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The Sony FX9 is HERE + We’re EXCITED!

UPDATE: The Sony PXW-FX9 is now available to Rent! This blog post was written before its arrival, but we’re no less excited! Please, read on to learn why and reach out to Rentals to book by email or phone (800-rule-com).

Today, I wanna talk about the newly announced Sony FX9, a camera I couldn’t be more excited for… But before I do that, we need to talk about some history.

The Year: 2014. Latvia has just adopted the Euro, Birdman and Whiplash have made Jazz drumming the official soundtrack of the year, and Dr. Dre became a billionaire after selling some headphones to Apple.

It was a time of transition in our industry, and Sony decided to make a big move in the cinema camera market. At this point, Sony’s lineup was based mostly around the F55 and F5, twin cameras that spanned the $15-25K market. We tend to see large manufacturers borrowing technology from their higher-end cameras and spinning it off into lower tier models, and in 2014 Sony swung for the fences. They borrowed the sensor from their popular F5 cinema camera, stuck it in a cheaper, shoulder-friendly model — and released the PXW-FS7.

People. Freaked. Out. 

The FS7 went head-on against Canon’s massively popular C300, and the mid-tier cinema market changed. The FS7 was popular for a host of reasons, but the one that stuck out most and really set it apart was the form factor. Sony decided that, sometimes, it’s nice to put a camera on your shoulder. Borrowing designs from Super-16 Aatons, not to mention a carbon copy of their hand grip, the FS7 was unlike any other camera – because it looked most like a camera. The best part was the price point – coming in around $8K, compared to Canon’s C300 that sold closer to $15K.

The FS7 was updated a few years later with the FS7 II. The model was exactly the same, specs-wise, but had the addition of the FS5’s Variable ND filter system. Sony also created a new locking E-Mount to deal with the hefty lenses shooters were pairing with the camera. The mirrorless, small flange distance E mount lent itself well to adapting — and the smart cropping modes for the 4K sensor meant that you could use pretty much any lens you could get your hands on. 

The FS7 was, at the time, a powerhouse of specs. Full DCI 4K up to 60fps, HD up to 180fps – a RAW back for 12bit RAW up to 240fps at HD. The camera was scalable, somewhat modular, and fit on pretty much anyone’s shoulder out of the box – no need for third party shoulder pads and accessories. 

The interesting piece of this story is that even in today’s camera landscape, the FS7 II is still an extremely capable camera at its price point. It’s still more powerful than the C300II, having no issues with crop and high frame rates, and is in line with great color options in Slog3. So, what could they improve on? 

That brings us to today, the Fall of 2019 — 5 years since the FS7’s release. The industry has been waiting patiently for a true update to the FS7, and an FS7 III had been rumored for years. In September, Sony announced the PXW-FX9 – something much more than a small update to the line, and, in fact, a whole new model with something very different to bring to the table, all while keeping what worked with the FS7 in mind. 

Just as the original FS7 borrowed some DNA from it’s older brothers, the FX9 is no different. Sony’s new flagship VENICE camera has made some serious waves in the industry, offering not only an amazing full frame 6K image — but a new color science that has DP’s second guessing their ARRI and RED cameras. This is a huge step for Sony. As a colorist, I hear the “it’s an ok camera but it has that Sony video look” quite a bit — a claim I find entirely foolish. The offering of a true wide gamut and log gamma mean that the camera looks however you want it to — and if it looks too “video-y,” then you’re doing it wrong. That point aside, the VENICE is beautiful. The new color, paired with the full-frame look, is something to behold.

And that’s where the FX9 comes from, borrowing the new color science and sporting a brand new 6K imager. Now, that doesn’t mean it can record full 6K like it’s older sibling (currently), but what it does mean is that it creates a wonderfully deep image from the 6K to 4K debayer. If you know anything about sensors, you know that you don’t necessarily want to shoot the native resolution of a CMOS sensor – ideally you want a larger resolution to debayer a better image from. This is how the original C300 made its HD image look so nice, even though it had a 4K sensor. The C300II uses a similar 4K sensor to shoot 4K, and it really doesn’t shine as brightly as it should for that reason.

