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35mm Lenses - Style /Production Values - Letus35, Brevis35, P+S TECHNIK

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Danny Grizzle35mm Lenses - Style /Production Values - Letus35, Brevis35, P+S TECHNIK
by on Dec 29, 2007 at 10:00:30 am

I've become enamored with the look of 35mm still lenses on small format video cameras.

Specifically, the prospect of using one of these with my soon-to-be-delivered Sony PMW-EX1.

The question is this -- once you start with 35mm lenses, can you ever stop?

How does footage shot with the adapter intercut with footage shot without?

I'm thinking, "How can this thing work on a Steadicam?" On a Microdolly jib?

Just wondering, for those who have adopted the technology, does this technique completely take over your style?




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Jason JenkinsRe: 35mm Lenses - Style /Production Values - Letus35, Brevis35, P+S TECHNIK
by on Dec 29, 2007 at 5:21:19 pm

I'm sure Todd will weigh in on this since he regularly uses a P+S Technik. I haven't used any of them yet, but I have researched them extensively. I'm in love with the look as well and have plans to get one with the HVX-200 I should have in a week or so. Redrock Micro has what looks to be a nice follow focus unit for use with these adapters. What's even more interesting is their soon-to-be-released remote follow focus unit. This would allow remote focusing while the camera is on a steadicam or jib. Apparently one can even program a sequence of focus points for perfect repeatability. Anyway, I'm interested to hear what Todd has to add...


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Todd at Fantastic PlasticRe: 35mm Lenses - Style /Production Values - Letus35, Brevis35, P+S TECHNIK
by on Dec 29, 2007 at 6:49:37 pm

Hi Danny...

I'm breaking the thread and responding to Danny's post instead of Jason's so I can pull the questions...

I'm always happy to yammer on about DoF converters (probably too much for some people's taste) as I use mine almost every day, and have for about two years now...

[Danny Grizzle] "The question is this -- once you start with 35mm lenses, can you ever stop?"

Ha... sure. It just depends on the project that you are doing and what the needs are. If I want a filmic look, I always use them. If that's not the look I'm going for, I don't.

[Danny Grizzle] "How does footage shot with the adapter intercut with footage shot without?"

Not particularly well. It is a very different look than you will get from your video zoom. Sometimes you might be able to get away with it, but in most instances I would avoid it.

[Danny Grizzle] "I'm thinking, "How can this thing work on a Steadicam?" On a Microdolly jib?"

You have to think about it this way... what you are basically trying to do is get a 35mm film look out of your little video camera. Can you shoot 35mm film with a jib? With a Steadicam? Of course, people do it every day. I've used our P+S Technik converter on a jib a thousand times. I haven't used it on our Steadicam nearly as much, but just because I dont do all that much Steadicam shooting. The same rules that apply to a 35mm film camera apply to using a video camera with a lens converter... such as, with Steadicam you will want to stick to medium or wider lenses.

[Danny Grizzle] "does this technique completely take over your style?"

It probably depends on what your style is, or was. In my particular istance, it didn't make that much difference. We used to shoot both a fair bit of video and a good bit of 35mm film as well. Now I'm still shooting some straight "video" projects, but for others instead of shooting real film I'm now shooting HDV with a lens converter. My styles for the two different things have remained about the same... except now I'm shooting more "filmic" projects since that look now no longer costs me (or rather, my clients) a couple of dollars a second just to pull trigger on the camera.

I don't know what your past experience is, that will weigh in on how readily you adapt to lens-converted work. If you have a reasonable amount of past experience shooting film.... beginning to use 35mm lenses and a converter will be absolutely no sweat, you will find it super easy. It's pretty much the same as a film shoot except you are no longer stopping to load mags every few minutes. If you have never shot film before, it is going to be just a bit more challenging. Firstly, you are going to have to think about composition, camera moves, blocking, all of that good stuff... in a more filmic way that you are used to with video. Secondly, you might have to get used to changing lenes a lot (especially if just just shoot with primes, which is what I mostly do). And above all of that, you will really have to start thinking about focus...a lot. When shooting straight video, you really don't have to worry your brain to death about focus, becuase it is so deep. Tracking focus on a moving subject, for example, is easy as pie... a kid can do it. When you move to 35mm type shooting though, it's a whole different ballgame... focus becomes SUPER critical, and can frankly be very difficult. Even if you are shooting a still subject (say a head and shoulders shot), you may find that the DoF is as shallow as an inch or two. That can be a great look, but it is challenging. Their eyeballs may be in focus, but the tip of the nose and the ears are soft. If they (or you) move just a little, you are going to have to follow focus with them. It does take a LOT of practice. That is why I recommend 1) a good follow focus unit, and 2) the use of cine lenese rather than SLR lenses which some people use (the reason is that SLR lenses only turn a maddening tiny bit to go through their entire focus range, whereas with cine lenses you have to make almost a complete barrel turn).

