After the massive success of the Kickstarter campaign for their SMOOTH-Q2 smartphone gimbal, Zhiyun is back with a new gimbal for DSLR and Mirrorless cameras: the Zhiyun Weebill-S. This compact and robust handheld gimbal is a follow-up to the previous Weebill LAB that was announced at Photokina 2018. Let’s take a closer look at it!
Zhiyun Weebill-S Design
Zhiyun has just announced their new handheld gimbal for mirrorless and DSLR cameras: the Zhiyun Weebill-S. This fresh stabilizer is a follow-up to the previous Weebill LAB, but it is not a replacement. Overall, the one-of-his-kind design is similar between the two. If it works, don’t fix it.
Image credit: Zhiyun
You can mount the included tripod – that double as a handle – in “normal” mode under the gimbal. That way, you can operate the Weebill-S like any other one-hand-gimbal. But, the neat feature is that you can also mount the tripod horizontally as a handgrip. In that position, it makes it easier to operate the gimbal in underslung mode and get low-to-the-ground shots.
The Zhiyun Weebill-S is also pretty compact, with a total height of just 297mm. It is powered by two 18650 interchangeable batteries, for a runtime of up-to 14-hours according to Zhiyun.
Image credit: Zhiyun
One thing that I like in the design of the Zhiyun Weebill-S is the locking switches on every axis. There is one dedicated switch on the Pan, Tilt and Roll axis.
These locks are helpful for transport purposes, so your gimbal doesn’t go in every direction in your bag without you noticing. Also, for balancing goals, you can adjust each axis at a time by locking the other two. These are the small design features that make your life easier and your job quicker.
Image credit: Zhiyun
But what’s new with the Zhiyun Weebill-S compared to the previous generations?
Zhiyun Weebill-S Features
The Zhiyun Weebill-S features new motors with a 300% improvement in motor torque and a 50% increase in responsiveness, according to Zhiyun. In short, it means that you can now mount and balance more massive setups like a Sony A7III + FE 24-70mm F/2.8 and Canon 5D4 + EF 24-70mm F/2.8.
The quick-release plate to mount your camera is now Manfrotto and Arca-Swiss compatible. Otherwise, there is no word from Zhiyun regarding the maximum payload the Weebill-S can take at the moment.
Image credit: Zhiyun
A new intelligent auto-tune feature should provide more stable and flawless stabilization results. Indeed, the Weebill-S can now automatically recognize the setup weight and auto-tune its power to adapt the camera setup best.
Image credit: Zhiyun
Zhiyun wholly redesigned the image transmission module. The new TransMount Image Transmission Module can be directly mounted under the quick release plate.
The features of the TransMount module are quite impressive: 1080P transmission at up to 30 frames per second, a 100-meter range, and a range of tools such as LUT/false color/focus peaking/zebra. Also, you can use the TransMount for live streaming purposes, but you can also connect up to three devices at the same time.
Image credit: Zhiyun
Zhiyun Weebill-S Control Features
The TransMount Image Transmission Module gives you access to the ViaTouch 2.0 eco-system. In short, ViaTouch turns your smartphone into a monitor and remote controller. If your camera is compatible, you can control/record/adjust the camera parameters through ViaTouch 2.0. For a complete list of the compatible cameras, please look at the Zhiyun’s inventory on their website here.
Image credit: Zhiyun
With your smartphone attached to the Weebill-S, you can use SmartFollow 2.0 to track an object or person in your shot automatically. Finally, with the Sync Motion functionality, you can use your smartphone with the Zhiyun app to control the gimbal, like the Freefly Mimic, for example.
Image credit: Zhiyun
On the gimbal itself, there is a control wheel on the side of the bottom handle. You can use that wheel to control your focus electronically without the need for an additional follow-focus (if your camera is supported). But the control wheel can also pilot the Zhiyun TransMount Servo Zoom/Focus Controller (sold as an accessory).
Image credit: Zhiyun
Finally, six creative shooting modes are available: full range POV mode, Vortex mode, GO mode, PF mode, F mode, and L mode.
Pricing and Availability
The Zhiyun Weebill-S retails for $439/351€. Shipping should begin at the end of October. The TransMount Max Servo Zoom/Focus Controller retails for $89/85€.
Several packages are available; there is a Zoom & Focus Pro Package that includes the Weebill-S and the follow focus for $519/426€. Another Image Transmission Pro Kit that consists of the Weebill-S, follow focus, and Image Transmission Module is $679/521€.
What do you think of the Zhiyun Weebill-S? Do you think it is a direct competitor to the Ronin-S/SC? Let us know in the comments!
Syrp published a food commercial tutorial which was made possible using their motion control gear. A filmmaker Chase Madsen breaks down the whole process of this one-shot project where using Syrp gear created a more affordable motion-controlled rig.
Food commercial tutorial from Syrp.
Syrp, now part of the Vitec Group, is a camera accessories manufacturer based in New Zealand. It has been on the market for many years now and I think most filmmakers are familiar with their motion control devices. One of the latest additions to their product portfolio is the tiny motion controller Syrp Genie Mini II. It seems Syrp is also doing the promotion right. They recently published an interesting food commercial tutorial that using their products provided a more affordable alternative.
Food commercial tutorial – the result. Image credit: Syrp
Shooting Food Commercial with Syrp Motion Controllers
The plan was to shoot a similar one-shot commercial using Syrp gear instead of a custom-built and programmed robot, which would be much more expensive. For the product, they chose fluffy pancakes – three of them will come together in a single movement while being poured over with maple syrup.
The setup consisted solely of a couple of Syrp motion controllers. They used two vertically placed Syrp Magic carpet sliders on both sides. These were equipped with Genie II Linears for the up and down movement. Furthermore, there were two Genie Mini II controllers for the rotating movement. Last but not least, there was one more Genie Mini II to provide a spinning movement for the middle pancake.
