Posts Tagged ‘#cinematography

16
Feb
17

Canon 1DX mark 2

canon-1dx-mkii_option-2_2

This is one blog that I’ve not been looking forward to writing. As a proud owner of a 1DX myself I am gutted that the Mk2 has even been produced to be honest. But as I can’t stop progress, I knew it would happen sooner or later. Inevitably, the Mk2 is better than the original as you would expect.

For those of you in the know, Canon name their cameras in the reverse order numerically so the lower the number the better the camera, hence the 1 series denotes this as Canons flagship model. If I am to be honest I believe the 1DX was a photojournalist’s camera, built to be used every day in whatever environment and whatever weather the operator found themselves in, from the touchline of a rugby match to the fence outside Buckingham Palace these cameras are built to work and to work hard.

We’ve received so many enquiries about the Mk2 that we couldn’t disappoint you any longer. I do love this about Pixipixel, we are a rapidly growing company but still listen to you folks, our customers, and respond to your requests, so keep on telling us what you want.

Anyway on with the blog (and remember this is hurting me more to write than it is for you to read). As I said above the 1DX mk 2 is the new Canon DSLR flagship, it may not have the resolution of some of its “lesser” siblings like the 5DS or 5DR but it has (almost) the ability to shoot in the dark and for me that’s more useful than massive files. I’m pleased to say, that although the pixel count has increased significantly (now 20.2mp) this miraculous ability to shoot using higher ISO’s in gloomy, dull or dark situations is as good as ever, in fact its better.

The Mk2 has improved video capabilities too now allowing for 4k 60p capture, making it a genuine option for you moving image folks. 120p can be achieved in full HD for your slow motion creativity and truly amazing AF tracking keeps the subject pin sharp. A new touch screen allows for easy accurate focus and this works seamlessly with all Canon EF lenses.

1dx-mkii_option1

If shooting faster than a Gatling gun is your bag then look no further, the Mk2 can shoot at 14 fps with full AF / AE tracking or up to 16 fps in live view. This is thanks to the new DIGIC 6+ processors and a new mirror drive system. If you use the latest Cfast 2.0 media then a burst of 170 uncompressed 14-bit RAW images can be captured almost before you knew you were trying.

I find it hard to believe that Canon could have improved the auto focus over the Mk1 but they have. Now with 61 selectable AF points (including 41 cross type and 5 dual cross type) and advanced A1 Servo AF III + and improved EOS intelligent tracking you really don’t have much of an excuse to miss that vital sharpness. Even when you choose to shoot at f8 all 61 points are at your disposal including 21 cross type sensors. She really is an impressive focusing beast. I could take my glasses off and still get everything sharp I reckon.

A built in GPS system with automatic time-zone updates is a neat inclusion (should you ever get lost or lose your watch) and lightning fast Superspeed USB 3.0 and Gigabit connectivity via Ethernet or the optional WFT-E8 WiFi adaptor caters to numerous workflow styles.

Brucie coolness rating has to be a well-deserved 10 out of 10 as you would expect from a Canon top of the line body, as much as the little green monster inside me wants to mark it down I really cant. Ok so I’m jealous because its better than my camera but you needn’t be because we got it in for you, yes YOU so pop in and let your inner paparazzi have some fun.

 

Many thanks BB

06
Feb
17

Arri Master Grips

“It’s all in the wrist,” well that’s what I’ve been told anyway.

Many years ago when I decided to learn to play the drums at school I was told it was all in the wrist, I never could get the hang of it but think that was more to do with having no rhythm so I gave up, then my mum told me it was all in the wrist when it comes to whisking so I brought myself a KitchenAid, in fact I’ve only found one pastime that my wrists seem to help with but we won’t go there in this blog.

Still, moving swiftly on from that I would like to tell you all about one new and exciting use for those wrists of yours, the all new Arri Master Grips.

For years the traditional style cine handgrips have helped firmly support and stabilise a camera on the operator’s shoulder and that’s about it. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has wished that I could turn the wheel on the grip to alter focus rather than having to let go with one hand to do so. Well it would seem the good folks at Arri have been thinking the same thing.