A good follow focus unit is essential, too (I wish I had a better one, actually). You can find a lot of them in the sub-$1K range... but frankly most of them are not very good. A cinematographer buddy of mine calls them "Fisher-Price Follow Focus" units. Most of these inexpensive units just have too much "slop" in the gearboxes. Some say "minimal backlash" or "backlash of only one degree," but the thing is any backlash or slop in them is too much when doing critical focus work. Probably an Arri or Chroisel FF unit should be in my future... but I haven't been able to convice myself to part with the $2000-$3000 to get one yet.

Also keep in mind that this whole process can be a bit on the expensive side and can get away from you if you are not careful. We didnt' really set out to do so, but we ended up spending a great deal of money to get our rig exactly like we want. We spent a great deal more on lenses than we did on the lens converter, and we spent a good bit more on the converter than we did for the camera itself (which is an XLH1, not a real cheap one to start with). We justified this as we were basically replacing our 35mm film shooting, and managed to get the system to pay for itself very quickly. However if I was just an occassional shooter or trying to do a cheap indie I probably couldn't have justified the expense.

I will say though that just like almost any equipment in our business, you DO get what you pay for. The P+S Technik converter may be ten times the price of a Letus or a Brevis converter, but in my prejudiced opinion it is definitely worth the cost. The same for lenses... your image is never going to be better than your worst piece of glass, so that is not the place to skimp. If someone can't justify the cost of investing in a great set of cine primes, I will usually advise them to use SLR lenses as best then can for day-to-day stuff, and then when really critical project crops up they can rent a good set of PL mount cine primes for the specific gig. If you live in a decent-sized or larger city there is probably a cinema equipment rental house... and you can get a set of superspeed primes for something in the $300-$400 range.

I have probably droned on too much.... if you wanna hear more, dig out last summer's issue of Creative COW magazine or find the PDF file in the COW archives. I wrote a farily long (i.e., boring) article about our day-to-day usage of our XLH1 with a converter and film lenses that you can find there.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Danny GrizzleRe: 35mm Lenses - Style /Production Values - Letus35, Brevis35, P+S TECHNIK
by on Dec 29, 2007 at 7:41:57 pm

Thanks, Todd.

My background is still photography and film. Self educated, mainly. I was widely published even in high school, and doing commercial / advertising assignments. This was mid-70's era, before auto exposure and auto focus.

When I was young, a respected DP told me, "I'd rather start someone from scratch than try and make a cinematographer out of a sill photographer."

"Well, I'll show you," I thought. But, frankly, I understand the point he was making.

i understand the craft involved in film style production. 3rd assistant on a film crew is loading magazines, a critical task. An great assistant cameraman who can pull focus while the operator is working handheld is a marvel. I understand. And it causes me concern. Because of the nepotism factor, my assistants are my children. Not bad, but there is a difference in training someone to the point you can trust them, to the point you can stop thinking for them and doing their job in addition to your own, and simply hiring someone who has an accomplished set of skills out of their own burning passion to be involved in the trade.

I don't live in a big city, and I don't like to rent. But I do have a fabulous set of Canon FD breech mount lenses I would love to use again. I'm 50 years old, and some of these I bought when I was 15 years old. I know them, and I trust them. Some guys grow old clinging to their first '57 Chevy or 60's muscle car. Not me -- these Canon lenses are my thing.

I'm on eBay now shopping for an 85mm f1.2L. I can afford one now, but I don't think the newcomer will ever be special to me like the 9 lenses already in my old Halliburton case, the ones that brought me on this journey.




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Danny GrizzleRe: 35mm Lenses - Style /Production Values - Letus35, Brevis35, P+S TECHNIK
by on Dec 29, 2007 at 7:55:13 pm

re: Stedicam and jib use.

My concern here is the ungainly rig involved. I mean, some of my lenses have tripod mounts themselves. Add these DoF converter rigs, support rod systems, cameras, wireless mics, etc., etc.

It is hard to predict how challenging all this would get when balancing a Steadicam, or even what model would be required.

My plans include walking talking tours with owners of log homes, down halls, up stairs. I don't see how all this could be accomplished with a 35mm lens adapter rig. Or even with an assistant pulling focus. I love shallow DoF, but not every concept can be produced.

Which brings on the question about intercutting footage.

I will still work with a Chrosziel matte box. so I might be able to do something to take the edge off raw video, either with ProMist filters or post.

Is this plausible?

