During Cine Gear 2019 PVC took the time to visit with Panavision to learn more about their new LCND (Liquid Crystal ND). We wanted to know how Panavision was able to show us one piece of neutral density filter with six separate stops of light blocking ND. Seeing the LCND in action gives an appreciation of new technology that looks so simple to use but probably was incredibly complicated to produce.
Originally announced at Cine Gear 2018, the Panavision LCND (Liquid Crystal ND) is closer to being an item for rental soon. What Panavision has done is make an electronic ND using an electrical charge to adjust the filter neutral density. Electronic means this Liquid Crystal ND needs power. Thankfully, the LCND can run off of an internal battery for 24 hours.
Now, I know what you are thinking, is any of this glass polarized to make the ND work this way. The answer is NO. There should be zero color shift or polarization from the Liquid Crystal ND.
The Panavision LCND can be operated standalone or wirelessly. The control unit looks very similar to some wireless follow focus units, I’m thinking about HEDEN’s in this case. Operators’ can also dial in the ND with fine granular detail when using the wheel on the unit to adjust the density of the LCND.
While it is a standard 4 x 5.65 sized filter you will still need to use a Panavision matte box with the kind of unique side loading filter trays. When talking to Panavision they did mention how they may look at putting the electronics and onboard control unit with LEDs on the top of the filter so it can be used in other Matte Boxes. When that will be I do not know.
This is what it feels like when a company takes Pro users seriously
Apple has launched a new Mac Pro. We didn’t think it was going to happen. We heard rumors, and we sang from the rooftops, and we kept asking, and honestly, for the first time ever, something is “back” in a Mac.
Generally when Apple drops something, it’s gone. But Apple dropped PCI expansion with the 2013 Mac Pro, and as they announced on stage at WWDC today, they just put it back in. “PCI is back.”
Blackmagic Design has just announced the Teranex Mini SDI To DisplayPort 8K HDR, an advanced 8K DisplayPort monitoring solution that will let you use the new Apple Pro Display XDR as a color critical reference monitor on set and in post production. The front panel includes controls and a color display for input video, audio … Continued
The Vazen 40mm Anamorphic Prime might be a great fit for MFT shooters doing narrative film work.
We talked with DP Michael Della Polla about an intriguing piece of glass, especially for GH5 and Z-cam E2 shooters: the Vazen 40mm t/2 1.8X Anamorphic Prime.
According to VZ Lens, it’s the “world’s first 1.8X anamorphic prime designed for Micro Four Thirds cameras with 4:3 sensors.” Aesthetically, you can expect smooth, oval bokeh, “well controlled” blue horizontal lens flares, and of course, the widescreen (2.39:1) look shooters look for when shooting anamorphic.
When it comes to movies, it’s the Director who gets all the accolades, but what does a Director actually do? The term “visionary” is often tied to great Directors, but what does that mean? When I hear the word visionary, my mind conjures up images of historical game changers, who did things like send us to the moon or invent the iPod. These are all intimidating things to live up to, so what does the term visionary mean when it comes to directing? It’s really quite simple. The Director’s vision can be boiled down to two things: what she visualizes as she reads the script and how she interprets the script’s meaning. This includes everything from how the film will be shot, how it will be cast down to how the characters will be portrayed, the mood, music and where the film will be set. Essentially, anything that we see or hear in a movie comes from a decision the Director made.
In a nutshell, the Director’s job is to get all the ideas out of her head and onto the screen and she does this with a team, collaborating from pre-production to post-production to assure that vision is fulfilled.
