. The description for his short reads:

When you've given everything, what do you have left?
After achieving his dream summit, an elite climber finds himself empty. Broken and untethered, he searches for a fulfillment more lasting than a faraway peak.


Here are three behind the scenes featurettes:

Shattered Behind the Scenes: Episode 1-An Idea is Born

Shattered Behind the Scenes: Episode 2-Putting the Idea into Motion

Shattered Behind the Scenes: Episode 3-The Movie Making Begins

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Peter Jackson has been busy over the past several years with the production of The Hobbit. The first installment titled The Hobbit an unexpected Journey is set to be released December 13, 2012.

On July 24th another installment of the hobbit production diaries was released. More of the diaries can be viewed on Peter Jackson's YouTube channel, or the official Hobbit Blog.

If you haven't seen the official trailer yet here it is:

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Side by Side a documentary by Keanu Reeves is released today on VOD services like iTunes, amazon, and vudu.
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This morning I ran across a new documentary that is going to have a limited release in August titled Side by Side. After watching a movie last night (that didn’t have Keanu Reeves in it) I randomly wondered what Keanu had been up to and decided to IMDB him. Interestingly enough, he’s been working on a documentary and the trailer looks fascinating. Here’s the description:

For almost one hundred years there was only one way to make a movie — with film.
Movies were shot, edited and projected using photochemical film. But over the last two decades a digital process has emerged to challenge photochemical filmmaking.

SIDE BY SIDE, a new documentary produced by Keanu Reeves, takes an in-depth look at this revolution. Through interviews with directors, cinematographers, film students, producers, technologists, editors, and exhibitors, SIDE BY SIDE examines all aspects of filmmaking — from capture to edit, visual effects to color correction, distribution to archive. At this moment when digital and photochemical filmmaking coexist, SIDE BY SIDE explores what has been gained, what is lost, and what the future might bring.
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This morning I ran across Why - a short film by Corey Rich which showcases the new Nikon D4. He shot the content for this short film based on three different outdoor athletes, in three unique geographic locations - all in 12 days. Corey did a marvelous job in capturing incredible snippets and really getting amazing coverage and adding real production value.

When you watch his film I really see the production value and the quality of the shooting stands out. Cory’s team hauled a lot of gear around and had a lot of tools at his disposal. One of the unique tools he had was a
hoverfly - a remote controlled camera platform that enabled some amazing arial shots and camera moves. Between a jib, motion controlled slider, and the hoverfly, he was able to pull of beautifully crafted moving shots.

Camera movement really is a huge factor in adding production value to a production. The movement tools that are being built combined with the compact camera sizes lend to amazing portability that once wasn’t possible. I believe that we are just seeing the beginning of what indy filmmakers are going to do with the amazing tools being developed.

You can find out more about Corey’s project in his
blog post.

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