Food commercial tutorial – the setup plan. Image credit: Syrp
In the video tutorial Chase Madsen and his team also talked about the light setup, which in this case consisted of three Litepanels Sola 6+ and one Manfrotto Lykos LED panel – all paired with diffusions. All three pancakes were reinforced by cardboard pieces and held in the air by aluminium wires. These wires were then attached to Syrp Genie Mini II controllers via standard 1/4″ screw.
Food commercial tutorial – the shoot. Image credit: Syrp
In the end, Matthijs Blok, who was in charge of the post-production, talked about the whole process of removing the aluminium wires from the shot and other challenges he was facing in this food commercial project. He also mentioned how important is the right color grading when it comes to food commercials. While he used Nuke for this project, it would also be possible with other software, like Adobe After Effects, possibly also DaVinci Fusion.
Food commercial tutorial – the post-production process. Image credit: Syrp
What do you think of this Syrp video tutorial? Would you be happy to see more gear manufacturers doing such tutorials? Let us know in the comments underneath the article.
On this weeks Go Creative Show podcast, cinematographer Richard Rutkowski ASC talks about shooting The Americans and Castle Rock. Richard and Go Creative Show host, Ben Consoli, discuss what inspired the series look, the cameras and lens used on Castle Rock, the most challenging scenes and what you can expect from season 2, plus his … Continued
Nila has a factory outlet birthday sale where you can pick up Boxer LED Kits at big discounts. Up to the 25th of October, or while supplies last, you can pick up Boxer Deluxe Kits at 50% OFF MSRP with free FedEx Ground shipping at the Nila Outlet Store. A Boxer (version 2) Deluxe Kit … Continued
If you have been looking for a simple solution to attach a V-mount battery to a light stand then the CAME-TV V-Mount Clamp looks to be a good solution. The CAME-TV V-Mount Clamp can be mounted to a light stand or a tripod via the clamp. Now just to be clear, this isn’t a power … Continued
Aputure has released a new firmware update for the LS C300d II v.04 which improves a number of features. Check out our full review of the light by Erik below. This firmware update for the 300d II improves several features like: Optimizes the Bluetooth Reset Function. In the previous firmware, if a user initiated a … Continued
We can’t talk about Fight Club. First two rules and all that. But we can discuss at length how great this movie’s special edition is, and how well it still holds up for filmmakers.
They don’t make movies like Fight Club anymore. Or DVDs like its special edition, for that matter.
20 years ago today, David Fincher solidified himself as the director for a generation of aspiring filmmakers who hung Tyler Durden posters on their walls or wore his quotable dialogue on their wrinkly T-shirts. Fincher, with the release of Flight Club‘s two-disc special edition DVD, also positioned himself as a pioneer of the format at a time when it was at its peak (thanks to robust sales). Fincher’s Seven and Fight Club are among the best special editions ever made, as Fincher extended his taskmasker rep (and love for film and the filmmaking process) to the home entertainment experience. He wanted to bring fans of the film as close to the making of it as possible; almost like an interactive museum tour of the film’s development stages — from pre-production to marketing.
The Art of the Cut podcast brings the fantastic conversations that Steve Hullfish has with world renowned editors into your car, living room, editing suite and beyond. In each episode, Steve talks with editors ranging from emerging stars to Oscar and Emmy winners. Hear from the top editors of today about their careers, editing workflows and about their work on some of the biggest films and TV shows of the year.
This week Steve spoke with Tim Squyres, ACE about editing the latest Will Smith film, “Gemini Man”. Tim has had a long career in the industry having edited all but one of director Ang Lee’s films. Tim has been nominated for an Academy Award twice in his career, first for “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and more recently for “Life of Pi”.You can listen to the full episode below:
This weeks episode of the Art of the Cut Podcast is brought to you by LaCie. As one of the leading media storage companies in the entertainment industry, LaCie consistently brings innovative ideas to the market. Make sure to listen to the above interview for a special offer from LaCie when you shop on Filmtools.com!
How many of you folks out there have actually seen an owl in the wild? If you’ve ever wondered what photographing them must be like, this video will take you through an evening in pursuit of owls in the Tetons.
Two teen girls lust for each other in post-Dust Bowl Oklahoma. A pregnant writer visits her parents in China and confronts her father’s closeted homosexuality. A Filipina punk-rocker is sent from Manila to the countryside and falls in love while attending an all-girls Catholic school. A meek farmhand and a police officer become lovers despite the oppressive anti-gay legislation in rural Siberia. A trans TSA agent grapples with the prospect of de-transitioning in the face of ostracization. These varied narratives account for a mere fraction of the films that will screen at the 31st annual NewFest, also known as New […]
A new photography challenge has spread across the internet over the past month. This Tetris challenge consists of taking pictures from above of first responders and military vehicles. Here are some of the best shots.
In late September 2019, I joined up with three other wildlife and landscape photographers to take on Jackson Hole, Wyoming for a few days surrounding the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) WildSpeak West symposium. In this video I review my best images taken with my new gear from this short but productive three-day trip to the Tetons.
Tim Squyres, ACE, has been nominated for multiple Oscars and ACE Eddies and BAFTAs for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Gosford Park and Life of Pi. His filmography also includes Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk; Unbroken; Lust, Caution; Hulk; Sense and Sensibility; Eat, Drink, Man, Woman; and many more including TV work on the pilots of Nurse Jackie, Now and Again and Medium.
For this interview, we discussed a wide range of topics and films but focused on Gemini Man. Squyres has been a long-time collaborator of director Ang Lee.
