Author Archive for Pixipixel

01
Apr
18

Arri Skypanel Dance Floor

OK so Arri have outdone themselves this time and we are definitely the first company to ever have these in the world!

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Based around the latest Arri Skypanel S360 (blogpost to follow as ours have just arrived) Arri have released the Arri Friction Active Kinetic Encoder, (to give it its full name, I think we can just use the initials eh) This looks like a lot of fun.

Consisting of a series of 2 ft square connectable touch sensitive panels that can be linked together to form a mosaic panel of pretty much whatever size you like (maximum of 10 by 10 panels 20 ft square) these are then linked to the encoder and can then be linked by either wired or wireless DMX to a lighting control desk and in turn to any amount of Arri’s Skypanel 360’s to create an “interactive light / floor experience”

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We have not fully set this up as our 360’s only arrived this week and we don’t really have enough of them yet to do it justice, but preliminary tests show this to be one very clever bit of kit!

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Each of the individual panels is 2 foot square by about 2 inches deep and has a tough transparent cover that is strong enough to stand up to people walking (or even dancing) on, they connect in a “daisy chain” to create one overall panel.

16 pressure and heat sensitive receptors in each of the squares allows for the panels to “sense” pressure and send this information to the encoder and this is where the really clever bit comes in.  The encoder will then (depending on the settings) allow the Skypanels attached to “react” so the Michael Jackson Billie Jean video pavement scene is now easily recreated in a studio near you!

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Designed to sit in front of the Sky panel for vertical effects or even on top of them for horizontal use the panels are truly an outstanding piece of kit, coupling them with the sexy new Skypanel 360 allows for a almost infinite range of lighting possibilities from disco dance floors to interactive ”video” walls and so on.

If touch sensitivity is not enough for you they can be set to an audio response function so they can keep time with all your favorite 80’s dance classics and banging beats.

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I don’t know if this will prove more popular for wedding receptions or photo / video shoots but either way its totally fun and a completely off the wall surprise from the fine folks at Arri so well done to them.

As for a BCR rating, well it’s so cool it hurts polar bears so I’m giving it an unprecedented 15 out of 10 just don’t expect me to dance on it as I can’t even head bang in time and have two left feet anyway.

Enjoy the Easter weekend folks

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15
Feb
18

Hudson Redback Spider

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Being based in a series of railway arches in Hoxton I guess we should expect the odd creepy crawly to pay us a visit, but today I found the biggest spider I’ve seen since leaving Australia in our operations department.

Before I go on I should point out that arachnophobia sufferers should probably not read much more of this particular blog as I fully intend to fill it with un-necessary images and references to spiders of all shapes and sizes. To be fair Hudson started this and I’m only joining in.

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To start the ball rolling here is an image I took of  “Harry” a huntsman spider that I shared my shed with for a few years in Melbourne, we had an understanding and he ruled the shed until I came in then would retire from my workbench to the celling where he would watch me with all eight eyes and pass me the occasional tool as required. Ok so he didn’t really pass me the tools but he did do a great job of keeping the other Australian bugs out of the shed. For this I tolerated him and even had some fun taking his portrait, as far as I know he is probably still there.

Now by Australian standards Harry the huntsman was quite a small specimen, only about the size of my hand, he had a bigger sibling living in the letterbox out the front who I really didn’t like but he did keep the junk mail from building up however even this one would be dwarfed by the Hudson Redback we now have living under the tracks with us here.

Like its namesake the Redback is small but packs a powerful punch weighing in at just 8 pounds (3.6 Kg) with a diameter of 3 ft (91cm) that’s when open, it can produce 400 watts of light.

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The Redback is a led fixture adorned with no less than 3456 LEDs distributed across its 8 hairy legs (sorry back to arachnids, the Hudson guys didn’t give it hairy legs really, and that’s a bit of a shame) As we would expect it has a colour temperature range from 2900 – 6300K with a CRI of 95 and is fully dimmable but at present only mains powered and not battery, yet.

