Category Archives: Category Main

The “Creative Mindset” – Part 1

One of the key characteristics of the creative personality is boredom.

Creatives simply grow tired of current trends faster than the typical consumer. And they likely work harder than the typical consumer to stay on the cutting edge of that question-“Yes, but what is next?”

It never ceases to amaze me how many people suddenly realize their interest in a specific look, color, or pattern- after years of hard work in the industry to make that trend “stick.” (Remember that Cerulean Sweater scene in Devil Wears Prada?) It is no accident every baby nursery in the U.S. is currently painted in Grey and Yellow/Turquoise Chevron.

The real curiosity is that every mother thinks they have landed on this look entirely of their own creative ingenuity. (More on this later)

Obviously, there are trends to art and fashion just as there are in current tech.

This is the key- Understanding where the Creatives are heading gives you a major advantage in scouting out the appropriate gear, before the rush begins. This was the case several years ago with the adaptation of Nikon/Canon, and then Leica lenses to the EPIC, and other camera systems. (Several lenses I had purchased for under 200 now sell for 3-5x that on Ebay.)

A good example of this type of trend? Anamorphic lenses.

J.J. Abrams gets a LOT of flak about his lens flares.  And just look at that production quality:)

But he started a trend. One that was visibly different than any other Director/Producer, and one that built Bad Robot into a major player in Hollywood- eventually leading to his placement on Star Trek, and now Star Wars.

Studio Executives saw something “different” in his films, and likely could not put their finger on what made his stuff look so unique. Now- everyone knows, and is has almost become a joke. Flares are mimicked everywhere. And to the creative, that equals boredom.

Fortunately, trends in film also move somewhat slowly. This is especially the case as the Development/Production cycle for a film may take a year or two.

Here are a few more recent trends worth mentioning:

1. Teal/Orange.

The “strongest” visual color contrast pairing available on film, the dynamic look lent itself primarily to action films- and the trend was so overplayed it became visually nauseating, at least in my estimation. See Tron, Iron Man, Transformers. (and more examples) Fortunately, it may also be close to played out in 2015.

 

2. Tilt/Shift Photography.

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Though more commonly used in photography, the technique certainly gained prominence with the ability to adapt Nikon/Canon lenses to digital cinema cameras. The significant change to the depth of field caused such a drastic visual difference, it was jarring, but also quickly became a sort of Youtube novelty. And a little bit does go a LONG way.

See it used (correctly) in Social Network’s Boating Scene:

 

3. POV shooting. GoPro has made it’s mark.

As headache inducing as they may be on a large screen; 1st person video games, handheld “Prosumer” cameras, and the extreme sports world have all done their part in ingraining this singularly unique perspective of the world into our consciousness. (I will cover much more on DRONES later.)

Action shots are more intense, immediate, and personal, even if at the sacrifice of picture quality and resolution. And GoPro is always hard at work making significant advances in higher resolution cameras for this type of application.

I cannot say enough about the standard of quality and price point for such a compact camera: 4K 30 FPS, WIRELESS Audio/Video output and camera control, stereo onboard mics) Great stuff from such a small camera.

For whatever it is worth, this trend may be just gaining steam on the big screen. Look for much more of this type of footage in 2015, and likely over the next few years. With such intense brand loyalty, it appears GoPro may be just getting started.

(By the way, you HAVE to see this: The Ultimate POV Shootout. This could certainly snap a less extraordinary man’s neck!)

 

There are other trends out there-and we may cover several more next time- But the key is this: Once a trend has been spotted, prices and availability of gear do not tend to go back down.

Anamorphic and Tilt/Shift lenses can be difficult to obtain, and the prices are soaring. They used to be nearly useless, and often sat on Ebay for quite some time- relatively unnoticed. Not the case now.