In answer to the question “what does a Director do?” we will explore:
How a Director works with a Writer
How a Director works with Casting
How a Director works with Production Design
How a Director works with Wardrobe
How a Director works with the Camera Department
How a Director works with the Editorial Department
How a Director works with the Post-Production process
How a Director Works With a Writer
The genesis of a story begins with the Writer. Sometimes it begins with the Producer or a book, but it is the Writer that crafts the story into a screenplay that can be shot. Once the story is written it goes into “development.” This is when a Producer and Development Executives work with the Writer to get the story in rock solid shape, making sure the story works and will translate to screen. When a Director is attached, she will also get a chance to make changes to the script. This is the first job of a Director – making the story better (yes, it can always get better). A Director is usually hired because she has a sensibility – a particular perspective that will bring the script to life, so it might not always be the case, but often a Director will have a chance to give notes to the Writer and help them shape the story for success. It is not the Director’s job to rewrite the script, but it is the Director’s job to give feedback that will help the script translate visually on screen and have the right emotional impact. Sometimes a Director will be asked to “make a pass” on the script, in which case the Director does, indeed, rewrite the script.
If you watch a film you will notice that colors of the sets and the wardrobe are calculated. What are the colors saying about the environment or the wardrobe? Are they drab and depressing or are they vibrant and exciting? It all depends on the story the Director is trying to tell.
How a Director Works With Casting
A large part of a Director’s job is finding the right Actors, which involves working with the Producer and a Casting Director to find the talent. The Producer and the Casting Director will present choices to the Director and the Director will participate in auditions to decide who they want to see again so they can make sure the Actor is right for the role. Though an Actor is hired because of what he or she brings to the table, during production, the most important role a Director has is to work with the Actors, who are sometimes there for a only few days, to make sure they have everything they need to strike the right tone and find the comedic and emotional beats in their performance.
How a Director Works With Production Design
An important part of a Director’s vision is production design. This is establishing the world in which the story takes place. It can be as simple as decorating a kitchen to creating a futuristic world that is a product of the Director’s imagination. The Director will work with the Production Designer to find a location and decorate it or build a set from scratch to create an environment that enhances the words on the page. If the script calls for a dated 1970s kitchen, the Director will work with the Production Designer to decide what that means – is it a fancy kitchen from the ’70s or is it a working-class kitchen from the ’70s? What will the colors be? What will the space say about the characters? Are the dishes tidy and lined up on the drying rack or are they piled up dirty in the sink? These are all the details that a Director will mull over with the Production Designer, down to the hair on a comb. They will also discuss the color palette. If you watch a film you will notice that the colors of the sets and the wardrobe are calculated. What are the colors saying about the environment or the wardrobe? Are they drab and depressing or are they vibrant and exciting? It all depends on the story the Director is trying to tell. Production design usually will entail some sort of visual effects (VFX), so a VFX Coordinator is often brought into the conversation.
How a Director Works With Wardrobe
Wardrobe is another product of the Director’s imagination and is in some ways an extension of production design. In fact, the two departments work closely together. First, we establish the world in which these characters live and interact then we decide how they are dressed. In some cases, costumes must be designed and made, and other times they are purchased. Whatever the case may be, the Director works with the Costume Designer to decide what clothes the character wears from scene to scene and why. A single mom may be dressed in a shirt that looks like it has been worn a million times, while an uptown gal might have freshly pressed clothes that look like they came right off the rack. A Director and a Costume Designer work together to make sure the clothing is consistent with a character and tells a visual story about who this person is and what is going on in the story.
How a Director Works With the Camera Department
Next up is the Camera Department. Once a Director establishes what is to be shot, the next order of business is to decide how the film will be shot — will it be shiny and slick or dark and depressing? Though a Director is not expected to know which lens to use, how to light a shot, or all the ins and outs of the camera, a Director does decide how things are shot and what coverage to get to achieve the overall look of the film. It can be handheld or it can be very still with limited movement. It can be bright and sunny or it can be muted and serious. This is all a part of the Director’s vision. The Director will also create a shot list or make storyboards to help the Cinematographer understand what pieces they will need to shoot. Where the camera is placed and how the shots are framed may be a collaborative effort between the Director and the Director of Photography (Cinematographer) but ultimately, it is the Director’s call.