The latest addition to Arri’s ECS (Electronic Control System) are the rather trick Master Grips. They are available in four versions: Right side or Left side and with either a Thumb rocker for super smooth zooming or control wheel for iris and focus adjustment. Our setup allows for the left hand to switch between focus and iris control leaving the right hand to take care of zoom.

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We can see this simply as a merging of documentary and cine style equipment allowing for a best of both worlds setup. Particularly when using small cameras like the Alexa mini with its reduced level of user interface, solid cine style grips with documentary style controls are going to be a great improvement in ergonomics.

arri-master-grips-4

When I first looked at these grips it occurred to me that the camera operator would have to become a multi-tasking genius. Not only holding and aiming the camera but zooming, focusing, and adjusting the iris all by themselves, that although possible would be challenging I imagine. I’m happy to say that Arri are one step ahead of me with this. By using the Arri WCU4 controller any or all of the functions can be taken over by the 1st AC so nobody is out of a job just yet.

Built to Arri’s super high standards and based around the proven ergonomics of the much loved Arriflex handgrips the master grips are solid, rugged, and reliable even in harsh shooting environments. Controls are easy to reach yet protected from accidental triggering.

At the moment the Master Grips allow for full control of cine lenses including adjustable motor speed, zoom response and motor limits, they also allow for control of integrated servomotors on ENG and EF lenses.

Featuring easy set up using the integrated touch screens or physical buttons all controls are fully configurable with reassuring status readout on the controls themselves.

arri-master-grips-zoom

I must say the Master Grips are rather impressive.  Arri have done their homework well on these, incorporating everything you would expect and more into a great package, putting you firmly in control whether you are shooting as a single operator or part of a crew. The Master Grips are sure to become a must have addition to your kit list. I’m giving them a full 10 out of 10 for my Brucie Coolness Rating.

So if you want to get you hands on some give us a call at Pixipixel Hoxton and we can arrange for them to be on your next shoot.

Oh and just in case you are wondering what that other use for my wrists is, well fishing, obviously!

Many thanks

BB

arri-master-grips-iris

25
Jan
17

Wind Machines

Well I never for a moment realised how much was involved in a wind machine, or how hard it is to find any information regarding them and their use.

I will provide you all with a simple comparison between a range of the units that we hire. Anyway below is my take on the subject and the technical details.

I guess the most important thing that I have learned regarding wind machines is that it’s not all about power and the amount of air moved.

We need to think about wind machines in terms of spread and power, much like a light.

For example do you want your wind machine to blow the hair of just one model or are you trying to flutter a group? Obviously if you are just aiming at one model then a narrow channel of wind is great but if you are going for a group “blow” then a wider spread would be better.

Power is obvious, the harder it blows the more movement you will get in the subject but control is the key here, what you are looking for is the ability to vary the intensity of the wind from a gentle breeze to a full on hurricane and varying levels in between.

There are other factors to consider such as the method of control; use a DMX or a remote? The size, weight, and the amount of noise it makes during operation need to be thought about in relation to your project.

Also a rapid on or off “bump/gust” feature is useful. For example, in a film scene when a door is opened or closed, a rapid on/off feature would be useful.

And finally, the ability to disperse smoke, fog, fake snow, or dust (normally fullers earth) without destroying the machine is a bonus.

Personally I am a great enthusiast for waving a ½ poly board up and down for most “normal” looking movements in a models hair, its very basic but also very cheap and very effective for a one-off breeze of air. Having said that we are in the business of getting equipment out on hire so lets not recommend that too often and needless to say wind machines are far more consistent and precise and also don’t complain about having aching arms by lunchtime.

Detailed tech specs for our stocked units can be found at the end of this article.

The Bowens units are a “point and shoot”; they are neat and compact and have variable speed but do not allow for adjusting the spread of wind. The basic unit (now discontinued) has a corded remote and its two bigger brothers have wireless remotes.

The Reel EFX Turbo units both have an adjustable spread facility and a burst function, but no remote control.

The Mole Richardson is the big daddy of our range and has a bump function to rapidly increase the power and produce a blast above the set output. A DMX control and an “almost instant-off function” are standard features. It also has an integrated radial-vein collimator that narrows the spread of the wind but can be removed for a wider dispersal. This is the only unit we have that is actually recommended for the dispersal of dust. Exhaust fans from a plant hire store are great for this but are far less controllable.