It all comes down to the following:

1. Know your gear. Be vastly curious about “what else” your camera is capable of; Tech is evolving quickly.

2. Stay on top of what gear is being introduced, and what it allows you to DO that you could not before. (think MOVI!)

3. Specifically seek out challenges: what has not been done yet? Do not be afraid to seek out the especially difficult stuff FIRST. Show even a glimpse of what could be possible, and others will come along to simplify the process. Remember- if it were simple now, everyone would already be doing it.

and finally:

4. Don’t be afraid of a little boredom.

 

My next post will include a few trends I am currently interested in, and links to some of the best methods for staying up to date on gear that can make it all happen. It may just be worth checking it out for yourself.

 

See you soon!

-Stephen

Holiday Update

1. The -Up For Grabs- page has been updated.

From one Ebay addict to another, I highly recommend keeping an eye on it. I will continue to try and update it regularly, but the last batch of stuff included several EPIC-X cameras for almost half price.( !?) One complete kit sold for under 12K.

This time I have added a few RED lenses, a Cinevised Tokina, and some great O’Connor gear. Check it out! then Bookmark it:)

 

2. Does anyone have any experience with TILTA gear?

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I have been keeping an eye on their Matte Boxes and follow focus units for quite some time, and have seen surprisingly good reviews on their equipment. They have introduced a new wireless follow focus system, and I would be highly interested in a review from anyone who has used one. See here:

http://www.tilta.com/info/d-7-_en.html

https://vimeo.com/91647003

Their price point is really good, and they seem to be a huge professional step up from DSLR type gear- (REDROCK MICRO, etc.)

I am also a big fan of the wooden grips, as they tend to soften up and “wear in” over time.

 

3. Steadicam Page on its way.

I have almost finished rewiring/adapting my Steadicam flyer to work directly with RED DRAGON/EPIC, etc. I will look forward to posting results on the project over the new year.

 

4. Breatown.com is up and running.

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Breatown is home base for me when networking or assisting others in projects. I am not much for HTML or coding, so I am proud of how it ended up, for the amount of time I put into it. The goal is to one day transform it into a fully fledged business page for my own studio.

 

5. Happy tenth year anniversary to RED! 

Hopefully you have seen Jim’s note to RED this week- it was nice to see him posting again!

With the exception of this guy. I guess there is always one out there;) (But what a strange thing to post.!?)

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Dog years is correct, however. Anyone in the industry knows how hard it is to keep track of where we even were 2 -3 years ago. The 5 years I have been involved really does feel like a lifetime. (Anyone else remember shoulder mounting a RED ONE with a cradle, spinning hard drive, and RED Brick just a few years ago?) My apologies if you still are.. Ho Ho Ho.

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Have a happy Holidays!

-Stephen

Discovering the Canon 400mm R-SET F4.5

Every once in a while, something really cool will make it’s way to my desk. Most people know of my fondness for older lenses, so it was a nice surprise to find this on my desk this week:

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A friend’s Grandfather had passed away and left him with this Canon 400mm r-set f4.5. Fairly good condition, considering the age.

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Oddly enough,  I was not able to locate much documentation of the lens online- (so let me know if you are aware of any additional information on it!)

Here are some additional photos you may find interesting.

The bellows first caught my attention. They were in great condition, and were easily removable from the lens itself, so they could probably mount well to other lenses as well. They extended a good 8-10 inches:

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Loved the nice smooth 15 Blade Iris! (Notice the mount type- likely a Canon FL?)

And removable filter tray:

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And check out the Lens sight/viewfinder on this thing! Along with the long metal hood, it certainly added quite a bazooka-like look to the lens:

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So what’s the fun of having a lens if you don’t at least try and mount it to Dragon? I do not happen to have a Canon FL-EF lens mount adapter on hand, but the lens was heavy enough that a few packets of post-it notes brought it to the proper height to line it up for at least a peek:)

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And there you go- lens was in focus, and easily covered the sensor at 6K FF. This is a Scarlet Box, around 16 feet away:

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I may do additional tests or get it up on an actual lens projector, (after the purchase of a $10 Adapter) if anyone is interested. Feel free to make me an offer on the lens as well, if it fits your collection. Owner is definitely looking to sell.

Thanks for reading,

-Stephen

 

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REBOOT!