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The whole unit can be used “naked” (that’s the light not you, but I didn’t say you couldn’t be) or can be fitted with a fabric reflector to make this the first parabolic led fixture that I am aware of. A snap grid is also provided before you ask.

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Now Redback spiders have a nasty habit of squeezing themselves into tiny cracks and holes round the house and waiting for something to happen by that they can bite, they are able to fold themselves into a tiny ball of legs and fangs that belays their true size until its dinner time, the Hudson mimics this for travel with double jointed legs that allow it to be packed down to a diminutive 1 foot by 9 inch package. Thankfully the Redback spider’s habit of hanging round the Australian dunny seat is unlikely to be something the Hudson version becomes renowned for (well I hope so anyway)

So to sum up this is a new take on the LED lighting revolution we are experiencing taking the best of this brave new world of LED lights and mixing it with the good old parabolic reflector, I’m tipping its going to be much more popular than its venomous little namesake from down under and I give it a 10 out of 10 for my Brucie coolness rating. I presume if this one is the Redback then when Hudson make the next size up it may be called the Huntsman. The Hudson Huntsman has a nice ring to it I think, plus you heard it here first.

Just for the record the Huntsman is one of the largest species of spider in the world and as its name suggests actively hunts its prey, its mostly harmless to humans but is partial to the odd Redback spider hence my acceptance of Harry.

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here is a huntsman spider trying to eat a broom

Now if I haven’t put you off yet please pop in for a demo or hire it for your next shoot, we are the first in London to have one as far as I know and it’s already making a hit with our less arachnophobic customers. So come and give it a go

Oh and if you happen to see a real Redback my suggestion is to STAMP on it, HARD!

15
Feb
18

Profoto D2 1000 Monoblock

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Profoto are at it again, they constantly seem to be improving their kit and so we seem to be constantly having to buy it, I think they must have a marketing guy  in an office somewhere with our photo on the wall knowing that whatever new toy he comes up with we will be top of the list for ordering it! Still we don’t mind as it’s always excellent stuff and worth the investment but more importantly we hope you lot love it!

So what have they tempted us with this time? It’s an upgrade to the ever-popular D1 1000 mono blocks, the new D2 1000. Despite looking much the same as the D1 system its obviously better, 1 better at first glance hence the D2 name but what improvements have they made? What new tricks does the D2 do?

Well how about TTS (through the lens) this refers to the metering that the mono block employs and allows for the light to pretty much set itself as far as power / exposure is concerned, so that’s one less thing you need to think about. Does that mean anyone can use this light even if they are not a proper photographer, well um yes, basically, sorry about that. Don’t fret though you can use all your hard earned experience to point the thing in the right direction and perhaps add a shaper or two (Profoto make over 120 different light shaping attachments and I think we have at least 119 of them).

Ok so it also has TTS (totally too simple) and that’s a boon for everyone as it just speeds things up as we are all in a rush nowadays,  but it does have a few more tricks inside. It’s also fully HSS (High Speed Sync) enabled and can deal with shutter speeds up to 1/8000 of a second (wow). Furthermore it will effortlessly freeze action at up to 1/63,000 of a second and give you a burst of 20 images per second, impressive eh?

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Apart from that the D2 has all the features you would expect in a top of the line monoblock, a full 10 stops of power range, a powerful 300w halogen modeling light plus a built in reflector. It has full compatibility with Profoto’s range of Air syncs that makes this a very useable light indeed and one that’s sure to become a standard in our industry.

We will continue to offer our D1 500 and D1 1000 kits for the moment but should you need that extra bit of speed or perhaps need the TTL metering to give your brain a day off then the D2 is the light for you.

I’m giving it another 10 / 10 for my BCR as the D1 system was absolutely excellent and as the name tells us the D2 is just that 1 better!

