I had the privilege of filming my nephew Landon a couple of weekends with his parents Randy and Kari at their home. My wife joined in and helped as a second shooter to capture his everyday life as a new baby with his dad and mom. I was lucky enough to film him in the early morning sleeping and was there to capture the very moment he woke up. Luckily he didn’t wake up because of some loud noise from me filming but instead woke up on his own. The first thing he did was smile even before opening his eyes. Then he woke up and was all smiles especially when his dad came in to get him up. The day went really smooth filming and both Randy and Kari were awesome to work with. I loved how they would let him have playtime on his mat right after he woke up and then Kari would read him a story or two in his rocker. They also are very active outdoors and showed me how they take Landon with them everywhere around the neighborhood. He seems to love the fresh air and of course all the activity outside. The video I created hopefully shows the fun side of their day with Landon and how much they both love their new baby boy.
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.
Finding a great deal on a great product is what I am all about. This brings me to my new Cinevate Titan Mattebox which I found on ebay. The only problem I see with purchasing already used gear is that it could be in not so great shape. But luckily pictures are provided that are actually of the product and you can ask questions to the seller if needed. This actually arrived and was in perfect condition with only a few scratches from obvious use which means the guy selling it found it useful too. The reason I picked the Cinevate Titan Mattebox was because it has some of the best features out there when I was researching for one plus all Cinevate products have an amazing build quality (Medusa which I bought earlier in the year). First, I love that it has a “swing away” feature so you can just open it up and change lenses on the fly easily instead of removing the mattebox first or the camera to replace a lens. It also has a magnetic catch to keep it closed when running around with it. The magnets are super strong and won’t let your mattebox open by accident. But if you are worried about that happening at all you can also use the small screw that comes with it to keep it closed. The filter trays both rotate 180 degrees but I haven’t used them yet since I am still waiting for my ND filter order. The carbon fiber rods are 15mm and I actually have taken them off the mattebox to use with my follow focus and Medusa cage. By doing that it makes the mattebox useless since you can’t attach it any other way. But I only had it taken apart for a few days in order to film some events with my new follow focus. Here is are a few pics of when I received my Titan Mattebox that I can’t stop talking about it and loving my new setup! Cinevate’s “Why a Mattebox” video is posted below to help explain the uses of a Mattebox with your dslr or camera.
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 have always wanted to up my production value on my video shoots by getting a follow focus but haven’t been able to afford one. By researching multiple sites (www.cheesycam.com) on these follow focus units I have found that Gini on ebay makes a very reasonably priced one. It’s a single rod design and now has a reversible gear. In order for a follow focus to work you need 15mm rods but to get those under your dslr camera you need some sort of base unit with rod support. I chose Cinevate’s Simplis unit with rod support. They make the best quality products for filmmakers which will definitely last longer than other brands. Plus I personally like the look of all black accessories instead of splashes of color which could draw more attention to yourself when shooting at an event. I made a top handle based off of Caleb Pike’s video and design with a quick release plate, cinevate handle, and a friction arm I bought a long time ago.
And once I had my cinevate mattebox delivered I actually decided I needed my follow focus to work so I took the 15mm rods off the cinevate mattebox and used them with my Medusa base plate with rod support. This allowed me to use the lens gears I had purchased from Cinevate and my new follow focus while I waited for my shipment of the Cinevate Simplis unit. Here are some more pics of my temporary setup with my Zoom H1 audio recorder attached.
Update: With the friction arm you can’t have a battery grip and a Cinevate grip. I’m not sure about other grips/handles but the 11″ friction arm that I have won’t stretch over the camera with a battery grip. Just a small side note.