It’s the Director’s job to see, in the moment, what is working and what isn’t working, and to find a way to make it work. But as much as a film is a result of the Director’s vision, very much of directing is communicating.
How a Director Works With the Editorial Department
Once the film is in the can, as they say, the Editor will have a go at cutting it together. Ideally, the Editor is working through production, to make sure that what the Director is getting is cutting together and informing her if she needs any pickups or coverage that would make things better. The Director will consult with the Editor throughout the process and hopefully have time to see cuts along the way. Once the shooting is done, the Director will sit with the Editor to get the film polished and tight. This usually involves going over the footage to find the best performance from the Actors and finding the rhythm and pace of the film and making sure all the setups pay off.
How a Director Works With the Post-Production Process
Once the edit is finished, there is still work to be done! When the picture is locked and everyone is happy with it, it still needs to go through post-production. The edit gets handed off to the Post-production Sound Department and Colorist for all the fine-tuning. If the movie has VFX of any kind, they, too start working. While this is happening, the Director works with a Composer to score the picture, going through the movie beat-by-beat to decide where music will go and why, and what the tone should be. Once the music is finalized, the music goes to the Sound Mixer who works with the Director to tell the sonic story of the movie and balance all the dialog, music, and effects. Once the sound is mixed, the Director sits with a Colorist to fine tune the look of the film. And in between all of that, she is approving VFX shots, which get melded into the final product.
There is a reason a Director gets all the accolades in the wake of a successful film. Having a vision is one thing, executing it is another. A Director must have an answer to every question, and over the course of the production, a Director makes countless decisions, answering questions from all departments. If a set looks fake or cheap, or if an Actor’s performance is cheesy or melodramatic, it falls on the Director. It’s the Director’s job to see, in the moment, what is working and what isn’t working, and to find a way to make it work. But as much as a film is a result of the Director’s vision, very much of directing is communicating. A good Director will choose her department heads based on their talent and vision, so more often than not it’s about “being on the same page” rather than telling someone what to do.
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Love the look of vintage glass? Burbank Rental House ‘Old Fast Glass’ has a massive collection of rare lenses that you can use for your next project.
Old Fast Glass is a rental house based out of Burbank that provides an array of cameras and other filmmaking accessories, but they specialize in old, fast, vintage lenses.
We talk with Mark Lafleur of Old Fast Glass about the funky aesthetic, importance, and the company’s passion for vintage lenses.
Don’t know much about vintage lenses? Check out their lens tests which can help you find the right thing for your project. They’ll even let you test anything you want in the store using their equipment. So get ready for your shoot and find a unique look for your next project.
Check out the rental catalog over at Old Fast Glass here!
Atomos has just announced that the Neon cinema series of monitor-recorders announced at Cine Gear 2019 can be upgraded to record 8K video up to 60 fps in both ProRes & ProRes RAW. We are blown away by the 8K ProRes RAW video recorded with the new Neon Cinema Series monitor-recorder. The detail is incredible, … Continued
Phillip Youmans wrote, directed, and shot “Burning Cane”, his Tribeca-winning debut feature.
Phillip Youmans was 16 years old when he became obsessed with the prospect of making a feature film. He was a junior in high school at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), where he had just written a short screenplay for a school assignment. But the young director’s teacher thought the script, about Youmans’s experiences growing up in a Southern black Baptist community, had bigger potential. He encouraged his student to write a feature version of the story.
Photographers can be both nostalgic and habitual, finding a piece of gear they really love and sticking with it for a long time. Most of us have some piece of gear we love and won’t ever part with. This one is mine.
Vazen, a Chinese optics manufacturer, is set to launch a trio of anamorphic lenses for Micro Four Thirds cameras. Showing at the Cine Gear Expo and spotted by Newsshooter, the company will be offering 28mm, 40mm and 65mm focal lengths with a 1.8x anamorphic effect.