P.S. -- sorry for the long winded posts. I will probably be a flash on CreativeCOW. That's what happens when you are sitting around waiting for a camera that is on allocation. If you can't test it, next best thing is talking about it.



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Emre TufekciRe: 35mm Lenses - Style /Production Values - Letus35, Brevis35, P+S TECHNIK
by on Dec 29, 2007 at 11:55:03 pm

re: Steadicam and Jib use,

I use with HVX200, redrock M2, Zeiss primes with Bartech Follow Focus on a steadicam Flyer and it works just fine (good static and dynamic balancing). I have also great 1st AC who really knows how to judge distances and says its a lot easier working on steadicam as he can place himself between the camera and the subject (as opposed to being stuck next to me).

I also own a steadicam clipper 2 which can fly the same rig 10 times easier but not all my clients have a budget for that.

If you do intend to do steadicam work with primes (with an adapter) it is a lot different to doing video(eng lens) work where you point and walk. It is a lot harder and requires lot more practice (considering you've been to a steadicam workshop already).

Same principal applies to a jib as my AC will use a remote to pull focus. In fact we will be in Arlington cemetery next week where we will do a jib shot to go ground level from a tombstone to a high overview (same setup from above). The focus will shift from 1' to infinity.

BUT: Would I use primes for walking tours? No. It would cost too much and too long to film. With added light loss from the adapter, rehearsal time,added crew members, complexity of the set up, stamina, financial impact on the client, it would be too much of a hassle. The only time I use such a set up is for movies,commercials,music videos and high-end corporate jobs.

I hope this helps.

PS: Todd, dont hold back on your posts, make them long as you want. I truly enjoy reading them and appreciate the time you take out of your busy day to write them. We learn a lot. Cheers!!!


Emre
http://www.productionpit.com
Boxx Tech PC, dual-dual AMD 2.0,4BG ram,Avidexpress HD w/Mojo,UVW-1800,DSR-25, Adobe Premium CS3.Steadicam OP/Owner.

"Creative cow is udder madness."


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Todd at Fantastic PlasticRe: 35mm Lenses - Style /Production Values - Letus35, Brevis35, P+S TECHNIK
by on Dec 30, 2007 at 1:11:48 am

Hi Danny...

I'd say most of what Emre says about Steadicam and jib usage is right on the mark.

Using a lens converter and primes with a Steadicam is a bit of a beast in and of itself. I think a lot of it will come down to what gear you have, and how proficient a Steadicam op you happen to be.

Firstly, you are going to need to make sure you have the right gear to fly the camera... your rig is going to get quite a bit heavier once it is in "conversion" mode. How much does it weigh when all put together?... that will determine which Steadicam can fly it. It won't be something like the Merlin, I can tell you that for sure.

Our rig is fairly heavy... we start with an XLH1 (which is probably one of the heavier HDV cameras), then add a P+S Technik Mini35 (which I think is the heaviest lens converter), and for Steadicam work my prime of choice is usually my 18mm... which unfortunately is also one of my heaviest lenses (it's a gigantic beast compared to say my 35mm or my 50mm). Add some extras like radio mic receivers (when needed) and it all gets pretty heavy. I usually take the matte box off just to save weight.

We usually fly with the SteadicamSK. That's no longer a current model... but I'd say it is about mid range of the "full-size" Steadicam rigs in its capabilities and weight requirements. I don't remember the specs exactly, but I think it will fly cameras up to about 25lb... and I would say that our present camera configuration fits fairly comfortably within those tolerances but I wouldn't want to go a lot heavier either. We didn't buy this rig specifically for this camera, it's the one we were already using for 35mm film shooting... but fortunately the camera weights are similar enough that we can swap them easily without much trouble. We usually power our camera with full-size Anton-Bauer bricks, but at least we can use the Steadicam's power tap to juice both the camera and the Mini35 converter... that way we can take the big heavy brick off the back of the camera and save some weight (and my aging back).

I'd say your best bet would be to wait until you actually get your camera until you start worrying about this. IF you then decide to go the DoF conversion route, THEN figure out what kind of converter you want, AND what kind of lens(es), and get comfortable with the whole thing. Once you are, if you still want to do Steadi work, weigh the whole thing and see how big of a rig you need... or the smallest one that you can get away with.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Emre TufekciRe: 35mm Lenses - Style /Production Values - Letus35, Brevis35, P+S TECHNIK
by on Dec 30, 2007 at 12:48:43 pm

Here is a simple breakdown for future reference:

Steadicam SK:
Lift: 21 lbs
Arm: 1 piece articulated
Price: Ebay only or 2nd hand
Cons: green 4:3 monitor, old technology

Steadicam Flyer:
Lift: 15 lbs
Arm: 2 piece articulated
Price: 6k
Cons: Vibration and squeaking vests.