After a very frustrating amount of hours spent learning even the basics of Web page creation, I finally have a company web page up!

Please check us out at www.breatown.com!

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-I am also going to be regularly updating this site once again!!

I know it has been quite a while since our last update- and I am really looking forward to catching up. A lot has happened since the EPIC DRAGON roll-out!

Yes, Please.

You NEED to take a good hard look at this lens:

Why? Because it is changing the look of cinema. Really. It is a Wide Angle, T2.8, Full Frame Zoom. Yes- it even covers the Epic Sensor in 5k, and still shoots sharper than you can imagine. I must admit have been wanting this *Back ordered* lens for quite some time.

The Duclos Team has taken a good thing and made it even better- with it’s custom Cinema Mod, adding solid geared rings and a PL or Nikon mount. (They also managed to send the Ebay price of these Tokina lenses through the roof.) And it is so small! Just look at how beautifully it works with the Epic-

Ever since the Redrock Adapter became popular, the general consensus has seemed to be: Shallow Depth of Field= Professional. But when you have a camera capable of capturing 5K worth of usable resolution, it seems such a waste to use it all on Bokeh.

-Nothing demonstrated this better than seeing the images of Africa by helicopter in District 9. I believe that ever since than, audiences have started changing their opinions about what looks professional.. and projected in 4K, this lens is simply gorgeous. Just set it to infinity, and run around with the record button on.:) Here’s a Duclos Example-

With the Tokina 11-16, you open yourself up to an entire world. One with very wide, very sharp images. It works great for Timelapse, Nature, Architecture, and you can take it ANYWHERE. Think of it as cinema’s version of the GoPro. Although- you throw your Epic out of an airplane at your own risk.

As an added plus, it easily houses a set of Lee filters to the front with minimal vignetting, even at 11mm!!!

For Further info, here is an Evin Grant post about modding the Lee holder to fit Glass Filters-

http://reduser.net/forum/showthread.php?58313-Great-filter-solution-for-the-Duclos-11-16

There are also a ton of examples if you search Duclos or Tokina 11-16 on Vimeo.

Enjoy!

Stephen B.

Filter Philosophy 101

It is really difficult not to get excited about camera filters.

(…And probably just as difficult to try and explain that excitement to someone who doesn’t really care) But in my case, and more specifically, it is really exciting to get to explore all the possibilities that open up by having a Professional Cinema Grade Camera in such a small package.

When it comes to choosing a filter setup for Epic, I have been concerned with three things:

Getting the best optic quality possible- spending the least amount of money- and carrying the lightest load.

Because I plan on shooting Epic with Nikon glass, I have a very small lens footprint. This allows me to avoid the bulky and expensive pro matte boxes and full size filter systems available for cinema, and to start looking into smaller solutions- hopefully ending up with something far easier to carry along with the Epic in a backpack.

Basics:

The Cokin series and Lee Filter Holders are a good jumping off point. They are seriously lightweight, and will easily hold a rotating Polarizer and ND filter- my two most commonly used filters.  It should definitely be noted that most filters that fall into this category are resin or “organic glass” (.. plastic) and going cheap on Optic quality doesn’t make much sense in front of an expensive camera. You also loose a lot in filter durability- with the result of swapping a size problem for a sensitivity problem.

Glass is still the best solution, and I have seen Tiffen and Singh Ray filters available for both systems, the only issue being cost.:) But with a good quality set of Tiffen or Singh Ray Filters, I would have no problem committing to the Cokin or Lee filter system- especially for personal use. (I do own a small cache of  Cokin P. filters)

A Bit more:

I have found several interesting options that I am only beginning to hunt down and test out.

Because I had settled on the thicker but higher in quality/durability glass filters, I had to find a system capable of holding them. Keeping my size down, I narrowed my search to 4×4 and 3×3 Filters and Matte Boxes- specifically ones with rotating filter trays. Looks like it is time for Ebay-

A recent Sale I have been keeping my eye on was for this Tiffen Filter Flex 4×4- for $100 dollars.