1. Bowens Jet stream

Power Requirements 120V, 50/60 Hz, 2.5 Amps
Maximum Power 2,500 RPM, 940 CFM

 

1

2. Bowens Jetstream 250

Output at 1 m 8MPS
Max Power 240V
Control Cable Length Wireless Remote
Length 315mm
Width 260mm
Height 260mm
Weight 9.6kg

2

3. Bowens Jetstream 350

Output at 1 m 7MPS
Max Power 240V
Control Cable Length Wireless Remote
Length 390mm
Width 365mm
Height 365mm
Weight 13.3kg

3

4. Reel EFX Turbo 2

Motor: Brushless, AC, Ball bearing

Power: 110 – 125v/4 amp or 220v/2 amp (50 – 60) cycle.  RPM 3450  CFM 2000

Controls: Solid state speed control, one touch blast

Weight: 20lbs

Mounting: Floor stand with adjustable tilt and universal mount, C stand, Junior stand

Dimensions: 14″L x 19″W x 22″H

Peak Velocity: (Focused Beam): 20mph at 10ft

Focused Beam: 10 degrees (3.5foot diameter beam at 10ft)

Flood: 45 degrees (8ft beam at 10ft)

 

5

5. Reel EFX Turbo 4

 

Motor: 2 HP Baldor® Premium Efficient 3-Phase

Power: 110 – 125v/4 amp or 220v/2 amp (50 – 60) cycle.  RPM 3450  CFM 2000

Speed Control: Solid-state variable-frequency drive with active silent smart-switching & active power-factor correction

DMX Control: USITT-compliant DMX 512 w/5-pin XLR

Weight: 54 lbs

Mounting: steel floor stand with spud mount

Dimensions: 22″ x 24″

 

7

 

6. Mole Richardson

Construction Sheet, Tubular Steel, 3 Blade Fan, 15′ power cable

Removable 1-1/8″ yoke pin

Rating 110-240VAC or DC, 3.25 Amps, on-off toggle switch on housing side

6″ Rheostat fan speed control switch

Rectifier with capacitor for AC or DC operation

Dimensions Housing: 26.25″ Diameter x 20″ Long (66.6 x 50.8 cm)
  Weight 88 lbs (40 kg)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

04
Jul
16

Introducing Genevieve

Now it’s quite an unusual name Genevieve especially in the present day, I don’t think I have ever met one to be honest. I recall an old film about a car race back from Brighton and I happen to know Sainte Genevieve (Saint Geneviève de Loqueffret )is the patron saint of Paris. I didn’t know that she is said to have saved the city from Attila the Hun and an outbreak of ergot poisoning (very nasty) not to mention being appointed as the guardian of the “consecrated virgins of Paris” so the name has some interesting and amusing history but it is still very unusual.

So having said that, I would like to introduce you to the newest Genevieve in London, She hails from Belgium which is very nearly Paris in my book, so it will suffice as a introduction and she is most definitely without any doubt whatsoever UNUSUAL.

 

Now Genevieve is a big girl she is quite heavy, but tall with it and she is delightfully quiet so you can take her home to meet the folks and she won’t embarrass you, but none of that is what makes her unusual. She is unusual, because of her power and she has heaps of it, she puts a 1970’s female Soviet Block weightlifter to shame and without the steroids!

 

Ok, I’ve had my fun and before I put you off Genevive all together, I should point out that she is a truck, a 4 x 4 wheel drive truck and she carries with her a 100kva generator!

 

Yes, Genevieve is our shiny new Mitsubishi Canter generator truck and you won’t find another lady like her in London.

genevieve 1

So lets start with Geneviève’s body, as I said she is a Mitsubishi Canter truck so has constant four wheel drive, high ground clearance, locking hubs, heavy duty axles and off road tires in fact many councils use the Canter as a base for their snow ploughs so she is a tough go anywhere kind of girl. She weighs in at about 6.5 tones so she’s not exactly anorexic and requires a taco (no not as in like a burrito) as in a tachograph! But don’t let that put you off, we can always find a driver if required and a spark (electrician) for that matter.