Steadicam Archer:
Lift: 50 lbs
Arm: G-50 (state of the art)
Price: 25K+
Cons: No lower electronics, less mass at the bottom. Harder to dynamicaly balance.

Steadicam Clipper 2:
Lift: 50 lbs
Arm: G-50 (state of the art)
Price: 35k+
Cons: 35k+

Steadicam Ultra:
Lift: 70 lbs
Arm: G-70 (state of the art)
Price: 70k+
Cons: Loss of operator height over the years. AKA: I used to be 6'2" now I am 5' 4" syndrome.


Emre
http://www.productionpit.com
Boxx Tech PC, dual-dual AMD 2.0,4BG ram,Avidexpress HD w/Mojo,UVW-1800,DSR-25, Adobe Premium CS3.Steadicam OP/Owner.

"Creative cow is udder madness."


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Todd at Fantastic PlasticRe: 35mm Lenses - Style /Production Values - Letus35, Brevis35, P+S TECHNIK
by on Dec 30, 2007 at 6:45:59 pm

Those specs seem 'bout right. I think I've actually had a bit more than 21 pounds on our SK when shooting 35mm in the past... of course the arm tension was cranked to the max, but it flew ok.

The little Flyer would probably work find for most people with a smaller HDV camera, lens converter, etc. Our camera rig is substantially too heavy for the Flyer though, so we stick with the older SK (since the next bigger Steadicam model is getting up seriously into the "real money" territory).

eBay can be an occasional source, but "real" Steadicams are fairly few and far between there. You'll mostly find the clonecams and wannabecams there, or homemade stabilizers for little DV cameras. Some of the Steadicam users groups might be a better source for finding someone who is trading up to a bigger/newer rig and has a used one for sale.

The real Steadicams hold their value pretty well, but now and then bargains crop up. I believe our unit listed for around $16K back when it was new. We bought it used about 7 years ago when trading up from a SteadicamMini and paid considerably less than that for it. My weird brush-with-fame story: the buyer for our Mini was George Lucas. I dunno what the heck he wanted with it because it was really little more than a toy, but new units were out of stock and he was in a big hurry and bought ours... I still have the fax from him with instructions on how to pack it and ship it to Skywalker. Odd.

Actually, one shouldn't be afraid of the older units, if you can find one. They are built like tanks and almost always still work like new. I also don't mind one bit the older-style "aircraft display" greenscreen monitors. I actually perfer them to the color TTFs. You can just see them so easily, even in bright direct sunlight. And some of us old-timers just think the greenscreen is the way a real Steadicam is "supposed" to look. Resistant to change, I suppose.

Of course, I dream of an Ultra someday. At least my brain does. My back, not so much.




T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Emre TufekciRe: 35mm Lenses - Style /Production Values - Letus35, Brevis35, P+S TECHNIK
by on Dec 31, 2007 at 12:55:33 am

I think you are correct about the SK2 being around 25lbs. My first rig was a Provid 2 (identical to SK except the 2 part arm that does not add to lifting capacity)which pretty much carried any camera I can throw at it but that was like 5-6 years ago so my memory is failing me.

Also like Todd said getting a decent rig on ebay is hard and a few in between.If you find a decent Sk or Provid I would say jump on it. Frank Rush from steadicam told me they were unable to find anymore green monitors for replacement so keep those babies away from sharp corners.

The most I every flew on a flyer was a HDX-900 and it was maxed out. They lift more then advertised but have a lot of drawbacks.

I cant see myself going back to green since I have been bitten by the HD ultra bright monitors. But at 5K a pop as an add-on their bite leaves a mark.



Emre
http://www.productionpit.com
Boxx Tech PC, dual-dual AMD 2.0,4BG ram,Avidexpress HD w/Mojo,UVW-1800,DSR-25, Adobe Premium CS3.Steadicam OP/Owner.

"Creative cow is udder madness."


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Todd at Fantastic PlasticRe: 35mm Lenses - Style /Production Values - Letus35, Brevis35, P+S TECHNIK
by on Dec 31, 2007 at 4:46:24 am

Emre... I'd best not even try one of the HD ultra bright monitors or I would probably feel I had to have one... and at just a few Steadi gigs a year I can't warrant it at all. As I get older my back keeps talking me out of Steadicam work. I should probably sell the SK, but I keep it around for occasional fun.

Frank...now there's a name I haven't mentioned in quite a while. You mean Frank "I'll be your new best friend as long as you can help me but let's not try that the other way around" Rush? Haaaa.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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