With hours left on the auction, I offered him $50 for it if no one ended up bidding. Risky, I know. But I consider it Christmas money very well spent. List price at B&H is still $874.95!!? Filters for 4×4 are still considerably more expensive than 3×3, and I may end up just selling or trading it.

The Big Winner:

If you do not shoot much with a wide angle lens, and vignetting is not an issue, Cavision has just come out with what looks to be the best 3×3 Matte Box on the market I have ever seen.

It bears every resemblance to the larger scale professional boxes, it is just built smaller. It clips directly to the lens, or to 15mm or 8mm Rod support, and has two filter trays- one rotating. Exactly in line with my needs. Plus it comes in with a list price of $249.00!!! That meets all three of my criteria for a Filter system. Ordered!

I will review it as soon as I get it in.

4K Release as Explained by Michael Cioni

http://michaelcioni.tumblr.com/post/14725750331/4k-digital-intermediate

This article has been making the rounds after the release of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Michael Cioni has always been at the center of digital post processing, and now finds himself overseeing the release of the first Film release in full 4K.

Michael really does a good job of breaking the production down by the numbers- and they are really mind blowing! Here’s a few- though I do hope you can read the whole article..

4K DATA

“GDT is approximately 230,000 frames long.” (Do the math on the possible cost if this were Film)

“These files averaged out to be approximately 45MBs per frame. ”

“This comes to a little over 1GB per second of data. ”

(Yes you read that right- ONE GIGABYTE PER SECOND.)

Here’s a few more-

“In the case of GDT, the uncompressed elements were approximately 55 terabytes of total storage.  ”

“On the whole, that’s not that much storage-probably only around $25,000 worth of actual drives. ” :)haha..

This puts a pretty good perspective on the necessary production pipeline for the future of the film industry. I find it fascinating that the focus has become the actual data transfer speed, and not just storage capacity. This is actually where Red excels as well. Especially for 3d playback, etc. Thanks to Red- Cinema has worked its way to the very front of the line in setting demands on processing power and raw data transfer speeds.

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Skater Dollies- Part 1

Though not a new piece of Technology, I am in total awe of PS Technik’s Skater Mini Dolly. Discovering this demo reel only further reinforced the versatility and solid design of the Mini Dolly in my mind- and why I would own one if my wallet were suddenly 5 thousand dollars fatter.

5 THOUSAND Dollars??? Reading around the forums, most users seem to be equally astonished at the price. Sure, it’s precise, but isn’t it basically 3 skate wheels and a mount?! It also happens to be the most original concept on the market- and it looks like what you are paying for most is the concept. (And a highly patented one at that.)

Surely there has to be something even *close* with a slightly less demanding price tag?? For several years, the answer has been NO. Although on DVXUser, a guy named Texanite was briefly selling his DIY version. Unfortunately, he had so many requests to build one, he eventually called it quits (somewhere around Skater #10.)

It looked like this:

But where there is demand, there is eventually supply. I was browsing Ebay the other day, and ran into the junk-crap-cheapo *ahem.. * ..Indie version for 120.00.

Pictured here:

I don’t usually go for cheap junk, but it does still appear to be the only alternative to selling a kidney for the PS Technik Skater. (What’s a Kidney go for these days anyway??) And with the diminished size of the Epic, it just may work- at least for something. Either way, it could serve as a good jumping off point if I were able to improve upon the original design- or just end up using it as a rolling Hi Hat.

From first glance, there are definitely design issues. Without a proper reference, the degree marks look only slightly more than useless- and the wheels are at the end of the spokes instead of in the middle like the PS Technik, so weight may be an issue. Also, the wheels will be unable to rotate a full 360 degrees, and from the look of the triangular design, aligning the wheels for certain movements may throw off the balance enough to topple the rig:) But it got my interest enough to seriously consider trying it out with some well deserved Christmas bonus cash. (Well deserved because I had to lead music for our Christmas Service with Strep Throat) Anyhow.. It does have a 7 Day return Policy..

Ordered. If there is any useability to this at all, I will certainly document it here.

Keep ya Posted.

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