Posted on

Get Your MoVI Moving: Part 1

The buzz of excitement around the MoVI M10 by Freefly Systems is something for the record books. Every website is featuring articles on the M10, and test footage is being posted daily. I haven’t seen anything like it since the RED One was launched at NAB back in 2007. This three-axis brushless gimbal system really is a game changer in my opinion. After working with the unit for some time, I have gotten over the “hype” and started to realize the practicality of the unit and how it may start to change the way we think of putting a project together.

Dolly Track, Operators, Jibs, Cranes, and much more won’t be a thing of the past, but, if one is working on a budget, there is a solution now that will help to cut down on all of these costs.  Sure, it may cost a nice chunk of change to buy, but renting the M10 is a great option. Less bodies and gear on set has never been a bad thing. One MoVI Operator, One Focus Puller, One Remote Control Operator and a Director sounds like a great production day. It’s that simple, and you can create a look that would take days of pre-production and hours of assembly on set to achieve. When you go to playback that first shot, trust me, you will be blown away at what you just captured in such a minimal manner. After seeing what was possible with the M10, it was time to push it to the limits. Why not run with it at full speed and see what happens? Well, what happened was a shot that was so unbelievably smooth, I had to watch it three times! The footage was so much better than I expected. Then we received the Ninja Star Adapter.  At that point, I hadn’t heard much about what this would open up in terms of shooting with the MoVI. Boom!!! I grabbed the Porta-Jib and attached the MoVI to the Jib in an under-slung fashion, and it was time to rock. The results were hands-down the most responsive Remote Head I have ever worked with. Oh, and just to remind you all…it was Smoooooth!! The ten-pound load capacity that the M10 offers may scare one away at first. Fear not, you can achieve a very high level of production while using the unit for your project. Are you looking to work with the RED Epic? Consider it a done deal and with accessories. Let’s use a Wireless Follow Focus System with that Zeiss Superspeed, and, of course, you want to transmit to a Wireless Monitor as well. All of these high-level production needs are possible with just a bit of tinkering and patience. Oh, you say that you work with the Canon 5D MIII, Black Magic Cinema Camera, FS700, Canon C300, or C100? Not a problem in the least bit. All of these cameras will pair just perfectly with the MoVI M10, and the footage will be oh so smooooth!!!! -Dylan Law, QC Tech, law@rule.com JOIN RBC’S MIKE SUTTON AND DYLAN LAW FOR AN INTRO TO THE MOVI M10 LEARNING LAB ON WED., 2/26 FROM 10AM-12N.  RSVP: EVENTS@RULE.COM.

Posted on

And then the camera moves left…

How often when storyboarding your next project, do you plot in a camera move? I mean a major one, not just a tilt up or pan left. I know that in my own projects, it’s been a long time since I planned for a large move. Without an entire G&E department to support my projects or the budget for a Steadicam operator, I just want to keep everything as easy for myself as possible.  But I also know that by skipping this, I’m wasting a big part of the beauty of motion pictures. Now that I’m interning at Rule, I’ve had the chance to see a few options for camera moves that might be within reach for my own projects. In less than a month, I’ve seen jibs and a Steadicam rig, as well as two options that I think could really work for my next project… the Easy Jib by Grip Control and a Doorway Dolly. The first, the Easy Jib (as you may know if you’ve ever seen it before) is basically a large slider. This is the perfect tool for getting roughly a five foot move into your project. It’s long, but not very heavy, and doesn’t have a ton of add-ons, so you can easily get it into a third floor walk-up. You can put it on a table or a counter or on two stands or even on the floor for a nice low angle. It’s also easy to operate with only one person. Just a gentle hand to guide the glider and the other can pan or rack focus. The only real cons are the limited size and the fact that you really need an external monitor. It’s not easy to follow an eyepiece with this dolly. The other dolly, the Doorway Dolly, is another great option, albeit a much bigger, less easily transported one. But there’s no need to wrangle a bunch of track with this dolly. It has four reasonably quiet rubber tires and can hold a standard size tripod. As you can guess, though, you need at least two people to pull off any camera moves with this dolly. One person to drive and one person along for the ride to operate the camera. Additionally, I found that the steering, while relatively easy, is not an exact science. Without tracks to guarantee an exact mark, you could end up just to left or right of where you wanted to be. This could make for a focusing nightmare if you’re working in low-light, wide-open aperture situations. Overall, I like both of these options. Both get the camera moving around the room without a cumbersome track system and without much added to your gear list. They might seem slightly unromantic compared to other options that are out there, but sometimes all you need is a little utility to get the job done well! Happy filming! – Rachel Wiederhoeft, Fall 2013 Intern