The lens on show at Cine Gear is a 40mm T2 that will be shipping at the end of this month. When used on Micro Four Thirds cameras, such as the Lumix GH5/s, Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera or Z-cam E2, it will produce 2.39:1 aspect ratio images. Vazen claims the lenses will provide ‘buttery smooth oval bokeh, signature blue horizontal flare and the widescreen cinematic look’ as well as a minimum focus distance of 0.82m (2.7ft) for the 40mm example. The focus and aperture rings are fitted with gears and the front filter thread measures 110mm.
Below is sample footage captured with the 40mm T2 lens:
The 40mm version weighs 1.8kg (3.97lbs), is 110mm x 175mm (4.33in x 6.89in), and will cost $3,250. Users will have to wait until much later in the year for the 28mm and 65mm models. For more information see the Vazen website.
It’s been a long time coming and today Apple finally unveiled the all-new Mac Pro and yes it’s a tower, not a trash can. Here is what we know and it looks to be a beast. With the all-new tower design, the new Mac Pro is very upgradable with eight PCI express slots. Two MPX … Continued
The Set Simulator v2 is part trainer, part pre-pro planner for filmmakers that functions like an interactive VR video game simulation.
Learning to shoot on the fly is not easy and neither is being a cinematographer and jumping into terrain without practice. Enter the Set Simulator, an interactive VR experience that allows you to control cameras, explore environments, edit moves, and more within the comfort of your production office.
Set Simulator allows you to train people on wheels, advanced levels, and experience different live television settings to hone your skills. You can practice in real-life environments with camera setups of your choosing. You can map out a chase scene, a conversation in Times Square, or practice filming a live event like the Super Bowl.
Some of the aspects you can control are the place, time of day, weather, lens package, size of the sensor, technocranes, light output, focal length, lighting, and shadow features. The wheels directly interface with your cameras and give you a simulation of a live broadcast or the setup of what you want to film.
Today, at its World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) 2019, Apple unveiled a collection of new photo-oriented features and tools inside its upcoming iOS 13 and macOS operating systems, as well as its new iPadOS, a spin-off of iOS designed specifically to utilize the larger, more powerful tablets from Apple.
Below we’ve rounded up and summarized the best photo-related features from each of the three operating systems. Additional details will be added over time as we gather more information and details.
The main feature changes in iOS 13 are new and improved features inside the Camera and Photos applications.
On the Camera app front, Apple has added a new Portrait Mode setting it calls High Key Mono. As its name suggests, the new AI-powered filter will create a high key black and white image that was captured with the Portrait Mode in the Camera app.
A collection of Portrait Mode images showing the five different lighting filters available.
Also new to Portrait Mode is the ability to adjust the intensity of the lighting. Apple says its new feature is designed to simulate the light source moving closer or further away from the subject and even accounts for the higher intensity light being softer, as would be the case with a physical light source. And like before, each adjustment is made individually to images using AI to achieve the most accurate results.
Screenshots provided by Apple showing the ‘Years,’ ‘Months’ and ‘Days’ tabs, respectively.
Moving onto the Photos app on iOS, Apple has switched up the interface a little to add a new tab at the bottom that will automatically sort images into ‘Years,’ ‘Months,’ ‘Days’ and ‘All Photos.’ In addition to the new ‘Pinch’ gesture that can be used to zoom in and out of large numbers of photos, these tabs make it easier to chronological sort through images and the tabs are even contextual, so if, say, it’s your child’s birthday and their information is in your phone, the ‘Year’ tab will show photos of your child on the thumbnails of each year.
Another UI change in the Photos app is in the photo editing section. The interface now uses buttons, akin to what you see in Instagram and other third-party photo editing applications. Apple has also added the ability to edit video directly in the Photos app, just as you would photos. Now, videos can be rotated, adjusted and have filters added to them just as you would with a still image.
You can read more about iOS 13 on Apple’s dedicated preview page.