 

One quick glance inside her shapely rear end reveals the mother of all generators producing 100 Kva at your demand for anything from charging your IPhone to bringing Frankenstein’s monster back to life. With more outlets than Costa Coffee you won’t be short of places to plug into whatever you are using in fact she has:

One each of 125 and 63 amp single phase outlets and a brace of 32 and 16 Amp ones too. If you are after 3 Phase then she is equipped with a power lock and a 125 amp socket. Ok so no USB port but you can plug your phone into the cigarette lighter like everyone else.

genevivepower.jpg

 

A modest amount of storage is available for kit at the very back but if you need 100Kva then I don’t think this will be enough room for everything you are running still it’s better than a poke in the eye!

genevieve load.jpg

But by far the most impressive thing about this lady is how quiet she is, I had Toby start her up for me yesterday and even with the rear service hatch wide open I swear she made less noise than a little Honda 2Kva generator and they are renowned for being quiet.

 

So if you like your women tall well built, adventurous, powerful and silent then Genevieve is the girl for you. Why not give us a call and arrange a date?

genevieve2

The only improvement I would make is a huge set of bull bars and a winch but I’ve spent too long down under so ignore me, she is a perfect 10 as Kevin Bloody Wilson would say (those easily offended should not look up Kevin or his music)

26
Apr
16

Something a little different again -Chroma-keying

Chroma-keying

chroma1.jpg

Chroma-Keying is the technical term for what most of us refer to as Green Screen shooting and for some of you that is probably the only thing I can teach you on the subject, however for the rest of the world here is my take on this popular and great fun technique.

Firstly the term “green screen” is confusing as the process of Chroma-keying can be done with various colours other than green, but more on this later.

So before I get too into it, let’s just have a quick think about what the process of Chroma-keying actually is and why we use it so often. The Chroma-keying process basically allows you as an image or filmmaker to remove a specific chosen colour in the image and replace it with another colour or background. Probably the most often seen use of this is the weather person and his or her map at the end of the news. Chroma-keying has allowed the weather forecast to be a far more immersive and polished presentation but I must admit to missing the likes of Michael Fish struggling with magnetic cloud and rain icons, obviously this keying technique is not limited to the daily precipitation forecast and is in fact used far more often than you might expect.

 

fish1

       BBC prior to chroma keying, lots has changed except the weather it seems

 

It may be obvious when you see a flying superhero at the movies that some trickery has taken place and this would often be done using chroma-keying but how often do we see a car scene with dialogue in a TV show? Well take it from me a very high percentage of those car scenes will have been shot against a green screen. This is down to the sound created by a moving car, even one on a trailer, this sound can interfere or drown out the actors lines causing the need for separately recording the dialogue and syncing it back to the film later with all the expense incurred. By filming in a stationary car in a nice quiet film studio and then chroma-keying in the background a lot of time and expense can be saved.

 

Right, I think we all know what chroma-keying is now so how do we do it? Well firstly get yourself a good digital operator as I wont be going through the computer side of things on this occasion. I’m going to concentrate on backgrounds and lighting for chroma-keying as that’s what we hire out. Having said that you can get the digital operator from us along with all the computer hardware and software required oh and the camera too….. needless to say.

 

To set up a Chroma-keying shot you first need to set up a background in whatever colour you are choosing to use, be it chroma green, chroma blue or something else. This can be as simple as hanging the appropriate colour background paper roll up or slopping some paint onto a cyc (someone else’s cyc preferably). But take care at this stage, ensure that the background has no nasty marks or scuffs, no wrinkles or creases and so on. Any imperfections in the background can have a negative effect on the keying process.

 

Background options are numerous ranging from that pot of paint to colorama paper rolls or fabrics, we carry various size fabrics from 6 x 6 ft up to 20 x 20 ft in chroma green and up to 12 x 12 ft in chroma blue. Appropriate goal post systems, frames and stands are here in abundance too so hanging the background is no problem at all.

 

One word of warning in regards to using a painted background and that is to be mindful of reflections, a painted surface is far more prone to this than a paper or fabric backdrop. In fact to make your life easier one of our fabric backdrops made from Rosco Digital Cloth is the ideal solution, it gives no bounce back and the perfect key when lit with green.