The FX9 has an entirely new body, and while it’s price point is somewhat higher than the original FS7 – I think the extra costs have been put in the right places. It’s more rugged, built tougher, and looks amazing. Using the same media as the FS7, XQD (now called CFexpress and being widely adopted by plenty of other manufacturers) means one doesn’t have to worry about corrupt cards and all the problems that come with CFast2.0 — a media format I’d describe as straight garbage.

The FX9 still has the option for an external RAW back, just like the original XDCA unit, but this time it’s pushing out 16Bit RAW. 

Preorders are available now, with it due to ship in December 2019. We’re pretty confident that this camera is going to be THE camera for mid-tier cinema uses. Commercial, doc, streaming, even TV – all in that glorious full frame field of view. Look for an update once ours arrive!

-Alex Enman, Engineer

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Spots Available! Hands-on Internship for Spring Semester

CALLING ALL STUDENTS! Join Rule Boston Camera for our Spring Semester Internship starting in January and ending in April for 2 days a week of high-level training and hands-on access to the latest film and video equipment and technology.  You’ll learn the basics from our team in the Quality Control Department with exposure to the in’s and out’s of Rentals and Engineering along with demos of the latest and most popular gear from our tech team.

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Interested? Send resumes to Dylan Law at law@rule.com. This is an unpaid internship.

Click here to see our Interns in action.

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Rent the Angenieux Optimo Ultra 12x Zoom Lens at 25% Off in June

The best just got better! Rent the Angenieux Optimo Ultra 12x Zoom lens at 25% off all-month-long!

The Angenieux Optimo Ultra 12x Zoom Lens, with new optical and mechanical design, delivers unparalleled optical performance and mechanical reliability.  

Angenieux’s Interchangeable Rear Optics technology allows for the lens to be switched between 3 modes of coverage: Super 35mm, Ultra 35mm, and, coming soon, Full Frame/VistaVision.

Features include improved optical and mechanical design, no ramping, minimal breathing, superior optical characteristics, 321 degree focus ring with over 70 marks, and top carry handle. Click here to read Alex Enman’s blog post on this “multi-format monster”. 

Rent it for 25% off the regular rental rate of $695/day in June! Contact Rentals by email or phone at 800-rule-com for details, including multi-day rates.
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Meet the Flexible + Foldable Aladdin Fabric-Lite 350W

The Aladdin Fabric-Lite 350W is our newest LED 3×3 panel that can be folded and flexed.  I’ve found that the best part about this light is its flexibility — because it’s made of fabric, it can easily be folded and packed into a backpack. This makes it easy to take pretty much anywhere.

The Fabric-Lite  can be mounted onto its frame with a diffuser and grid, or you can simply hang it wherever you need it. There are literally NO restrictions for where this light can go…

I took the Fabric-Lite on a recent shoot to NYC, and it was the perfect choice. I folded and packed it away in my camera bag for traveling, and when it came time to use it, I tied it up high around a pillar to use as a fill light.

Another fantastic feature about this light is that you are not restricted to AC power. It comes equipped with two gold mount plates for your battery power needs, which makes it easy to use. The light has a color temperature range of 2900 to 6200k with a CRI of 97.

Interested in renting the Aladdin Fabric-Lite 350W? Contact Rentals by email or phone at 800-rule-com.

Alex Lopez, Quality Control Technician

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Holiday Hours: Closed 12/31 and 1/1

We will be closed New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, December 31st and January 1st to ring in the new year with family and friends. Please reach out to us at our main number (617-277-2200) with any emergencies. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for your business in 2018 and for allowing us to support every type of production — from passion projects to feature films — we love our job and we love supporting you in yours!

We’ll be back on Wednesday, January 2nd. Happy New Year and cheers to 2019!

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POSITION FILLED – Seeking Dynamic, Production-Savvy Rental Agent

This position has been filled. Thanks to all who applied!

Rule Boston Camera is looking for a dynamic, production-savvy person to join our rental team — perfect candidates should be comfortable talking with our clients about the latest cutting-edge cinematography equipment.