I am still in shock that I get to participate in creating a music video for a very talented musician and long lost high school acquaintance Chris Ely. The first music video I get to participate in is for his song titled “Lost Souls” from his Album “Can’t Stay for Long“. You can find his entire album on iTunes and Amazon for purchase. Now back to the first day of shooting this music video. We had a half dozen dslr cameras on this first day. They consisted of Canon 7Ds, T2i’s, 60D, and T3i from what I remember. We utilized my glidecam hd 4000, my new cinevate atlas 10, a pico flex dolly, and multiple Manfrotto 561BHDV-1 monopods for shooting this day. I have to say that all of these things helped imensely with the production value but ultimately it was the creative eye from all of the shooters handling their cameras that made each take worth every second. Also, the entire band was a joy to work with especially when they recognized our equipment and talked to us about it. It’s surprising how many people actually know about DSLR stuff and have an interest in it. The guy in charge of this whole thing is Matt McDonald who I met at my new day job editing corporate videos for Cisco here in SJ. You can also check out his website here. We will have another shoot for the storyline of the song Lost Souls at the end of March. After that the editing (all done by Matt) should begin and be pieced together for a cool music video. I can’t wait to shoot the rest of this and to see the final product of our work. It’s great working with such professional people doing fun stuff like this music video.
Here are some photos of the shoot which took place at Westgate Church. All photos were taken with my iphone so the quality isn’t that great. But it is what it is. Enjoy.
Ok. I have to admit something. I like antique stores in Albany, Oregon. It’s awesome to see history from random families dating back to early 1800’s. But that’s not why I go into them all the time when I am visiting family. I think it’s the hunting down camera equipment that is really exciting especially when I found some amazing deals on lenses. The first amazing find was a Canon FL 55mm 1.2 which came with 2 other random lenses. They were all packaged nicely into a ziplock bag and labeled $15.00! Yes, only $15.00 for all three. But the Canon 55mm FL 1.2 was like finding gold. It’s my favorite manual focus lens out of all my lenses right now. Now onto the latest find from these antique stores. I was looking around and saw an old long leather lens case behind some glass in one of these stores. I thought it was going to be a really old and crappy lens and not a canon mountable one. Well, it was an old leather case but when the store clerk took the lens out of the old case I found a “PRISTINE” zoom lens by a company I had never hear of called “Asanuma”. This was a 70-220 3.5 with an older FD mount which I had an adapter for so I could use it right away on my T2i. The glass and lens body had never been used from what I could tell. Not a single scratch on the outside and not a single mark on either end of the glass. This lens even does macro and has a mount on the underside because it is really heavy. So, now for the price. Only $30! I couldn’t believe it. I tried not to act surprised but I couldn’t help it. I bought it right away and tried it out. Amazing! Here are some pics with my T2i and Seagull viewfinder (like Zacuto).
I have always wanted to add a follow focus to my productions so I could get away from any shaking while filming with my T2i. I have finally made my decision and purchased an iFocus from Gini on eBay thanks to Emm at www.cheesycam.com for always putting the best reviews on dslr products out there. All I can really say is WOW! Super fast shipping and amazing quality product at a great price for independent filmmaker. So far I haven’t been able to try it out until my Simplis w/rails and rail block arrives from Cinevate (25% moving sale until end of March). But the quality right out of the box seems great. It’s CNC milled aluminum/some sort of metal and the marking disk has powerful magnets to hold it on or if you need to take it off. The only downside I can see immediately is the hard stop is locked down at the top of the follow focus. This isn’t a huge deal breaker at all and should still be usable for any production shoot I am on. Right now I can’t wait to get my entire dslr rig setup and start making movies. Here are some pics. More to come in the next few weeks.
I now have in my arsenal of production equipment an amazing Cinevate Atlas 10 slider. This thing is built like a tank and smooth like butter when sliding anything I throw at it with my DSLR plus attachments. Even vertical mode is a sweet addition when wanting a different type of shot during production. I found this awesome slider on the one and only craigslist. You never know what you will get on craigslist from random sellers but this time it was awesome. I bought it off of a fellow Vimeo user (that I have been following for over a year) and wedding cinematographer Luke Goodman. Check out www.lukegoodman.com if you are in need of an awesome wedding cinematographer. He made the whole craigslist process easy for me to purchase this slightly used but in great condition slider from him. He said it was a little too heavy for all the running around during weddings that he does but instead would be going with something lighter for himself. As for me this was perfect because I have always wanted a Cinevate slider ever since they showcased their first Atlas slider a few years ago. I have a few photos here with my camera and slider in vertical mode. I had to lock down the tripod head pretty tight to keep it there but it wont budge once tightened and upright like in the photos. Pretty sweet for my future production shoots. Adds just a little more to some sequence shots.