 

The next stage would be to light this background and the thing to look out for here is to light it evenly with no hot spots, shadows or fall off. You are looking to light the background about 1-2 stops less than your subject will be. Keep it soft and try not to blast the hell out of it as you may end up reflecting the background colour onto the rear of your subject causing fringing around the edges (not what you are after)

 

In practice the easiest way to get a consistent light across your green screen is to light it from both the left and right hand sides using matching lights, this way the lights will overlap each other creating a uniform brightness across the entire backdrop.

lightgreen

Again we have lots of options for lighting the background and many of you will have your own preferences but a couple of good options include Kino Flow lights with 2 x 4ft 4 bank units sufficient to light a 12 x 12 ft screen or for larger arrears our 8 x 4 light flo units are great. However if you want to really spoil yourself then try our very sexy new Cineo HS mk2 led panels (just back from some Wonder Woman chroma keying). All of these lights can all be provided in chroma green output specifically for green screens or in daylight or tungsten for lighting other colour backgrounds. If none of these tickle your fancy give us a call and we can work through your requirements with numerous other lighting options available.

 

kino

Kino 4ft 4 bank

kino2

Light flo 4 x 8

 

 

 

 

 

cineo hs2

Next light your subject, but just have a think at this point as you need to emulate the lighting required in the finished shot, so don’t do a 3 point daylight set up if the end result is someone driving a car at night and so on. Remember direction, quality, colour and power of light here and try to pre-visualize the finished shot.

 

Where possible and appropriate some kind of hair or rear light is great to separate your subject from the background. Positioning your subject at a distance to the background will help with this separation and also reduce the possibility of shadows on the background cast by the subject. If you have to have the subject close to the background you can try to light from a higher angle thus putting those shadows onto the floor and hopefully out of shot but this will only work if the end result calls for the light coming from that same high angle (getting the idea?)

 

As far as what lights to use for your subject its really down to the “look” you are after but whatever that is we have what you need to achieve it so just touch base and we can recommend some options.

 

This one may be obvious but I had better mention it, your subject needs to be a different colour to the background, so don’t shoot a Smurf against chroma blue or a bottle of Grolsch against chroma green ok.

 

smurf

Why not to shoot a Smurf against a Blue Screen?

Whilst shooting be mindful of reflections from the background in jewelry, watches and glasses etc these can spoil your day if you fail to notice them so take care.

Also consider shooting with a large aperture if possible as this will throw the background out of focus and that helps keep it a uniform colour and brightness whilst hiding any imperfections thus aiding with the keying process.

 

Now just before I go and let you all get on with some serious keying, I did mention using different colours to chroma green earlier and said I would expand on that. The go to colour for chroma keying is green but blue, yellow or red can be used instead, care must be taken with red and yellow as these can cause issues with skin tones. Chroma blue works extremely well but lots of people like to wear blue so this can cause you grief too. Back in the days of Mary Poppins and Ray Harryhausen, subjects were shot against WHITE but sodium vapor lights were used due to them having a narrow colour spectrum, this was part of a photochemical process and won an Academy Award back in 1965 so we aren’t doing anything new really are we, they used to call it yellow screen shooting.

marypoppins

Not bad keying for 1964 eh? I am particularly impressed with the shadow!! No wonder they won a Oscar!!!

 

The most convincing reason for using a “GREEN” green screen that I know of is to do with resolution, many cameras use a CMOS sensor topped with a bayer filter and this contains twice as many green sites as it does red or blue ones thus a 4k single chip camera recording at say 4:2:0 would record green at 2k and red and blue at 1k. So green is popular due to it capturing the highest resolution. Back in the film days blue was the go to colour for the same reason, as the blue layer in film stock had the finest grain. Remember with keying it’s the edge detail that makes or breaks the effect so the better resolution the better and more convincing the end result will be.

bayerpattern

 

Green screens also require less light than the blue ones to illuminate and this can be a bonus but on some occasions however the use of a blue screen may still be preferable, for example if the end result is a night time scene then any excess green will stand out against the blue hue that these scenes often have but any excess blue light will blend in nicely.

 

Ok, so I hope to see some amazing stuff from you all, why not let us know if you do anything fun or exciting as we are always on the look-out for something cool to blog about.

 

Cheers folks and happy shooting

 

BB

 

 

 

23
Mar
16

Something slightly different-Sunlight

Sunlight

sunlight1.jpg

I don’t know about the rest of you, but everyone here at Pixipixel is well and truly over winter. Short cold and dull days are not exactly the stuff of great photographs or location shoots are they? This has however given me an idea……….