Posted on

General Audio Kits

When working on a films, I’ve noticed that sound is typically the thing I’m least worried about. This isn’t because it is an easy, insignificant part of filmmaking, because it’s the exact opposite. Sound is a very important part of a film, and does just as hard of a job of telling a story and evoking feeling as story, acting, and cinematography. That is why I’ve come to acclimate myself with the various equipment used for recording sound. The first, and most important instrument in sound production is the Sound Device 702 recorder. This piece of equipment has two sound channels, XLR and BNC outputs, records to compact flash cards, and has easily navigable menus. On top of all this, it is made of a sturdy (albeit heavy) material that will prevent simple destruction or damages. The 702 recorder works well with the Sound Devices 302 mixer. Along with the recorder, the mixer is an extremely compact, portable, and ergonomic device. Its three channels are easily monitored and adjusted, requiring little time to learn. As for devices for gathering sound, I have found that there are numerous options. Obviously there is the array of dynamic and condenser microphones (cardioids, hyper-cardioids, omni-directional microphones, and so on). The latter are the typical “shotgun” microphones that are mounted on top of cameras, or found at the end of boom poles. They are the go-to microphones for filmmaking. For scenarios in which condenser microphones aren’t practical – such as for wide shots when boom poles risk being seen and camera microphones are too far for authentic sound – then there is a wireless alternative: lavalier microphones. Rather than looking for a ficus to hide a condenser microphone in, a lavalier microphone is wireless, and can be mounted and hidden on the actors and acquire usable sound. When I say usable sound, I mean sound that doesn’t quite come to par with condensers, but considering the situation, they get the job done. Many times filmmakers will gawk at the idea of using lavalier microphones because of a lav’s potentially inferior quality (especially when you have cats in the scene – they’ll play with the little bobbing microphone like a ball of yarn). However, the day will come when your boom pole will catch fire, and all you’ll have left are these bad boys. On the subject of wireless sound devices, there is an astoundingly useful tool for filmmakers to use behind the camera: the HME 800 or HME PRO 850. These are kits with 5 headsets with built-in microphones that are used like walkie-talkies (however, with many more batteries required). This intercom kit is so practical that its uses are near limitless. On set crew can communicate swiftly without running around; assistant directors can let a set know what the afternoon schedule looks like; and in a case where a shot requires multiple cameras with operators, a director of photography can give each one of them commands without any issues. The HME 800, and the HME PRO 850, are both quite intuitive devices and require very little time to learn and grow accustomed with. Even though they aren’t used for the creative part of filmmaking, “in front of the camera,” they are priceless assets for effective and efficient management on a set. This amalgamation of sound devices each has their own strengths and weaknesses. The benefit with having each of these items on your film set provides you with options, and options create flexibility, and flexibility leads to efficiency. -Kyle Huemme, Fall 2013 Intern, Curry College

Posted on

Falloff Rates and Dimmer Accuracy

Built-in Dimmers are oh-so-convenient. If a cloud screws up the relation of an artificial fill or you just want less heat on the side of her face, bliss is just a twist away. But how useful are these built-in dimmers in creating dramatic changes in exposure? Are the dimmers really calibrated to be useful to a precise cinematographer? I tested three popular lights to compare which lights had the most useful dimmer system: the 1×1 Lightpanel (LED), the Kinoflo Diva (daylight fluorescent), and the Bron Kobold 400 Watt All-Weather System (HMI). The criterion for a “useful dimmer” included a consistent fall-off rate in exposure (f-stop) as the light is dimmed (proportionally) and accurate visual measurement markings around the knob corresponding to the change in brightness measured. If I’ve turned the knob halfway but the light hasn’t cut down at all, I’m not happy.

And just so that this blog post isn’t too technical or stuffy, we won’t do any math or go over the scientific proceedings. Just know it involved me, a light meter, some blocking tape, and a garage with no outside light. And we’ll refer to my crudely drawn and scanned-in graph (below) to draw some lofty conclusions.