HULLFISH: Tell me about your collaborative relationship with your director, Ang Lee.
SQUYRES: We respect each other’s opinions a lot and have managed to find a way to work together that’s really productive. Ang once said — talking about me somewhere — that it was great because we disagree all the time. Of course we don’t disagree all the time. We agree ninety-five percent of the time, it’s just the last 5 percent is what we spend our time talking about because things that we agree about we don’t need to be addressing every day. It’s just a collaboration that’s worked out. I think we’re similar in a lot of ways but different enough to keep it interesting and productive.
HULLFISH: How do you collaborate? Are you a show-and-tell kind of guy? You talked about disagreeing. Do you have longer discussions? What’s the way that you guys hash things out?
SQUYRES: We talk a lot in preproduction, but during production on most movies we hardly talk at all. I get the footage, but I get virtually no indication of what to do with it. If he had a plan, he doesn’t share it with me. So I’m left to figure it out myself. I send him back two or three versions of everything. And generally, I don’t hear anything back. If he thinks he got the scene covered — based on what I show him and based on what he thought on the day — if he feels he got everything he needs, he’s better off spending his time thinking about what he’s shooting tomorrow rather than what he shot yesterday.
So the assembly I generally do in a vacuum — which is fine with me. I’m used to it, so I don’t need feedback. On big visual effects films like Life of Pi and Gemini Man, I’m more closely involved. I was actually in Budapest for a couple of months on Gemini Man with the shoot. But even so, he doesn’t give me many notes. It’s just that sometimes in visual effects, you have to get ahead of things — start turning things over because they need a long lead time.
Once production is finished, then he comes in and sits with me all day and we just go through it. And usually I’ve prepared multiple versions of everything. There’s a single version of the film that we start with but — saved separately — I’ve got all kinds of alternatives and we just go through those and work our way through it. We’ve gotten to be quite efficient at it because we’ve done it enough and we know how to work together and bang through it.
He is not someone who gets lost in it and says, “Let’s look at everything again.” We don’t do that. We’re able to stick to the plan and push ahead based on the preparation work that I’ve done.
HULLFISH: It’s interesting that you do multiple versions of the scenes. Obviously, there are lots of editors who will say they do that for some scenes, but it sounds like you do virtually every scene.
SQUYRES: Yeah. I do it for every scene. I never cut a scene once. Working with other directors, sometimes I get told that there’s a specific plan for the scene — and even then I’ll do that plan, but also do something else. I’ll first do my own thing with the footage and then look and see what the plan was and see if I’ve already done it. Usually, I’ve come pretty close already. I think your job as editor during the assembly is to explore what’s possible with the footage. Sometimes — based on performance — there can be the angry version or the sad version. Sometimes the alternates are based on coverage. But then sometimes on a big complex action scene with a lot of coverage, I’ll just do it again. I’ve spent all day on a version that I like. “Great. Now do it again.”
The way that I assemble is I’ll go through the dailies and I’ll wind up with a sequence of pulls — things that I like — which are the pieces that I might build the scene out of, which is at least one line reading from each setup. The best line reading from the medium shot, the best line reading from the close up or maybe two or three from each, if there are good ones, and so I have that pull sequence and I’ll duplicate it, take version 1 and put it on the end with dupe detection on, so I can see what I’ve used before, and then do it again, trying not to use those pieces, or at least not cut in the same way.
HULLFISH: A lot of times I’ve cut a scene once and when I go to cut it a second time, I’ll try to force myself to think differently, but there are certain points where the edits match. It’s really interesting that you use dupe detection to keep yourself from doing that.
SQUYRES: Sometimes there’s a particular cut that’s just obvious. You kind of have to make it. I’ll try something else, but generally, version two — hopefully — won’t contain any of the same footage as version one. It depends on the scene.
I really think my job is to try what’s there. Another thing that I do — I started doing this back on The Ice Storm — is if I have, for example, a simple dialogue scene between two people, and I have medium shots and closeups — the first thing I do is cut the whole scene just in medium shots and then cut the whole scene again just in the closeups. And I won’t use the master at all in either of them. Then I’ll look at those cuts and then decide when to be wide and when to be close based on having done it and seeing what works, not on what I thought was going to work. The other good thing about that is when you’ve done a section in the close-ups and the director says, “Oh, I really thought we’d be in the medium shots for that,” it’s already done. I don’t have to sit there and do it. So it’s a big time saver. Of course, it takes more time during the assembly, but it saves a ton of time later.
HULLFISH: I don’t know whether you’ve heard him say this — I swear this is an Ang Lee quote — that “Shooting is like grocery shopping but the real cooking is in the cutting room.”
HULLFISH: That must make you feel good.
SQUYRES: Yeah. It’s a lot more comfortable in the kitchen than it is wandering around the grocery store.
I’m happy to be working with a director who feels that way: that what you’re doing in the editing room is not just executing the plan and putting the ends of the shots together and it’s done. What you’re doing in the editing room is very fundamentally telling the story.
HULLFISH: And you said it he’s usually in the cutting room with you. That’s a little unusual. There are other directors certainly that do that, but he’s always there? He’s not just wandering in giving you some notes.
SQUYRES: No. He’s there most of the time. He’s not there as many hours as I am, but he puts in a full day for months on end. I don’t think he knows that he doesn’t have to.
HULLFISH: You mentioned that you’ve got two — sometimes three — versions of a scene, but of course when you cut them together into an assembly you’ve got to pick your favorite I’m assuming. Do you always show him every version or is it only when you go through the assembly and it seems like he may need to see another version?
SQUYRES: I show him alternate versions while shooting, but not necessarily all of them.
HULLFISH: Yes. But you said you never receive feedback from that.