As a departure from my normal rambling “Kit Of The Week” blogs I’m going to try something a little different, more along the lines of a how to guide, and what better place to start than how to recreate sunlight?

So please don’t take this the wrong way, I know many of you will be well versed in this but you never know you may pick something up even if it’s only a nice tan.

Firstly a small bit of Brucie theory:

Sunlight (I’m talking about a bright blue sky sort of sunlight not an overcast miserable day) is a hard light. You can see this if you look at your shadow on a bright day, it will be well defined with hard edges and a high contrast between it and the surrounding ground, in fact often exactly what we try and avoid as image makers. So why is this?

 

Ok, so back to photography basics for a moment, a hard light is produced by a small light source like the sun!

Yes I know the Sun is big (1392000 km across ish) but it is also a long way away, so to us it appears fairly small in the sky. This would be different if we stood on Mercury, but we aren’t so stop being awkward.

Now with the light source being small and far away the light rays that “hit” us are reasonably parallel to each other and this is what gives us the hard edged, high contrast shadows that we associate with summertime. With me so far?

 

So it makes sense that to recreate sunlight we either need to find a massive flaming orb and install it at the center of our solar system and pray for a break in the clouds or use a small light source in the studio itself. I know which option is easier, but exactly which light source should we use?

 

Now up until this point I’ve been thinking in general terms but obviously you moving image types are going to need a continuous light, whereas us stills guys can use flash or continuous. This is no big deal because we have numerous options for everyone.

 

Starting with us stills guys and looking at flash lighting we have a couple of options. Firstly and most simply a bare head will work fine, provided it is positioned at a reasonable distance from the subject. The trouble with this is that the light rays will be scattered causing a more diffused effect and also any stray light will bounce around the studio, becoming unwanted ambient light and further softening the effect. A small reflector or even a snoot will greatly help with this, however a purpose built modifier will yield much better results.

 

Both Profoto and Broncolor produce Fresnel lensed attachments for their lights and these help to bring those pesky light rays under control and more parallel to each other creating a beam of hard light (much the same as a lighthouse). This is a great starting point and works very well. The Broncolor attachment is called a “Flooter” and the Profoto version is the “Fresnel Spot”.  Both are fairly large so will need to be positioned at a distance from the subject. Very small versions are available such as the Broncolor Picolite Fresnel Spot Attachment but they are best used for tabletop macro sort of work, also we don’t carry them at the moment, so best you forget I ever mentioned them.

 

profres.jpgbronpico.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happily this Fresnel approach works well, but it can be done better and both the big names in flash have specific light shapers for this, they are radically different to each other but both work superbly.

 

Profoto have the “Hard Box” this is essentially a T shaped tube with the flash head inserted into the bottom, it decreases the size of the light source and eliminates unwanted stray light giving a light rich in contrast and very similar to sunlight.

prohard.jpg

Broncolor have gone down a different path with their “Satellite” reflector. It’s a highly polished disc reflector into which a standard head is fired this reflector concentrates the light giving the daylight effect, it’s a bit like burning ants with a magnifying glass back in the schoolyard and must not be left in the back of a car on a bright day (I learnt that one the hard way myself).

bronsatt.jpg

Both the Profoto and Broncolor solutions work better if the flash heads protection glass is replaced with a special purpose one. Just to confuse us the Profoto frosted dome should be replaced with a clear one and the Broncolor clear dome should be replaced with a frosted one!!

breisepara.jpg

The next method to consider is the use of a parabolic reflector, now these “Para” reflectors are designed to bring those light rays parallel again and do a far better job than a spherical reflector, I won’t go into detail why but it’s all to do with internal angles of reflection and is also probably why rugby is a better game than football!!!

Briese make a really magnificent version specifically designed for the recreation of sunlight, it produces a spectacular fresnel like light that is also very enveloping and it can be used with flash or continuous lights.

sphericalvparabolic.jpg

See how I made the move from flash to continuous so smoothly…….. I think that’s called a segway. I’m getting the hang of this I think??

 

Ok so you moving image people have been very patient with me again, thanking you, now it’s your turn.