If you glance briefly at the graphs (but don’t scrutinize them too much) you’ll see the LED easily wins for best dimmer system. Its results form the closest semblance of a linear graph. Even more surprisingly, I found that the incremental knob markings accurately cut the light between a ½ or full stop all the way to the 25 mark. Second place goes to the Kinoflo Diva. It got off to a rocky start, but eventually started dimming noticeably. However, I quickly realized that the dimmer markings were more of a nice yellow design and not meant to be accurate in the least. The arbitrariness of the Kinoflo Diva, regardless of marked change near the end, make it useful for quick, sizable adjustments, but it is not nearly as precise and nuanced as the LED. Furthermore, it can turn from 4 bulbs to 2 bulbs, which probably mirrors its dimmer in its restrictedness. So what’s the point of the dimmer? The HMI finished last—and who could blame him? HMIs already rock and have nothing to prove (this one is even waterproof) but if it’s not going to dim in any noticeable way, don’t waste our time with a dimmer system. Perhaps this is due to a poorly executed experiment (I’m a film major, take it easy), or maybe the HMI takes longer to warm up to its dimmer settings. But those last minute touches can’t freeze a shoot for five minutes as the HMI gets its act together. Clearly, then, the HMI has arbitrary markings on its ballast and isn’t too concerned with dimming itself. But it is still the brightest. We’ll give it a point for that. Here’s the data if you really really really like dimming/mood lighting/being picky about exposure/like turning knobs. KINOFLO Diva (fluorescent) Full = f/8 2 clicks dimmed= f/8 4 clicks dimmed = f/8 6 clicks dimmed= f/8 7 clicks dimmed= f/5.6 8 clicks dimmed= f /2.8-4 split 9 clicks dimmed = f/2 all the way down (but not off)= f/1.4 Bron Kobold 400 Watt All-Weather System (HMI) Full= f/8-11 split 1 click= f/8 and ¼ 2 clicks= f/8 3 clicks= f/8 4 clicks= ¼ under f/8 5 clicks = f/5.6-8 split 6 clicks = f/5.6-8 split off= underexposed. 1×1 Lightpanel (LED) 100%= f/8 90%= f/ 5.6-8 split 80%= ¼ under f/5.6 75%= f/4 65%= f/2.8-4 split 50%= f/2-2.8 split 35% = f/2 25%= underexposed 15%= underexposed off= underexposed -Bryan Sih, Fall 2013 Intern, Boston University

Posted on

Shooting with the Ringlite Mini: Siiiick!

I was about to shoot a music video for a friend who is in a local Boston rock band called Nervous. We threw ideas around for a while, but we ended up with a pretty simple concept of a girl bumming around her house and eventually going on a bike ride. Not very complex, but who cares, it’s a music video! Our friend Marianne who would play the girl, had recently gotten into a bike accident. She had a busted up hand with a brace on it, and her eyeball had a few broken blood vessels in it. I felt these physical attributes would make the content weirder, and so I decided to accentuate them. For the opening shot, which is a close up of Marianne’s face, we used the Litepanels Ringlite Mini to make her eyes look even more bizarre. Specs of red in the white of her eye, and a ring of white in the pupil. It looked mad cool. I would even go as far as to say it looked dope.

The original intent of using the Ringlite was to gain a certain effect for all of the interior apartment scenes. I wanted it to look a bit like “Grey Gardens” and a bit like Fiona Apple’s video for “Criminal”. Both of these pieces use some type of camera mounted light. “Grey Gardens” being a doc with many dimly lit interiors, does it for necessity.

Grey Gardens

“Criminal”employs a drastic spotlight effect in interior spaces as a stylistic choice.

Criminal Music Video.
I wanted to meet in the middle between these two looks. I had the Ringlite mounted for every interior shot. Obviously it didn’t end up being the prettiest footage in the world, but that wasn’t the point of doing it. It gave the desired effect. As the camera moves in the wide shots, you can see the light fall off around all edges of the frame. As Marianne moves through the frame, her body  gets darker and lighter depending on her distance from the camera. Her skin even blows out a bit in the times where she briefly gets very close to the camera. I made her do many tasks around the house like wash dishes,make coffee, play video games, answer the phone, and change sweaters a number of times. All things that are somewhat dexterous, and that would accentuate the inconvenience of the hand brace. All of my close ups I did almost too close. When I would have normally used a 65 or an 85, instead I used a 135. I was changing lenses frequently, but the Ringlite wasn’t much of a hassle. It slides on and off with the greatest of ease. I had a pretty minimal setup with a Sony F3, set of Zeiss Superspeeds and the Ringlite. I had a couple other lights that I used sparingly. So I used the Ringlite for two totally different purposes and they both worked out splendidly. It’s easy to mount, very lightweight, and has a ton of adjustability and light level control. It’s siiiiiick. -Sam Smith, QC Technician, smith@rule.com