Now I just spotted a Profoto A1 Speedlight sat on a bench that I didn’t know we had (that marketing guy at Profoto has the world’s easiest job lol) but that will be up another day! can’t wait for another day.

Cheers folks

BB

15
Feb
18

Profoto A1

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Appearances can be deceptive. You would never guess that I was once a billboard model would you, but I was (fleetingly). Nor do I look like a racing car driver or a chainsaw musician but again I have been, ok so the racing car was a Redbull billy-cart and the music was somewhat less than melodic and more “heavy metal” than Anthrax doing a Metallica cover while dressed up as Sir Lancelot but my point is not to judge a book by its cover. The all-new Profoto A1 is a casing point.

First impressions scream Speedlight and why you may ask would Profoto make a speedlite when Canon and Nikon make some seriously good ones themselves, and you probably have one already if you’re a DSLR sort of person anyway.

Well that’s because it’s not a speedlight it’s the “world’s smallest studio light”. Now firstly I presume they are talking about the light being small and not the studio, in fact if you read the blurb Profoto claim that the A1 makes the entire world your studio and that’s pretty big in my book, but the light is about the size of an um,,,,,,,, Speedlight!, It’s also the same shape as a er,,,,,,,,, Speedlight!

Rather interestingly you can use it as a, wait for it,  Speedlight, amazing eh but don’t get confused because one thing it definitely isn’t is, a SPEEDLIGHT!

So now I have that cleared up let’s have a look at what this “definitely not a Speedlight” can do.

Well firstly you can clip it onto the hot shoe of your camera like you would your, (do I really need to tell you what) and use it in exactly the same way as you would use your (you know what). The A1 is equipped with TTL (we opted for the Canon version) so it will talk to your camera and meter through the lens to achieve the correct exposure just leaving you to tweak it up or down a bit as normal depending on what you are after. It’s stunningly fast recycle time of 1.2 s will keep even the most trigger happy amongst us happy and its interchangeable Li-ion battery packs that last up to 4 times longer that the good old AA’s which will save you money and time.

Also the A1 is equipped with HSS and can cope with shutter speeds up to 1/8000’s of a second and that’s great for freezing fast moving subjects in broad daylight or shallow depth of field portraits whilst outside. Profoto say that their HSS is the most powerful, fastest and most consistent HSS solution on the market and I have no reason to doubt this claim, the A1 is a very slick performer in this area.

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Also rather nicely the A1 comes with built in Profoto Air (the Profoto radio triggering system) and this enables easy communication between any Profoto Air equipped kit (other A1 units, Monoblocks, packs and heads etc.). This does give the A1 an advantage over other similar products and opens up a range of possibilities for combining multiple lights both in and out of the studio environment.

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Now a little like Frank Sidebottom the A1 sports a rather unusual round head, this makes more of a difference that just pure aesthetics, it matches in well with the majority of Profoto’s other flashes and gives a natural, beautiful light when compared to the normal oblong heads of most speedlights (oops sorry I forgot this is definitely not a Speedlight). A rather nice rotating zoom ring on the head allows for a quick change from a wide setting with gorgeous soft fall off to a more spot like focused narrow beam. (We like twists as photographers so I do like this manual system as its very intuitive). A built in motor zoom is also incorporated incase you have enough twists and turns in your life already.

Now one thing that I always hated about my Canon speedlight was that I had to stick Velcro all over it to hold on any aftermarket light shapers and although this gave it a bit of “street cred” it always seemed a shame to gum up a nice clean bit of kit. The A1 has used a revolutionary new technology called “magnets” to hold on a decent range of light modifiers and this allows for super quick attachment and removal whilst keeping it gum free. We have the full range of attachments here including a dome diffuser, bounce card and wide-angle lens.

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Now in my book one massive advantage of the A1 over a speedlight is it comes equipped with a built in LED modeling light, this allows for instant feedback on your lighting and also helps find your dropped car keys.