SQUYRES: I only hear something back if there’s a problem or if I think there’s a problem. That’s part of my job too. If I get the footage and I think there’s a problem, I have to let him know.
If I have three versions of a scene — the beauty of features is it’s a long shoot — so I’ll have three versions of scene 41, and a month later we shoot scene 42 and two days later we shoot scene 40. At some point, I’ll go back and look at the versions I have of each and go through and from those, build out what goes into the assembly. And it’s not always that I take an existing version of scene 41. I’ll take bits and pieces out of all of them and sometimes try other new things too.
Then I’ll save the alternates and mark what’s different or what’s interesting about them for easy reference later. Maybe halfway through the shoot or two-thirds of the way through the shoot — in addition to cutting the new day’s dailies — I’ll start going back to the old scenes and building out what will become the assembly cut.
Then we do a pretty thorough sound job and music and the works. So when we sit down watch the assembly, it looks like the movie. Well, it looks like A movie. It doesn’t look like the movie as it’s going to wind up because I haven’t dropped any lines or rearranged any scenes. You try to make everything work the way it was scripted. That way you can feel confident dropping it later. You’ve got to try to make the scene work before you drop it. It’s very rare that I drop a scene before we screen the assembly, and then we discuss it first.
HULLFISH: You mentioned how you put the assembly together as it’s scripted. I’ve talked to multiple editors that say the same thing: “I always put it together the way it’s scripted” But there are other editors that say, “No. If I think I can get into a scene later then I’ll just drop the first four or five lines.” Are you doing that? Or are you doing it in other versions?
SQUYRES: Sometimes in other versions, I do some trimming. But no, we do that later. I really try to make everything work as intended in the script so that you watch it in context and THEN you can say, “We can drop that.”
In television — where you’re on a really tight schedule — maybe sometimes you have to do that, but I’d prefer to leave it as written and then watch the whole thing and then sometimes those cuts or rearrangements become obvious.
HULLFISH: Sure. You mentioned television. You’ve done a couple of TV pilots but it looks like you don’t usually continue past the pilot.
SQUYRES: That’s correct. The only series I’ve done past the pilot was a show called Now and Again that ran for one season, and I cut the pilot and the first half of the season. And I was doing that while I was assembling Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. So I was busy that fall! Then I left to go finish Crouching Tiger. That’s the only series work I’ve done.
HULLFISH: So you’ve clearly got your hands full with feature work. Why do you do these pilots?
SQUYRES: I’ve done three pilots for Glenn Gordon Caron, who did Moonlighting many years ago, and then he did Now and Again and Medium, for which I cut the pilot, and then directed an episode in Season 2.
It fit in the schedule. I like working with Glenn. I also did the pilot for Nurse Jackie. The director of that was Allen Coulter, who I had worked with on a film called Hollywoodland. Allen asked me to do it and I like working with Allen and it fit in the schedule. When it works it’s kind of a fun thing to do. Series television can be a grind, but with pilots, nothing is established yet, so you’re not tied into a certain look and a certain rhythm. It’s a chance to meet somebody new and do something different.
HULLFISH: You mentioned directing. Is that something that you started since you’ve been editing? And was it something that — as you watched great directing happen around you — you felt like you could do it?
SQUYRES: A long time ago — back when I was in my 20s — I did a bunch of directing before I moved to New York. Just local stuff. Nothing big. Student films, local TV and stuff. When I came here, I fell into editing and really liked it, but I have opinions and I have ideas and I raised the possibility of directing one with Glenn and he said, “Sure.”
I’ve directed a couple of episodes. Editing is interesting preparation for directing because you learn a lot about where to put the camera, how to pace things. You learn absolutely nothing about what to say to an actor to get them to do what you want them to do. That’s the part I was worried about. So I came in with full shot lists. Everything planned. In terms of the set running smoothly, it was great. No problems at all. It felt very natural. Sometimes talking to the actors was a little tricky. And even some of the crew. As an editor, you’re not in charge of a lot of people. You’re in your room with your director, you have your staff, and that’s usually about it. So it’s an interesting transition.
There are a lot of editors who have directed once. In my case, I’ve directed twice. I thought about pursuing it but the thing is — if you’re going to direct for television you have to get yourself into that world and have those connections. I’ve done some commercials — edited a bunch of commercials — but that’s also all about connections and being tied into that. Then I go do a feature and disappear for a year and lose all of it. So at some point, it seemed like if I was going to pursue directing as a career I would have to turn my back on editing, and on editing with Ang, and that didn’t seem like a good idea.
HULLFISH: You mentioned that you do a lot in preproduction. What are you doing in preproduction?
SQUYRES: Depends on the movie.
HULLFISH: Let’s talk about this one.
SQUYRES: First of all, I get every draft of the script and give notes on it. Now, in this case, on a film like Gemini Man, there were a lot of chefs in the kitchen. First of all, the script had been around for 20 years in various versions. Ours was a substantial rewrite. Then there’s Paramount and Skydance. It’s not like Ang and I can just come up with a script we like. For Gemini Man, there was actually a lot less pre-production work for me than with Life of Pi. There were a couple of extended action sequences that we prevised and I had a lot of input in those, but not nearly as much as on Life of Pi.
Generally, with Ang’s films, I’m involved in the script development on one level or another. On Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, I was getting terrible translations and I didn’t understand the movie at all. I gave notes on the script but I told him they weren’t really relevant. I wouldn’t have taken that movie if it hadn’t been Ang doing it, because the English script made no sense at all. But that was because of bad translations.
HULLFISH: Can you tell me about dealing with the language barrier on editing some of these Ang Lee movies? Were you cutting in Mandarin or Cantonese or something?
