I filmed recently a very cute newborn baby boy named Landon. He pretty much is around 2 month old and cooperated with both cameras. My wife joined was helping me film Landon while representing her newly created company Style My Heart was indispensable because of all the angles and ideas for filming him with his parents. This was Day 1 of the process and I brought an arsenal of equipment to use which included my Cinevate Atlas 10, Medusa conversion, ifocus from Gini on ebay, and Cinevate Lens Gears, glidecam was also used for a shot or 2. I found that having a follow focus increased my shots by 75% when used with a monopod or on a slider. I can’t express enough how having this single device will get you some amazingly smooth shots when racking focus. I have always tried doing this with just my hand on the lens and it works to some extent but sometimes no matter how smooth you think you are at turning your lens by hand it still shows up as shaky when reviewing the footage. The monopod is another piece of equipment that I have recently picked up which helps while using a follow focus or just getting those close shots macro shots without picking up any shake in your footage. It’s way easier to get up close with a monopod than carrying around a tripod with your camera setup. The top handle and friction arm worked great! I could hold the camera as low as I could to the ground while filming Landon which wouldn’t have been that easy without laying on the ground the whole time (which I did anyways). Cinevate and it’s gears with the Gini follow focus (i focus) work perfectly together too.
Another day or two of filming little Landon is needed to get a perfect video together for the parents Randy & Kari but with this new gear it’s making life filming that much easier.
My Simplis and rails block with 15mm rods has arrived! It is the most versatile purchase I have ever made and will complete my dslr rig. The base plate system or Simplis has a quick release ability to take any size plate you might currently have. You can adjust it’s width by using an allen wrench to fit your specific plate. My plate is the Giottos since it was cheaper back in the day to purchase their QR plate system instead of Bogen/manfrotto 501. I can now say that Cinevate has made the most amazing device out there for any camera. The Simplis quick release plate can release up instead of trying to slide your camera into a base unit while holding down a button and then trying to tighten it down when the tightening handle on your Giottos or Manfrotto QR base hits the bottom of your camera. This is the most impressive part of Simplis and makes it worth every penny. By just dropping down your camera onto the Simplis base it will snap closed onto your quick release plate and all you have to do is make sure it feels tight by pressing a little on the side release handle.
Now on to my entire setup. I can now use my Cinevate Mattebox with the Simplis and rails block accessory I purchased with the Simplis unit. And I can also use my follow focus with the Cinevate gears I have installed onto all of my lenses. The gears are another story. They are great because you don’t have to worry about zip ties running into your follow focus gear. They are a continuous circle around the entire lens and the spokes used to secure them have a nylon tip so not to scratch your precious lenses. They even worked on my old school Canon FL 55mm 1.2 lens. I attached them to my Asanuma 70-210, Rokinon 14mm, and my Sigma 35mm lens. I have taken some photos of everything I am now using but the setup will and can change at any time because everything Cinevate makes like the Medusa and Simplis gives you so many options that you can’t possibly settle with just one……..until I find the perfect configuration that is.
Cinevate makes a really cool cage for filmmakers it’s called Medusa. The coolest thing about this cage is that you can take it completely apart and use its components for whatever you need. There are 1/4″ threads on everything which makes it a universal piece of equipment. I took mine apart and used the handles on my “Caleb Pike” rig with a friction arm and quick release base plate before I received my Mattebox and Simplis setup. Once I received my Mattebox I attached part of the Medusa cage to the top of the Mattebox since there were 1/4″ threads on top. This gave me a nice top handle which I wouldn’t have otherwise with my battery grip attached to my camera. Cinevate does sell a Mattebox with the capability for a top handle and extra rails over the top so you can attach your follow focus above the camera which actually gives you more room to move the follow focus if needed. I am finding that I might have to go that route and get the real accessory but for now this mod works great. Here are some pics and a Cinevate video about Medusa, follow focus (the real Cinevate Durus), and different ways to rig your stuff around your camera. Check it out below.
A company called Style My Heart (my wife Ranya’s company) which makes almost everything and anything creative jewelry wise has made me something random called Nuns Knickers for my dslr setup and Mattebox. This is basically what it is. A mattebox comes with usually a multitude of foam donuts or circular inserts to help block light coming in from behind the mattebox and above the lens. This donut usually needs to be changed out depending on the diameter of your lens. And because I have a Rokinon 14mm which has a HUGE diameter because there is a non removable lens hood and the glass is just huge to get the wide 14mm angle I can’t use the same donut for let’s say my 55mm. I would have to unscrew the donut holder and place in another donut to fit a smaller lens. This takes too much time in the field while shooting. So I did a little research and found 2 companies that make these universal light blockers. First is Zacuto‘s Universal Donut found here with a video to demonstrate installation. This is just a little too expensive for me so I check out the second alternative with a company called Genus. They have one called Nuns Knickers which I find very funny so I am using this as the name for my homemade one. Here is the Genus one which is definitely a little cheaper than Zacuto’s and differently made as well. I went another route and had my wife make me one with draw strings built in. I had some bose headphone bags and doubled them up to make sure light wouldn’t get through and cut a hold in the bottom of each. Also, cut them way down because I only need about 3 to 4 inches or even less between the mattebox and lens. So far this had been working great. It can be a little difficult to get the draw strings around a smaller lens but so far it works. The pictures below show some of the earlier versions which was slightly too large. The “Knickers” have been cut down to about 2″ now and seem to work better.