Our rental agents form long-term relationships with our clients who are actively producing some of the best content here in New England and around the world.

If production and camera technology are your passions, please send a resume and letter of interest to General Manager, Brian Malcolm – malcolm@rule.com.

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Fully-Equipped Services: Monitor Calibrations, Custom Training, Shared Storage and More

You may only know us as a production equipment rental house. What you may not know is that we are a fully-equipped and knowledgable service house, too. Whether you are looking for monitor calibrations, custom training sessions, consultation, equipment maintenance, or shared storage check-ups and improvements, we’ve got your back! All services are available on an a la carte basis, however, we also offer one of the best-valued service programs in the industry today. Rule+ enables you to access all of our services whenever you need them.

What is Rule+ and What are the Benefits?

 

Rule+, our customized pre-paid service spending program, is built to provide the highest level of assurance to agencies, in-house and external production companies, owner-operators, and post-production houses. Available in four service levels — Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum — Ruleensures that you are able to extract the maximum value from your gear with minimum hassle.  Not only does each service level enable you to use any of your pre-paid credit against any of our services at a generous discount, we also throw-in many value-added incentives such as periodic check-ups, priority tech support, FREE monitor calibrations, rental credits, and FREE local delivery for our Platinum clients.

“EXPERT HELP FOR CONSISTENT OUTPUT!”

Who uses Rule+? 

Every organization, large or small, can take advantage of Rule+ benefits as any of our plans can be customized to suit any company size. Our current clients include leading advertising agencies, leading local and ivy league academic institutions, and in-house agencies with global brand organizations, as well as Boston’s premiere sports teams.

Justin Peterson, Director, Digital Content Production at the Boston Celtics explains:

“Expert help for consistent output! As we grew and began mixing and matching cameras and monitors, we noticed inconsistencies. Some monitors ran red, while others ran blue. Our Sony ENG and Canon C-line cameras didn’t mesh well. Rule+ allowed us to get expert help in painting our cameras, and properly calibrating our monitors for consistency. We no longer question who’s monitor is the right color. Rule+ was an easy way for us to ensure we had the necessary resources included in our budget so we could focus on our job; producing high quality content”. 

 

Contact us today to see which Rule+ plan best suits your needs!

Dan Gruenpeter, Business Development Manager
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Quasar LED Lighting Tools to Rent or Buy

Quasar: one of over a thousand known extragalactic objects, starlike in appearance and having spectra with characteristically large redshifts, that are thought to be the most distant and most luminous objects in the universe.

Unfortunately, we don’t have “the most luminous objects in the universe” in our inventory but we do have a fleet of Quasar Science products available to rent and buy. Quasar offers a wide variety of LED lighting tools and many of them can be found right here at Rule Boston Camera.

Low profile, self ballasted, dimmer compatible, energy efficient, 95+ CRI, flicker free, 25,000 hour lifetime, and much more are just a few of the many features in the Quasar line-up of products.

We encourage you to stop by the shop, and check out these lights for yourself. We’ve got a bunch of new fixtures on the horizon for both rentals and sales in addition to what’s already in our rental inventory (Crossfade LED Kit, Kino Quasar 4ft/4 Bank Fixture) and in our Production Outfitters Expendables Store.

Another resource is our IN THE SHOWROOM video on the A-LED and Q-LED Crossfade lighting tools. Click here to watch, and reach out with questions.

Dylan Law, QC/Logistics & MoVI Tech

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First-time clients get 30% off your first rental during the month of September!

CONTENT CREATORS! Going back to work just got more exciting during the month of September. We are offering all first-time clients a 30% rental discount on your first rental during the month of September.

Whatever your project, we’re here to help. Our Rental Agents are here to gear you up with just the right audio, video, lighting and editing equipment for your most critical projects.

If you’re one of our regular customers, we’ve got something special for you, too.

Reach out to Rule Rentals by email or phone at 800-rule-com.