Lastly a simple user interface means you won’t get lost in endless menus and a massive HI res display on the back helps us poor sighted folks see what’s going on without having to put our specs back on.

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So in my opinion this is a Speedlight despite what they say, but it’s also a studio light, it gives the best of both worlds in one elegant compact unit. Profoto have really thought this one out well and I would imagine it is going to become a genuine alternative to speedlights from the main two camera system manufacturers so watch out Canon and Nikon.

I’m giving it an easy 10/10 for my BCR, it looks good and functions superbly, now if I owned any Profoto kit I would have to add one or perhaps even two to my set up.

So next time you need a speedlight why not give the Profoto A1 a go, it’s not a Speedlight, it’s much much MORE than a Speedlight!

Cheers

Brucie Blogger

26
Jan
18

ANGÉNIEUX 44-440 A2s PL Long Range Anamorphic Lens

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26
Jan
18

Rosco Silk 210 & 110 LED soft lights

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So what do you think of when you hear the name Rosco? I’m betting you think of gels or at a pinch the bumbling sheriff from the Dukes of Hazard (that reminds me of Daisy Duke and those shorts!) Well sorry to say I cannot  find any link between Rosco and Daisy Duke, that’s a shame as it may have improved this particular blog significantly, still I will keep going in the hope I’ve not lost you already.

Rosco are in fact much more than a posh cellophane or paint manufacturer, ok so they have won an academy award for their range of gels and another for fog fluid both of which are in use on film shoots all over the world every day. But I didn’t know that Rosco also make dance floor coverings, window polarising filters (what!) and lights. In this case I want to talk lights, some very nice LED panels to be precise, I’m talking about the Silk range that we have just added to our rental inventory.

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Now, we like LED panels here at Pixipixel, they represent a new wave of cinematographic lighting and have some great benefits over traditional lighting kit, running cool, quiet, less power, not blowing bubbles (bulbs) and (rather humorously) not needing correction gels. I have to say I think the LED light panel is a great innovation however I’m running out of ways to try and make them sound exciting, having reviewed numerous offerings from different suppliers but we like to offer our clients the latest tech from a range of reputable manufacturers. Still, as we have spent our hard earned cash on a number of  Rosco Silk 110 and 210 units I had better tell you a little about them.

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The Rosco Silk 110 is a 1ft by 1ft panel and the 210 is a 2ft by 1ft so firstly praise is due for giving them sensible names that make sense for us rental bookers of the world to understand! My first impressions are good, they seem to be very well made plus I really like the all black “stealth” atheistic. The blurb shows that they score very highly in all the various testing metrics (TLCI, CRI, R9 and so on) and require virtually no correction in post-production.

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The units produce a high volume, broad-spectrum white light at temperatures from 2800k to 6500k, they all feature intuitive on-board dimming and colour temperature controls. Two channel DMX is also a standard feature.

Various accessories such as egg crates, louvers and barn doors are available but the Silks produce a beautifully soft flattering light as they are, equipped with an anti glare frosted front panel that ensures a uniform, single source light. Rosco say the light “gently embraces it’s subject” (now I’m thinking of Daisy Duke again sorry) and this soft output and exceptional colour rendering makes the Silk desirable for illuminating talent on feature films, TV projects and stills shoots, that’s a bit of luck being the trade we are all in.

As you would expect the Silks are able to be powered by mains or battery and Rosco offer options for all the leading batteries,  we have opted for V-lock plates and supply the Silks with batteries to keep you shooting all night long.

So despite me being a little less than ecstatic about yet another LED panel blog I must give these panels a 9/10 for my BCR rating, they are a quality bit of kit in all areas, they look good and make your subject look even better and that’s what we all want. Coming from Rosco we know they do exactly what’s claimed in the blurb and coming from Pixipixel you know they will be on time, in great working order and ready to use when you need them.