SQUYRES: The films are in Mandarin and I don’t speak Mandarin. So that’s a complication. The Wedding Banquet was written in English — well, it was written in Chinese but it’s a good translation. Eat, Drink, Man, Woman was written in Chinese and the script translation was OK. The dailies are just the dailies. They just come in Mandarin and I have to figure it out.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was written and developed entirely in Chinese. There were English translations done, but they were terrible. Same with Lust, Caution. Those translations were very bad, so that complicates things a little bit.
Cantonese and Mandarin are spoken completely differently, but written the same. On Crouching Tiger, Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun-Fat spoke to each other in Cantonese, but Chow Yun-Fat spoke to Ang in Mandarin and Ang spoke to Michelle Yeoh in English. It was very complicated on set because Ang doesn’t speak Cantonese.
The film is in Mandarin, so Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh were both speaking Mandarin, but neither of them is really fluent at it. They’re both native Cantonese speakers. Then Zhang Ziyi is a Mandarin speaker. She didn’t speak English or Cantonese.
Anyway, back to the preproduction question: on Life of Pi, as far as the script, we were much more independent. It was really just our writer, David Magee, and Ang, and me consulting. But the movie was going to be shot in native 3D in a wave tank with visual effects — ocean and tiger. All of those things are hard, and were going to limit the amount of coverage we’d be able to get. Sometimes the way you shoot a movie is that you just go and get a whole bunch of coverage and figure it out later. We knew we weren’t going to be able to do that. We really had to go in with a visual effects plan that was going to work.
Because of those limitations we decided to do previs for a substantial amount of the film. From the shipwreck to him leaving the island. That’s over an hour of previs. The original idea was just so that we could make sure we had a visual effects plan that was going to work and everybody could show up on set with an understanding of what we were doing.
But when you give creative people something creative to do and they get ideas. And what happened is: while we were working on the previs, we would get ideas for things that would then go back into the script. And the writer would get ideas for things that would come back into the previs and it was this really interesting parallel development — because it’s a film that’s not really strongly plot-driven, not strongly dialogue-driven. So we’d just say, “Oh why don’t we have the whale do this?” which we would figure out during the previs and then we would tell the writer and he would work it in and then he’d have ideas and would send him back to us.
So that previs process was really interesting. It was also part of getting the film greenlit. Fox, understandably, was very reluctant to greenlight that movie. It took them a long time to come around, so this hour of previs that we did had a full sound job. Sound effects, music, the whole thing — which I did just to make it look interesting and help to really sell it.
HULLFISH: So the previs got paid for and edited before the film was greenlit?
SQUYRES: Yeah. It was part of selling it, but it was also part of convincing them and also convincing ourselves that this is going to be doable.
HULLFISH: Then did you have to edit very close to the previs because that’s what you were going to end up getting as VFX deliveries?
SQUYRES: No. They shot based on the previs. Not exactly, of course. Things change. And then, once I got the footage, I could ignore the previs. The previs didn’t matter anymore. However, I sometimes didn’t have a whole lot of options. Because we had limited coverage, except for performance differences sometimes there weren’t that many alternate ways I could cut it, but I wasn’t in any way constrained to stick to the previs.
But we had worked a long time on the previs and were pretty happy with it. So that was often a place where I started — with that structure — because usually that structure was pretty good.
Another thing that I did in that movie — it’s 3D, which Ang and I had never worked on before. So we had to learn about 3D. So we shot a lot of 3D tests and I did a lot of work with those tests just to learn how to edit in 3D, because at that time Media Composer didn’t support 3D, so to do convergence adjustments and to do any kind of comping and visual effects, it was a chore.
We wanted to do some interesting filmic things besides just cuts and dissolves and fades.
I don’t know if you’ve seen Hulk, but there’s a lot of very elaborate transitions in that, and those were all done in editorial. None of that was planned beforehand.
SQUYRES: Yeah. That was part of the editing process. He just told me, “Anything you can think of.” We weren’t going to do crazy stuff like that on Life of Pi, but the transitions from the storyteller in Montreal to the story that he’s telling in the past — some of those transitions are fairly elaborate. And so it was my job to work those out. So I actually hired actors and shot all those transitional scenes. And the stuff in India they shot very early in the shoot and we went onto the set that they were building for the apartment and I shot all the other parts and worked out what all the transitions were going to be.
And even during preproduction I had worked out some techniques that I thought we could do and figured out what you have to do in 3-D and where you have to put the green screen and all that. So that was another of my jobs on Life of Pi. I made four separate trips to Taiwan where we were shooting, and spent a total of nine weeks on set, because every time I was there I wound up working with the second unit, because I knew exactly what we needed.
HULLFISH: I’ve heard of several editors doing second unit work because you’re the one that needs it.
SQUYRES: Yeah. My shooting ratio when I do the second unit is pretty low because I know exactly what I need.
HULLFISH: So with Gemini Man — and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk — they’re both 3D AND high frame rate — 120FPS?
HULLFISH: So are you cutting the 3D in Avid now because it is capable of it?
SQUYRES: We cut in 3D on Life of Pi. Avid just didn’t support it. You had to trick it. If you have your dailies side-by-side or you’re outputting a side-by-side image, the monitor can present it as 3D.
With Life of Pi I heard all kinds of things about how 3D is different and how you have to do things differently in 3D. I hadn’t done it before and I didn’t want to be second-guessing everything I did. Normally, you sit and watch and you react to what you see. I wanted to be able to do that, and not have to think, “This looks good in 2D, but in 3D I may want to cut it slower or differently somehow.” I figured if I just cut in 3D I could just respond to what I see and not have to second-guess everything. So all three of those films are cut entirely in 3-D.