BtWHomePage

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Mixing Paint: The Phantom Flex4K

As with all of their products, Vision Research has created yet another high frame rate monster. Shooting RAW or ProRes, the Flex4K can crank all the way up to 938fps at true 4K — and almost 2,000fps in HD. With all that power under the hood, the question now becomes: What are we going to shoot?! It took us a while to come up with a subject that would do the camera justice. Eventually, we had it all planned out – we were going to see if mixing some paint with a huge speaker would produce some cool results. (It did.) First, we knew we needed light. Lots of light. The mid-day sun was our best bet, so we set up outside. To hold our subject, we set up a basic wooden platform, making sure to keep a wide enough base to catch any paint shrapnel. We hooked our speaker up to a receiver, and fed it various tones from an iPhone — apparently, yes, there is an app for this. With our stage set, we then turned to camera settings. We decided that shooting the true 4K image would be best – 4096 x 2304 at 938fps. If we had chosen a standard UHD 4K recording, we could have shot even faster. For paint, we went with a water based children’s finger paint – in hopes that maybe we could salvage the speaker, and our clothing. The water based paint would also mix better – a latex paint would mix slower, but may have looked cool as colors intertwined more. We’ll give that one a shot next time. We decided to shoot to the ProRes codec, rather than RAW, once we saw the image the camera gave in the standard rec709 color space. The final video color has not been graded in any way, all the footage is straight off the camera. While the RAW files are wonderful, and fantastic for grading – it can become somewhat burdensome with ever shrinking hard drive space. We found the colors to be awesome in the 709 gamma, and very reminiscent of ARRI. There is also the option for LOG. For glass, we chose the Angenieux 25-250, partly to keep our gear out of paint’s way – but also to take advantage of the beautiful lens compression you get on the long end. The focal plane wasn’t too shallow at T4, but the added compression at 100mm and above really brought the image alive. After the shoot, I loaded the ProRes files into Premiere, and we were exporting soon thereafter. For such a high data rate, specialized camera, the workflow all around was relatively simple. Watch the final results: https://vimeo.com/158513325   The Phantom Flex4K is available to rent here at Rule – come check it out! -Alex Enman, Engineer, enman@rule.com

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The Sony a7s: Full Frame, Low Light Monster