 

Give us a bell and try them for yourself, if you would like a demo again just let us know.

 

Cheers Brucie Blogger

 

Now if you have actually read to the end of this blog I think you deserve a treat so her she is Daisy Duke xxx (I included both the old school and more recent versions, can I have one of each please)

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11
Jan
18

Super Baltar Cine Lenses by Bausch and Lomb

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So I have been doing a little research about these lenses and trying to understand why they are so highly regarded and I must admit to feeling a certain synergy between them and myself.

It would seem that it’s the flaws and imperfections present in the Super Baltars that make them so attractive, this is something I’ve been trying to convince women about me for years. Unlike me however it’s worked for the lenses and they are more popular than ever.

So to give a little background the Super Baltar lenses were originally made by Bausch and Lomb and were first released in 1966 (so only 2 years before I was first released myself.) They were a replacement to the original B and L Baltar lenses and were specifically optimised for colour cinematography. When first released they came purely as an optical unit with a diaphragm and had no lens mount or focus unit as these were considered to be separate items. I am pleased to say that they now come with a focus unit and a PL mount because they have been beautifully re housed by True Lens Services (I cant help wishing I could be re housed myself as I’ve nearly worn out my present housing)

As I said earlier the Super Baltar lenses are somewhat less than perfect, B&L stated (back in the 60’s) that “coma and spherical aberrations are negligible” however by today’s standards this could be considered a less than accurate statement. Modern testing reveals significant spherical aberration and this in turn can cause focus shift while stopping down, however this is now considered a strength rather than a flaw, let me try and explain why.

A modern digital camera has a protection glass, IR filter and a optical low pass filter between the lens and the sensor, this acts like an additional lens element and has a tendency to actually improve the correction of spherical aberrations, thus the same lens when used on a modern digital camera will actually give an optical performance better than if it was on a film camera.

But the main reason these lenses are so loved is the feel they give, they impart a warm image with high contrast, beautiful warm flesh tones and stunning green / blue flares, something you wont get with a modern lens. They add a touch of magic to the image that can’t be reproduced in post easily. Also the relationship between this “old glass” and the structured nature of a modern camera sensor produces a pleasing effect where modern lenses may produce an overly sharp end result. The Baltars tend to smooth this out somewhat with very nice ascetic results. This effect is known as the “analog-digital synergy” (feel free to drop that into a conversation next time you want to show off). It’s a similar effect to that which musicians encounter when using digital equipment put through old school vacuum tube amplifiers.

Many movies and cinematographers have used these lenses to great effect notably the following, Carrie, The Godfather 1 and 2 and Hitchcock’s, The Birds.

The Birds production actually pre dates the release of the Super Baltars so despite what I just said its probable it was shot with the original B&L Baltars but you get the idea.

So before I bore you with any more info (that you could look up yourself anyway) I should get to the point of this blog and that’s to let you know that we here at Pixipixel have a rather nice set of these wonderful lenses sat here waiting for you to use on your next masterpiece and if they were good enough for Hitchcock well need I say any more. We stock the 20, 25, 35, 50 and 75mm in a set and have them here ready for you. If you are a cinematographer that’s not given them a test yet then believe me you really should.

One small word of warning and that’s the fact that these lenses are ever so slightly radioactive! Yes honestly they are, the optics used in them contain thorium oxide, it was used to control the aberrations. Apparently its not worth worrying about as the level is so low but I would not keep them in a bum bag guys, unless you have enough children already that is. It could also explain why our camera arch is always slightly warmer than the bookers arch!

Like me the Baltars are about 50 years old, but they have improved with age like a fine wine, I however seem to have gone to seed unfortunately and I don’t think that’s fair but at least I’m not radioactive. Despite the warmth this radioactivity imparts I still rate these lenses as super cool and they get a 10/10 for my BCR, they are lovely and as scarce as hens teeth so come and give them a go!

Cheers

Brucie Blogger




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