You might’ve noticed the lack of any mention of the iPad. That’s because Apple has finally given the iPad an operating system of its own, iPadOS. Unsurprisingly, the operating system is effectively a more powerful version of iOS, complete with a number of features photographers around the world have been asking for.
First up is support for external drives. Now, the Files app supports browsing, editing, sorting and transferring content from hard drives, solid state drives, USB drives, SD cards and even direct import from cameras. We haven’t found any additional details, but Apple CEO Tim Cook specifically mentioned the ability to import images directly into Lightroom CC from an SD card or connected camera, bypassing the need to first import images into your Camera Roll.
The first iteration of iPadOS also brings the aforementioned changes found in the iOS 13 version of the Camera and Photos apps.
Apple has also managed to further decrease the response time when using the Apple Pencil with an iPad. Apple already leads the industry with a 20ms response time, but in iPadOS that’s been further reduced to 9ms, thanks to improved algorithms.
You can read more about iPadOS on Apple’s dedicated preview page.
The newest version of Apple’s desktop operating system, macOS, has strayed from the desert theme and has officially been deemed macOS Catalina. Of all the changes, one change, in particular, stands out for photographers—Sidecar.
Until now, it’s required third-party hardware and software to use your iPad as a secondary display for your macOS computer. Now, the functionality is baked directly into macOS Catalina via Sidecar.
Sidecar works both wired and wirelessly, and supports the Apple Pencil, effectively turning your iPad into a dedicated drawing tablet that’s connected directly to your macOS computer. Sidecar will support gesture inputs and will display various Touch Bar functions on the bottom of the iPad display, even if you don’t have the Touch Bar MacBook Pro.
Apple has shared a list of supported apps, which include Affinity Photo, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premiere Pro, Cinema 4D, Final Cut Pro, Maya and others. However, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, Capture One and other photo-related apps are noticeably absent from the list for the time being.
A list of apps Apple has specifically mentioned as supported by Sidecar for the time being.
By adding this functionality, Apple has more or less pulled the rug out from underneath third-party software and hardware options including Astropad and Duet Display. However, until iPadOS and macOS Catalina are available for public use, third-party options are the only means of using your iPad as a secondary display.
You can read more about macOS Catalina on Apple’s dedicated preview page.
Quentin Tarantino always offers some interesting insight into his inspirations and process.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood had its premiere this month at Cannes, reportedly drawing a six-minute standing ovation. The movie apparently has some big twists that Tarantino does not want spoiled.
In one of the best interviews with the director we’ve ever seen, Augustin Trapenard of CANAL+ sat down with Tarantino during the film festival and asked him questions about his inspirations, cinematic process, and philosophy that left him speechless…multiple times.
Watch the fantastic (spoiler-free) interview below.
Nostalgia can drive you
Tarantino was six years old in the late 60s, when the film is set, and he says he purposefully included a lot of the sights and feels of the Los Angeles that he knew.
This nostalgia not only lends authenticity but it can play across generations. I know I light up seeing the Cinerama Dome in the trailer, as it probably was then, before the Arclight Hollywood incorporated it.
It’s been more than three years since Canon first released their flagship camera the EOS-1D X Mark II. Since then, plenty of other cameras have been released, new flagship models from other manufacturers and even a whole new mount. Three years is a long tie in the world of technology so how does the current Canon flagship camera hold up to today’s standards?
The new Mac Pro is being called a “breakthrough workstation for pros.”
Apple has just unveiled the brand-new Mac Pro that features a completely overhauled design, a massive 32-inch Retina 6K display, and internal specs that will certainly pique the interest of pros.
Apple took an interesting approach to the new Mac Pro’s design. Its modular system sets the table for those looking to expand and configure it in whichever way best serves the work they do. The aluminum housing can be easily removed from the stainless-steel space frame with a quick twist of a handle located on the top of the tower to give users full 360-degree access to the system. This handle also makes moving the tower super easy.
Furthermore, for those who want to rack mount their machine in edit bays, Apple will be coming out with an optimized version for rack deployment this fall.