I just have to brag a little about my wife Ranya Adkinson’s design capabilities. She has made an awesome heavensent films website and also designed a really cool logo too. After designing the logo she then meticulously created the business cards which look amazing! There are pics from both sides of the card. I then asked for the photoshop file with all of the layers so I could animate her design. I think the logo really pops on black but also looks great over white when needed as seen in the animation below. The very simple animation was done in Motion 4 which I then brought into final cut and added to some recent videos as a watermark and ending animation.
I recently went to Matt Mingus’s T-ball game and wanted to try out my Glidecam HD4000 but with my iPhone4 mounted on the lower sled. This of course made it difficult to get it balanced but I wanted to try out some different editing ideas cutting from iphone footage and my T2i with 14mm lens. Here are some pics of the setup when I was done figuring it all out. But ultimately in the end after running around with it I decided it wasn’t going to work perfectly until I got a fisheye lens for the iPhone. Funny enough they do make them and you can find them on ebay for a pretty decent price.
heavensentfilms.com has filmed 2 new babies using multiple lenses and a lot of production equipment with the Canon T2i DSLR. First off, these experiences filming babies other than my daughter has been very exciting and brought back those memories of my daughter growing up. Since heavensent films usually only films babies up to 1 year old I know that it’s more of a creative workflow than anything else to achieve a creative final movie. Both sets of parents have been the best to work with and really allowed me to use all of my techniques in filming their beautiful baby. The filming usually only took about an hour or so and if needed we would schedule another day with a possible location change. As you will see in one of the videos I was even allowed to film during a much needed nap time. I of course know how to be quiet around a napping baby but a few times I came close to being noticed by the napping one. In the end I enjoyed filming and creating these videos because it helped me step out of my comfort zone of just filming my daughter growing up.
Now onto my production equipment. For both films I used my collection of DIY video equipment which worked flawlessly for the most part. My DIY slider from Igus.com worked but has a tendency to vibrate the camera if I am sliding at an angle or off center from the rails. On my slider I use a “flexible friction power arm” as seen here http://cheesycam.com/flexible-friction-power-arms-for-dslr-accessories/ This arm is amazing on a slider. It allows me to shoot upside down, as high as the arm can extend, as low as the arm can fold, or at different angles. It’s a really strong arm to use and holds the T2i just fine at any angle. The problem comes up with the slider not allowing me to use as many angles as I want with the arm and camera. With the Igus slider you really have to center your camera on the sliding platform in order for it to be a smooth slide across the entire rail system. I now know the limitations but I do know that I can film at creative angles if I slide slowly and by putting an even amount of pressure from my hand I can get some amazing shots. Now for the glidecam hd 4000 and filming babies. I enjoyed this the most out of all my production equipment. The only thing I need to do is practice practice practice because I am nowhere near perfect filming with this yet. I know the shots I want but somehow I don’t think I have everything balanced perfectly yet to get those shots exactly the way I want them. I have tried more weights and less weights while extending the center post of the glidecam but still get some wobble in the image while I am filming. The technique using the left hand to barely stabilze and turn the glidecam could be where I am having issues but I don’t know for sure. I really just need this balanced perfectly first and then work on my technique. It’s just going to take time and practice.
The FD lenses I used during these shoots were the Canon FL 55mm 1.2 (my favorite), Canon FD 100mm – 200mm, and the Canon kit lens 18 – 55mm on the glidecam. There are many other lenses which I will be using on my next baby films now that I have an FD to EOS adapter with a diopter for helping get these lenses to infinite focus. I had been using a standard metal adapter without a glass element but I couldn’t achieve infinite focus with any of the FD lenses. Now with this new adapter all of my FD lenses work like they should and look amazing when filming with them. Here is a link to check it out http://cheesycam.com/the-cheaper-road-to-a-lens-with-f1-2/ The cheesycam website is a definite go to place for all of your production needs and questions you might have. He answers everything from DiY video equipment projects to actual products on the market for DSLRs.
Here are the 2 baby videos heavensent films has done and thanks for watching