The editing room that I used for Life of Pi and Billy Lynn — I had to assemble on a monitor, but then I had a theater-grade projector and a twelve foot screen in a room with a big 5.1 sound system, so it’s like a movie theater. And on Gemini Man I had a 15 foot screen. We try to mimic a real viewing environment as much as we can, because high frame rate is different. It feels different and you probably cut definitely based on that. Billy Lynn and Gemini Man are cut at 60, not at 120 because Media Composer can’t run at 120. Hopefully someday soon. For Gemini Man, 60fps is what is going to be in most theaters, so it made sense to cut at 60fps.
HULLFISH: You were cutting on a big screen. I do think that makes a big difference.
SQUYRES: Yeah. And it varies depending on what I’m doing, sometimes just to save electricity I work on the monitor and sometimes sound editing I’ll work in 2D. But when Ang’s there, we’re 3D on the big screen.
HULLFISH: You’ve got a background in sound. Tell me a little bit about how those sound skills speak to picture editing.
SQUYRES: We say “picture editing” but you’re not just editing picture. You’re editing the movie and the movie is two things — picture and sound – and the sound is a very important part of it. Sound has a big influence on how you’re experiencing the film — whether it’s music or just the level of the sound effects. There is a visceral impact that sound has that’s a crucial part of the storytelling. So you can’t ignore it.
In Crouching Tiger, because of limited resources and because they shot all of the fight scenes M.O.S. (without sound), I just focused on music. But during the assembly screening, I told my assistant — who had the volume knob for this one opening fight scene where I used these heavy Japanese drums — “start it fairly loud and just keep turning it up.” By the end, it was so loud that your shirt was vibrating. Ang had only seen that scene MOS. So that was also kind of selling that idea and it was great, and we never even considered doing anything different with the music on that. So, the sound is a critical part of the storytelling.
The room that I’ve done these last three films in — I cut in 5.1. They room is actually 7.1, but for compatibility with other rooms I work in 5.1.
There’s a shot right at the beginning of Gemini Man — it’s this kind of fisheye shot of train tracks and a train comes in from one side and it crosses the screen with a very dramatic move. It’s one of these European bullet trains, so it’s going over two hundred kilometers an hour right past the camera. So the volume ramps and the panning are really aggressive and that’s so much more effective than hearing the train go by generically. Figuring out those kinds of things is a big part of the job — making the sound effective. Sometimes the sound is more important than the picture. Movie editors should be really good with sound because that’s a very fundamental part of the job.
Now it’s also part of the job where, as picture editor, you have to know when to stop. I could do a very elaborate sound job in the Avid, but then if you have to do a twelve frame trim and you’re running 40 tracks of audio it becomes unmanageable. So you have to know where to draw the line — where to say, “This is as far as I’m going to take it.”
If we’re previewing, then we’ll have sound editors work on it and do a mix. But you try to find a balance between making it sound as good as you can, but not doing so much that it becomes cumbersome to work with.
HULLFISH: I’m trying to picture the room with a 15 foot screen. Are you elevated in the back of the room?
SQUYRES: No. Just a flat floor, straight back. The room is about 26 feet long and we sit in the back of the room with a 15-foot screen in front and three speakers and a sub-woofer behind the screen and surrounds on the side. It’s a very good small screening room.
The other thing is for Billy Lynn and Gemini Man — because we’re 120fps, no lab facility can support us, so we had to have our own. At this new facility, we built a good theater. It’s one of the best small screening rooms in New York and we have two 4K Christie Mirage projectors and that’s our screening room and we have our lab there. We have two Baselights and two petabytes of spinning storage with all our dailies at full resolution. 3D at 120fps is a lot of pixels.
HULLFISH: All shot shot digitally?
SQUYRES: Yes. Shot on Alexa Ms on custom stereo rigs built for us by a German company called Stereotec. (stereotec.com)
HULLFISH: Have you ever edited on another NLE other than Avid?
SQUYRES: I first learned — back in 1990 or 1991 on EMC. They’d store the material on laser discs. It was very cumbersome and I hated it. I’ve messed around with Final Cut, but I’ve never gotten paid to use anything other than Media Composer.
HULLFISH: Guessing from our ages, you were just on the cusp of editing with film.
SQUYRES: I was supervising sound editor on a few features and assistant on four features on film. The first two features that I cut were on film — one of Ang’s and one before it. Then we cut The Wedding Banquet on Avid in 1992. That was one of the very, very first films cut on Media Composer. I’ve worked pretty exclusively on Media Composer ever since. We cut the whole thing on Media Composer. The first film we saw was answer print. I cut the production tracks and the music in Media Composer and we took the whole system to Sound One in New York, where we were mixing. You could only output two channels, so we output two channels at a time to an analog 16 track, and then used that as a source in the mix. So it wasn’t a hybrid edit. It was truly an all-Avid edit.
HULLFISH: I know there were a bunch of those hybrid edits in the early years where they were doing film conforms of workprints and the like — I think Quentin Tarantino was doing that.
SQUYRES: On Eat Drink Man Woman we conformed film and for screenings I output to mag straight from the Avid.
HULLFISH: So Will Smith plays himself. How did you edit those performances before you got composites?
SQUYRES: There are two basic kinds of scenes with the young Will Smith character. There are some scenes that he’s in with the older character. Their names are Henry and Junior. Henry is 51-year old Will Smith and Junior is 23-year old Will Smith. Then there are other scenes of Junior that Henry’s not in. So in scenes with Junior but no Henry, Will played the character on set with dots all over his face and head gear with the capture camera. So before I had any visual effects, that’s what I used and that’s all there was. So we just learned to ignore the dots and the helmet.