 

Nothing changes as far as light modifying is concerned between flash and continuous, I am pleased to say so all that stuff about a small light source with parallel rays of light giving a hard light is still correct.

You can use numerous lights to give you the “sunlight” look. Traditionally an 18k hmi Fresnel has been the go to fixture for film crews looking to recreate sunlight but with recent improvements to lights we no longer always require so much power. A good alternative is the Arri max 12K or the Arri m90 9k both of which have the unique MAX reflector giving a light quality similar to a fresnel but without the lens.
maxref.jpg

With the extra power delivered by the Arri Max range of lights you can afford to use diffusion to “take the edge off” so for an exterior shoot often an 18k or 12k unit will be used with a 9k through a scrim (1/2 stop) as a fill. In studio the smaller Arri M series units often will be employed and Kino’s or LED’s used to fill in.

The Alpha 18K K5600 is another very powerful light that could be employed to recreate daylight/sunlight, with its clear front it will give a slightly less hard light than a Fresnel but it comes with a Fresnel lens too if you need to harden up a bit so it gives you some options.

 

It’s worth mentioning at this point that despite recent improvements to cameras 18k is still the goto strength required to override sunlight, yes the Arri max range will give you the equivalent oomph at a slightly lower power rating but the sun is the sun and its not getting any duller just because the chaps at Arri are getting smarter. Film crews use 18k for one very important reason, clouds, if they appear and you don’t want to hear “cut” then you need the power of 18K to keep shooting. From what I understand this is not going to change no matter what improvements are made to cameras, well not until the sun goes super nova anyway and I think we will be safe from that for a couple of years yet.

 

Now one last thing to consider is the good old inverse square rule (remember that) it states that the strength of a light is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from its source. Now when you think about the Sun itself, it is so large and so far away from us that any exposure drop over say the length of a room is negligible, therefore a larger light positioned further away is going to give you more consistent light levels across your set than say a smaller one positioned closer. Now I don’t think I am contradicting myself as a large light positioned at a greater distance becomes a “smaller” light source just like the sun and hence retains the hard light characteristics.

tattoo.jpg

(I had to include this pic as it proves the inverse square law can also apply to people’s intelligence in relation to the distance from a tattooist shop.)

 

Ok so that’s how to recreate sunlight, easy eh it’s all about recreating the same characteristics in your light that would be present in real sunlight and in a studio when you don’t have real sunlight to work with it’s an extremely useful thing to be able to do, but once outside in the real sunlight is it a redundant skill, does it still have a use? Well to the uninitiated you would think that bright sunlight at lunchtime on a nice day would be about as good a light as you could get and it certainly is hard, high in contrast and powerful but that doesn’t really help us as photographers does it.

 

Bright sunshine is (somewhat counter-intuitively) not great for us image-makers. The high contrast nature of this light can cause us problems with tonal range and correctly exposing our subject and the background at the same time. Think about a beach scene on a bright summers day, you want to take a nice picture of the kids running out of the surf so you grab your snapper and shoot only to find that.

You have a beautiful blue sky and silhouettes for children or nicely exposed children and a washed out sky. “Damn it I spent a small fortune on this camera and  I can’t even get a snap of the kids!”

So how do we get round this problem?

Simple, you overpower the sun!

Now you can stop short of creating a small fusion reaction in your speedos to do this, as the sun is surprisingly easy to overpower (well for us stills guys it is anyway).

 

Essentially all we need to do is to meter for the background exposure and then add in some fill flash to light our subject. This flash needs to have the same characteristics as the sun to keep the feel, but we know how to do that now don’t we? Using flash for this is easy as we don’t actually need a particularly powerful flash, we as stills people only have to overcome the sun for a fraction of a second and flash equipment is good at that, it has the ability to push out large amounts of power (light) for very short amounts of time.

 

For you filmmakers however it’s a different story, yes the theory of exposing for the background and then filling the subject is the same but you need this light on for the full duration of each frame and for the entire shot. Therefore you need a lot more punch to do the same thing as us stills guys, traditionally an 18k Fresnel or similar is used for this (try running that off 4 AA’s) oh and if the kids are running any distance you’re going to need more than one to “keep them in sunlight”.

