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The Concept of Ease in Filmmaking

In the place I am now, having recently graduated, looking/hoping/begging for work, and getting this internship and blog to learn from and play with, I feel privileged and prepared to go ahead and share a very quick reflection on a concept that I, and I’m sure countless others, have faithfully explored, willingly embraced, and so readily attempted to reject: ease. What follows are just some thoughts and ruminations, from an RBC intern, on the concept of ease in filmmaking. As I think and I ruminate, I am inspired by one of the coolest pieces of equipment I’ve been introduced to at Rule, the Kessler CineDrive: an amazing genius robot helper for all your pans, tilts, slides and more. Coming from a class of filmmakers rightfully obsessed with finding unique, professional, and visually stunning ways to capture the simplest and most complex of modern moments, the possibilities here, the ease with which we can achieve them, and the overall potential that the CineDrive represents are enormous! I’ve also been inspired by another one of the coolest pieces of equipment I’ve been presented with at Rule, the Arri 416 HS Plus 16mm film camera. It’s beautiful. I’ve gotten to experiment with 16mm film just one other very brief time in my life, and because of cameras like this, it sucks to think that the slowly dying “film” in “film school” could soon breathe it’s last breath. I’m very thankful that there are places that still have the resources to teach about film and encourage it to be used.  I don’t mean to say that shooting on film is at the other end of a spectrum, or that it’s necessarily hard, but it is kind of painstaking!  It’s also really different from what I and my generation has gotten used to. On shoots that I’ve been on and helped with, I always find myself wishing things could be a little easier, move faster, or become magically convenient. Hopefully, I’m not alone in this, but then I look at the crazy cardboard/tape/black wrap/diffusion thing in front of me and realize that ease is awesome, but so is hard work. The experience that has made me seriously crave the endless touch-ups and touchiest set-ups of each and every film set has been this internship. Knowing and learning about the tools to achieve ease, perfection — or dare I say both — has proven invaluable, making me that much more passionate about making movies. It’s also been really wonderful to be exposed to an evolution of filmmaking though RBC, because when I’m around people whose job it is to know the ins and outs of decades of equipment, it becomes fascinating to compare a modern marvel like the CineDrive, if it could be representative of the ease a filmmaker might, deep down, die for, to something like a 16mm film camera, if it could be representative of the perpetual fragility and exhaustion of filmmaking, as well as the amazing reward that results. Cat Haag, Summer 2014 Intern, intern@rule.com

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The Kessler CineDrive: A Robot with A Mind of Its Own?

Actually it’s a little more complicated than that. The CineDrive is a multi-axis motion control system that lets you pan, tilt, slide, zoom and even focus your camera. This piece of gear brings a whole new meaning to the word MOTION for your film or project. With one look at the CineDrive, the first thing that will come to mind is “WOW, with so many moving parts and connections, I’ll never be able to learn all this”.  Actually, the CineDrive is only as complicated as you make it — from a simple sliding and panning motion to a whole 6-hour time lapse that includes the zoom function — it’s really all about the type of shot you hope to achieve. With shot options including live-action, time-lapse and stop-motion, any of these settings will help your project come to life via motion.  How?  The CineDrive runs off software called kOS which can be controlled through an IPAD, PC or MAC.  This software communicates with the CineDrive’s main system called “The Brain”.  The Brain produces its own WIFI just like the GoPro.  You can connect the IPAD app wirelessly to the system, or if you don’t have WIFI, the Brain has an Ethernet port for a direct connection from your laptop. In order for the motor to work, the Brain is connected to motor control boxes (MCB), with each box designated with a different function including zoom, focus or slide. The pan/tilt functions are part of the main system so there are no extra boxes for pan/tilt. It also comes with a couple of different motors — one for the slide, one for the zoom function (for your lens), and another for focus. With all these options, there are endless possibilities for creating various shot movements. When first testing the CineDrive with the IPAD app, I found out it does not work well with the first generation IPADs, so you’ll want to make sure your IPAD or operating system is up-to-date.  The kOS app is frequently updated because it’s still considered pretty new. The weight limit is around 15 pounds! That’s actually a lot if you think about it since you won’t need a monitor on the camera with the CineDrive staying in one spot. For one of my tests with the CineDrive, I used the TS3Cine high-speed camera, and the ports were a little difficult to attach a monitor while also getting the SD card in and out. When people see the CineDrive they also think they need a slider, but (good news!), the CineDrive comes with a 100mm bowl mount that fits on tripod legs e.g., the Video 18 or Video 20. When using the CineDrive with a camera like the 5D Mark III or 7D, you can create a time-lapse with photos in the kOS software, giving you the ability to set the number of photos you want to take within a certain amount of time. For example, say you want to take 1000 photos in 2 hours with a set frame rate.  All you need is a simple cable connection to make it happen! The Kessler CineDrive is great for filmmakers who enjoy the more technical aspect of shooting.  While a good amount of preparation goes into the set-up, you have a good number of options and flexibility.   RSVP: events@rule.com for my upcoming Learning Lab with the CineDrive on Wednesday, July 23rd from 10am-12n.  If you can’t make it in person, you can watch it later on our vimeo channel at https://vimeo.com/channels/rulelearninglabseries. –Scott Pierce, QC, pierce@rule.com