The harder ones were scenes that the two of them are in. When they’re in the same shot, Junior is played by another actor. We had a stand-in who read the lines — did everything. And so initially that’s all I had, so that’s what I would cut with because I didn’t have any choice. But then about halfway through the shoot and then again at the end of the shoot — we shot in the area around Savannah, Georgia, then a few weeks in Cartagena, Colombia and then we went to Budapest for the last two months.
When they first went to Budapest they spent about a week and a half doing performance capture, with Will Smith playing Junior on a performance capture stage. So we had a whole bunch of cameras around and he was wearing a motion capture suit and the helmet rig. They played the scene again and this time, the stand-in was playing Henry and Will was playing Junior. Now it wasn’t lit. It wasn’t on the real set. They built enough of a set so that they could stand in the right place. But the point was to capture his performance.
And then we did another batch of that after we finished principal photography. So for that, I cut with the witness cameras. I would find the angle that best matched what was what was in the shot, and do a picture-in-picture and put that head or sometimes the body over top of the stand-in. I would just track the box so that the performance was there.
That’s what we watched for a long time, because that’s the best you can do. Now, as WETA would give us temps we would swap those out. But I still kept those motion captures because we often had to refer back to them, so I kept them muted in the timeline. We had a mask layer that I kept them above.
HULLFISH: You said you were usually editing in New York, in this beautiful room you’ve got, but you also had to cut elsewhere.
SQUYRES: Yeah, I was in Budapest for the whole time they were there. So I spent two months in Budapest at a great facility. A studio just on the edge of town called Origo Studios. Terminator was coming in right behind us. Blade Runner had shot there before us. So it’s a very good facility. The room that I cut in there didn’t have a projector, but I had a really nice monitor and good sound, and we were very happy with that facility. And they had room for us to put our lab there, which was amazing, because just the air conditioning that we need is astounding.
We were having to start to roughly turn over to VFX some of the earlier stuff we had shot in Georgia — at least getting a couple of shots moving.
HULLFISH: With Billy Lynn and Life of Pi and this movie you’ve done quite a bit of 3D. Do you find that you are editing differently in 3D than you would be if you were editing in 2D?
SQUYRES: Well there’s more to think about. A lot of people don’t like 3D for a reason — because the 3D wasn’t done well. There are two things with 3D. One is: you have to make it comfortable. There are things you can adjust. On set they can adjust how much depth there is within a shot. I can’t really change that. But I can change what’s in front and what’s behind. That’s called reconverging, and I can do that to make a sequence more comfortable. Or you can do it to create effects. You can accomplish things with 3D. You can make people feel certain ways by bringing things forward; by suddenly pushing things back. For example, there was a shot in Life of Pi where he’s on a lifeboat that drops away from the camera, which is pointed down. You can either follow convergence so that as he drops away we stay with him, or you could keep convergence set and let him drop away — which is what they did in camera. But I actually did the opposite. I started him slightly forward and — as he dropped away — I pulled back, so I accentuated the drop. In 2D, we wouldn’t have this discussion, because it’s just a shot.
So there are a lot of things you can do with 3D and things that you have to worry about — things that are problems in 3D. Over-the-shoulder shots are often a problem because if you don’t want to put the person who’s the subject too deep behind the screen, the person whose shoulder your over might very well be in front of the screen. And if they’re in front of the screen and they intersect with the edge of the screen, that’s weird looking, and so you have to do what’s called a “floating window” to essentially bring the frame edge forward. So you can bring the frame edge forward so that it’s in front of whatever is in front of the screen.
We have floating windows on hundreds of shots. Some people — when they do 3D — they compose very carefully so they never do that. We didn’t do that. So we’ve got hundreds of floating windows.
HULLFISH: I talked to Mark Singer who worked in 3D on Gravity, and he said a lot of the trick with 3D is the transition between a close up on a face and a shot of the vastness of space which really has no 3D to it because it’s infinite.
SQUYRES: Evolution designed your eyes to always focus where they converge. When you’re in a movie theater, that’s not what you do. Your eyes are always focused on the screen, but they converge in front of or behind, which can be uncomfortable if you go too far. What happens is — if you’re looking at the screen and something comes out in front of the screen you can follow it very comfortably, but then if you cut to something that is converged behind the screen, that hurts because your eyes have to do a snap adjustment which they weren’t evolved to do. So that’s what you want to try to avoid.
There are things you can do to ease that. Sometimes with a big wide shot where everything is far away — where, as you say, there’s no inherent 3D, because your eyes don’t really see 3D past about 50 or 70 feet — you don’t have to put that right on the screen. You can put that BEHIND the screen and that makes it feel even bigger. But if you just cut to that from a shot that has the subject in front of the screen, that’s uncomfortable. What you can do if you want that effect, of it being big, you can cut to it right at the screen plane and then during the shot, push it back and people won’t notice, but they’ll feel it. The cut will be more comfortable, but you still get the impression that you want from it — feeling big, which you get when you push something back. As I bring this forward (Squyres moves a piece of paper closer to and further from the camera) it gets bigger and smaller and bigger and smaller, but if you take something and push it back and forth in depth without scaling it, you don’t really feel it. It doesn’t feel like it’s receding and approaching. It is, but your brain doesn’t process it the same way. So you can get away with fairly big moves, and that’s one thing you do to try to smooth things out. There are a lot of extra variables to contend with in 3-D.
HULLFISH: Are you always cutting with glasses on?
HULLFISH: I’d hope you have some special Tim Squyres glasses and not the ones you get at the theater.
SQUYRES: Yes. I have some custom glasses. I don’t use the ones you get in the movie theater.