 

At this point I realize how lucky I am to be a stills guy, it puts me in mind of watching the odd orchestra walk through the green channel back in my former life, I always wondered if the double bass player was jealous of the flautist at airports.

 

That’s all folks,  let’s make this year’s summer brighter than last year by everyone using artificial lighting lots n lots. Perhaps we can bluff the sun into shining a bit more!!!!

Now before I go, the shrewd folks amongst you are probably jumping up and down screaming what about colour temperature but that’s something for a future blog I think as it’s a subject all on its own and depends a lot on what sort of sunlight you are simulating, be it midday or evening and so on I’ll get back to you on that.

Likewise if you are trying to recreate a diffused sunlight (overcast) look then we need a chat about scrims and so on, again that’s for another day.

 

I hope you all learnt something if only how to brighten up a miserable English “spring” day, or how to avoid work by reading a verbose and slightly silly blog?

Cheers for your time…… Now get back to work!

 

Merry Lighting BB

16
Mar
16

KOTW Anton Bauer Cine Batteries

Anton Bauer Cine Batteries

Well I’ve been given easier tasks, “do a blog about the new Anton Bauer Cine batteries”. I’m not complaining about doing a blog, or for that matter the rather nice new batteries from the folks at Anton Bauer, but how am I meant to make a battery sound fresh and exciting eh?

anton bauer batteries.jpg

Batteries are one of those things that we need on almost every job but they are often the last thing you think of, sure your DOP often has a favourite camera and specific lens in mind when we get the list to quote on, but more often than not we get a line on the list saying something like “and batteries to suit” or “and 6 batteries”. I have a feeling that once the Cine batteries from Anton Bauer start to make an appearance on your jobs we will start to get specific requests for them.

 

So why would you want these over another battery system?

 

Well for a few reasons actually, firstly and I have to say it’s about time, the new Cine batteries have a large LCD display on each battery showing exactly what percentage of power is available, so a quick glance into the bag and you know exactly how much oomph you have left. I wish all batteries had this feature as I’ve lost count of the number of AA’s I’ve binned that probably had some life left in them or the amount of times I grab my go pro to find its flat because the Wi-Fi button got pressed in my bag and my “charged” spare is flat as a lizard drinking.

 

batts2.jpg

This same display changes from percentage readout to remaining time readout in minutes and seconds once you connect it to something.

 

Now talking about connecting they come in either V mount or the Anton Bauer gold mount, we have opted for V Lock here. For ease of operation they also all sport a PowerTap connector to power auxiliary accessories like monitors etc.

 

The other advantage with these new batteries is the reduced footprint making these smaller than the normal offerings from Anton Bauer and hence ideally suited for Arri Alexa mini or the Dragon Weapon or for remote operation on stabilizer rigs, drones and so on.

 

I guess that battery safety is also a big thing at the moment, especially after a Christmas full of exploding hover boards eh. Well Anton Bauer has made some real efforts to make these batteries as safe as can be. They incorporate “fuse link” technology that protects surrounding cells from “catastrophic damage” should anything go wrong. Numerous sensors within the battery line ensure optimal battery performance. These sensors check temperature and over-current states.

 

So if you are in the market for 12 amps of serious 14.4 volt power in either 90 or 150 WH then look no further than the new Cine system from Anton Bauer and to find them. Well as with all the best new equipment you know where to find it, right here at Pixipixel.

 

Now one thing that really impresses me regarding these batteries is that they are backwards compatible, meaning that they will work with our (and your) existing Anton Bauer chargers. This is, in my book a demonstration of great customer service and support and I wish more companies would work like this.

 

Well that’s it folks, sorry I couldn’t make these batteries any more exciting for you, if you want excitement from a battery then put your tongue across the terminals but other than that just enjoy the fact that you don’t have to think about them too much.

Ok so to the all-important BCR. Well they gained points for that wonderfully useful display and their cool look but mostly for the compatibility with existing chargers so I think an 8/10 is a pretty good score especially for a BATTERY!

 

 

Specifications:

 

90WH

Watt Hour 90 WH

Size 11.86 x 9.75 x 10.19 cm

Weight 1.04 kgs

Voltage 14.4 volts

 

150WH

Watt Hour 150 WH

Size 11.86 x 9.75 x 10.72 cm

Weight 1.22 kg

Voltage 14.4 volts




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