Once again, here we are with me talking about a new small camera that everyone in the indie shooting world seems to be going bananas over! Similarly to when the GH4 launched (of which you can read my latest blog post by clicking here) — there has been an extreme amount of chatter about this new Sony camera. Is it worth the hype? Upon launch, it was touted as the end-all-be-all of DSLR cameras (yes, I know it’s not technically a DSLR!), and a direct competitor to Panasonic’s GH4. Both cameras are mirrorless, seem to have more than a few nods to video users, and come in at a fairly affordable price point. After those features, however, the similarities stop. The two cameras are very different animals — both with their own strange strengths and weaknesses. Family Tree The a7s succeeds two other cameras in the Sony lineup that, at a glance, seem the same. The a7, and a7r. The design of these cameras comes from almost a rangefinder idea — a small, street photographers secret weapon. And for stills, no one was going to argue the quality. I’m sure even Fuji was taking notice. When it came to video, however, the quality and feature set wasn’t anything to write home about. While the a7r matched that of the 5dIII in most instances, Canon had already bundled up the market years ago. The a7s, though, has built upon this small form factor and has pushed the video feature set to its ends. It continues with the full-frame-sized sensor, but in this case it seems to be an entirely new chip. Low Light While I’m not in love with the form factor of this tiny camera (I’ve got big, dumb hands), the image quality is staggering. Particularly, with its low-light capabilities. The color and detail data it is able to pull from near total darkness at ISO’s of 20,000 and even 50,000 is unlike any camera I’ve ever seen, in any market or price range. This isn’t just a low-light camera, it’s a night-vision camera. Take a look at this great test from James Miller — that blue sky you see is actually a night sky. Those green bushes? Dark splotches to the human eye. SLOG 2 & Grading Now, we aren’t all nature photographers who need to see into the dead of night all the time — so upon getting the camera in my hands, my first tests were tried and true charts. I was overjoyed to see SLOG 2 and S-Gammut profiles included in the kit. This camera is cheaper than a 5dIII, but it’s now including a log profile that was at one time a paid upgrade to the F3 camera?! Count me in! I set up my chart, brought my middle grey down to 35%, and threw on my SLOG2 luts. You know, the ones I’ve been using for the past 4 years! And wouldn’t you know, it looked… terrible. What?! What happened? Why were my shadows so grainy and noisy? I thought this was a low-light monster! I couldn’t understand it. After some more research and testing, I figured it out. SLOG 2 on the a7s rates the native ISO of the sensor at 3200 ISO – as opposed to say 2000 on the fs700 and f5, or 1250 on the f55. As this is a different sensor, it is handling its color science differently. I found that it is so light sensitive, the sensor prefers to be fed LOTS of light – to the point of seemingly over-exposing the image. I found that middle grey likes to live around 75%, rather than 35%. As the camera only provides zebras and a meter internally for exposure help, it’s perhaps easiest to set your zebra level to 95% or 100%, and ride the high end until right before clipping. Bringing the color and gamma down works like a charm, and in no time I had the chart performance I had expected: So perhaps this isn’t the same old same old SLOG 2 I had assumed – but once I figured out the optimal settings, I was very impressed. The dynamic range on this camera is very high, around 14 actual usable stops. That gets into high-end cinema camera territory. 4K Recording & XAVC-S The last major feature of the a7s is the 4K external recording option. Now, first off, the a7s is using a brand new “consumer” version of the very popular XAVC codec. Internally, this high bitrate and smart compression is very malleable, especially for being at its base an h.264 MP4 file. It sports a very fiddly micro-HDMI port through which it will send 4K, 4:2:2 uncompressed video. The only thing headed to market soon that will handle this in a portable way will be the new Atomos Shogun – delivery date is still TBA. I find time and time again that users can get hung up on external recording solutions. One should always push their internal codecs as far as they can to see where the line in the sand is going to be drawn, and I find XAVC-S and SLOG 2 to be a 1-2 punch when it comes to color grading. Here is a very pretty video from vimeo user Florian Knab — check out how even the 120fps 720p looks great in a web delivery situation. Final Thoughts With SLOG 2, XAVC-S, a full-frame sensor, frightening low-light sensitivity, and an easily adaptable E-Mount – I think the a7s is a great addition to the indie market. I wish it were able to record 4K internally and high-speed above 60fps at 1080 like its mirrorless GH4 counterpart – but even without these features, it’s a pretty fantastic little camera. If you’d like to learn a bit more about the a7s, my post workflow, and other ways to get the most out of it, be sure to check out my Learning Lab here at Rule Boston Camera on 9/24 at 10am.  If you can’t make it in person, you’ll find it on our Learning Lab Vimeo Channel afterwards. -Alex Enman, Engineer, enman@rule.com

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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 Quest for Knowledge (aka Summer Intern Highlights so far)

It’s hard to think of something specific I’d like to say about the intern program at Rule. This is because I’ve gotten to do, see, and learn about tons of stuff in the really short time I’ve been here. I’m getting my hands on equipment I would, otherwise, have had to wait ages just to lay a finger on. I’m learning from some really promising and accomplished individuals about the scenes in Boston and New England, and getting to know names and faces. I’m navigating the streets of downtown with kits and cams in the back of the van, on our way to Boston film and videomaking offices I never even knew existed; and when we get there, people are really excited to see us. While it’s difficult to abstain from geeking out over being in the same vicinity as ARRI Alexa’s, Cooke lenses and all the amazing stuff that goes with them, I think I’ll say one of my favorite things about the internship so far is interacting with the folks who use this stuff, and seeing what everyone’s renting. One guy rented a bunch of lights and when I asked him how everything worked out, he gave me details about his set and his weekend shoot. It made my day! As an intern, I’m a little sponge – offer even the smallest amount of info or knowledge, and it’ll be well absorbed for future use. It’s one thing to soak in all the theories and reviews and instructional videos, but as a growing gear nerd, it makes all the difference to hold the stuff, figure it out and see how it works.  And as someone anxious to absorb, it’s really cool to invite all the rental drop-offers to tell me how their shoots went. I want to know what they’re doing and how they’re doing it, and I feel really encouraged as an intern to get them to tell me just a little bit about it. In the shop the other day, I got to learn about a Steadicam Zephyr which was gear-nerd-monumental because it’s a vital piece of equipment to filmmaking (especially now that I’m much more ready to operate my own one day).  And of course it’s just plain cool.

Interns Mike and Cat with QC's Kevin Bueschen
I’m really looking forward to continuing the quest for knowledge, and to sharing more and more stuff that I learn about – the Panasonics, the REDs, the MoVI– you name it. To me, though, every piece of equipment I touch at Rule is awesome and important, from the Sachtler to the Kino to the Steadicam, because eventually it’ll all come together to make something really inspiring for the sponges like me! Cat Haag, Summer 2014 Intern, intern@rule.com

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Get Your MoVI Moving: Part 2

That moment when the olive green Cinema Oxide case was placed by my desk will never be forgotten. What could be in there? Will this be life changing? What does all this mean? Long story short, by opening that case my life has changed drastically. I find myself thinking as a parent does for their child. However, my child’s name is a bit out of the norm. MoVI M10 has a nice ring, don’t you think? Like any relationship, there are highs and lows. The M10 and I have shared all of these moments from the early headaches at the shop to the winter sunset walks along the Charles River. As our relationship has grown over the past few months, I have learned to appreciate MoVI for what it can do for the entire production community. It is a true game-changer that provides new opportunities and ease. I have mentioned how easy the unit is to use, but I want you to take that with a grain of salt. There is a lot of time and effort that one needs to invest in order to initially understand how the M10 works and functions. It’s not as simple as taking it out of the box and starting to shoot right away. There are a few steps to remember in order to get optimal operation from the M10. Before any balancing starts to happen, you always want to make sure that your camera is completely built up. Have your lens, follow focus, transmitter, cables, etc., all squared away. Even the weight of the lens cap will make a difference. Once the M10 is powered on, you want to refrain from adding or subtracting any weight. Adding and subtracting weight will throw the balance off, thus resulting in the motors working harder than necessary. Once the camera is set, it’s time to start the balancing procedures. Pan, Tilt, and Roll will be your favorite three words after spending some time with the M10. These are the three axes that the M10 works upon. Your balancing will be done in conjunction with these motors and functions. At this point your camera is attached to the sled, and you are making fine adjustments to get your perfect balance. When you first start balancing the M10, you’ll want to channel all of your patience and take deep breaths. Sometimes the littlest adjustments will make all of the difference in a negative or positive way. Once you have spent enough time with the balancing process, it will start to become natural. Soon enough, you will have no problem swapping from a built-up Epic to a Blackmagic Pocket Camera. Well, what are you waiting for? Now is the time to experience the M10 and introduce it as part of your next production. Just remember to take the time and learn the ways of the MoVI before you get on set. This extra prep time will save you from a headache and a frustrated Director. Now Is The Time for The MoVI M10! -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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Production Outfitters: Community Resource

Boston’s film community is a growing community, and there is no greater partner to that growth than Rule Boston Camera.  Inherent in the company is a drive and motivation to supply the film and video community with the latest and greatest — not only in cameras and support but with an eye on covering all of the bases of production equipment needs. Enter Production Outfitters, Rule Boston Camera’s resource for production and expendable needs.  At Production Outfitters–as a convenience to our customers–we strive to provide all of the little tools and supplies that might otherwise be overlooked. Ranging from gaff and camera tape to gels, Assistant Camera equipment, Hard Drives and memory cards for the latest digital cameras, Production Outfitters aims to be an expanding resource to our customers and to the ever-growing local industry. If you have any suggestions on what’s hot or new in the industry, call or email me and I’ll work to make these options available to you. Help us to help the Boston film community keep growing and shooting! Nick Giannino, Production Outfitters Store and Rental Agent giannino@rule.com.