One thing we should talk about is frame rate, to understand why we shoot at 120. There are some problems with 3D — especially problems with 3D that relate to 24fps. 24 has inherent motion blur and strobing. Great artists have done great work with that for a long time, but in 3D, strobing tends to be more annoying and more noticeable than in 2D. The way that cinematographers try to address that is by opening up the shutter angle, which helps to minimize the strobing but increases motion blur. There are some scenes where Pi is on a life raft and he’s bobbing up and down in the ocean, and we were losing his performance in the motion blur.
The movie that Ang wanted to do next after Pi was a boxing movie, and the way that real boxers move in the ring, you’d never see them because there’s so much bobbing and weaving that you would lose a lot of the performance. The best way to address that was to do some experiments at higher framerates. At that time, Jim Cameron was pushing 60fps, so we shot a bunch of tests and we discovered that when we shot tests with real boxers at 24fps, you couldn’t really see them. But at 60fps you could see what the guy’s thinking as he’s coming in. So it made a big difference.
So we decided to shoot at a high framerate, but 60 has a problem because if you shoot 60 and you still have to deliver a version at 24fps, creating that is very difficult because 60 is 24 times two and a half. So it’s complicated and expensive to make that 24fps deliverable. So what we decided to do after consulting with some people and thinking about it, is to shoot at 120fps. That’s 24 times five or 60 times two. Shoot with a 360 degree shutter — which you can with digital cameras. You can then easily create a 24fps deliverable and you can also easily create a 60.
On Billy Lynn, we were not thinking we’d ever release at 120fps. We weren’t considering that as a release format. That was a capture format. You could just take three frames and combine them and then discard the next two and then combine the next three and discard the next two and project at 24 and it will look you shot with a 216 shutter, or if you kept two and threw away three, it looks like a 144 shutter. There is some software called Truemotion that RealD has to reduce frame rates. What this Truemotion software does is combine various frames and parts of frames so you get softer, smoother or sharper edges for the motion blur when you go down to the lower framerate.
By capturing at 120 with a 360 shutter, the idea was that we could create a 60fps version that looked better than if we shot at 60, and with the same footage also create a 24fps deliverable that looked better than if we shot at 24. And we would have control over how much motion blur and how much strobing there was shot by shot or frame by frame.
So 120 wasn’t considered as a release format, but we had the capability to watch 120 in our cutting room, and it looked amazing. So for Billy Lynn we did have a few theaters. We had three theaters — one in Taiwan, one in Beijing, and one in Shanghai and then — very briefly — one week in L.A. and a couple of weeks in New York that showed it at 120, 4K, 3D, 28 foot lamberts — which is twice as bright as a normal 2D movie. Those theaters were sold out for months in China. It’s an amazing experience watching a movie that way.
For Gemini Man, Dolby Vision theaters can show it 120, 2k, 3D. I don’t know what the release schedule is yet. We will have a few theaters that will show at 4K, and in China there will be a bunch of theaters that will show it at 4K, 3D, 120fps.
HULLFISH: How do you view dailies? You talked about pulling selects reels to edit. When you’re watching dailies for the first time. What are you actually doing? How do you approach that?
SQUYRES: Most often I’m not where the crew is screening dailies. I’m on my own. So I’m not going to a proper formal dailies screening. I tend to think that just sitting and watching dailies is not worth the time.
SQUYRES: Yeah. I don’t take notes even when I do go to dailies. When I was in Budapest I went to dailies every day, but they were kind of abbreviated dailies. We wouldn’t watch everything, so I couldn’t choose takes that way.
So when I’m working on my own I don’t do that. When I get footage for a scene, I’ll watch a master — if there is a master — or I’ll watch enough to understand what the scene is — to see what they were doing emotionally, what the blocking is, to figure that out, and then I just start with the first set up, then the second set up.
I don’t sit and watch every take first. Some editors don’t really use pop-up monitors in the Avid. I don’t know if you do. But I do. If I have seven takes of something, I’ll open up all seven takes in pop-up monitors — six takes in pop-up monitors and one in the source monitor — and just go through them line by line and pull out all the pieces that I think are working best.
HULLFISH: What’s the value of doing that in pop-up monitors instead of just sequentially in the source monitor?
SQUYRES: Because then I have the same line at the same place on all of the pop-ups. If I don’t know which one I like best, I have a mark in to out, I just click on it, hit six, click on it, hit six, click on it, hit 6, and I’ve got all of them available right in front of me all the time. So that’s become an integral part of my process — to have all the different takes of the setup open to me. So instead of trying to compare Take 5 with Take 3 which I watched four minutes ago, I can try to go find it, or if I do it with pop-ups, it’s right there. So for comparing takes I just find it more helpful if I watch them in pop-up monitors.
I don’t necessarily go line by line by line by line. You can watch chunks, but if I have them all open, then I can compare them more easily because they’re all right in front of me.
HULLFISH: You don’t gang those monitors, do you?
SQUYRES: No, because they wouldn’t necessarily travel together anyway. And also, if I ganged them, there’s a chance I wouldn’t be watching parts of them. If I ganged them that means I’m dragging past a bunch and all these other ones that I haven’t watched yet. Then I’m not doing my job.
HULLFISH: And Ang and the crew do actually watch legitimate dailies, like old school dailies?
SQUYRES: Yeah. Especially on these last couple 3D movies. He thought it was really important for the crew to see what The footage looked like, because 120 doesn’t look like 24. He thought it was really important for everybody — not the whole crew — but the camera department, if it had stunts, then the stunt coordinator, the script supervisor and sound and the people that need to know what we’re doing. It’s good to bring them in to see dailies.
One thing we did on Life of Pi — the shipwreck sequence in that was something we shot early on in Taiwan — we were still less than halfway through the shoot when I had that whole sequence put together with music and sound effects and everything. Some of it was previs at that point. Ang and the producer saw it and they decided that at lunch over the next week — our screening room held about 40 people — they’d bring the whole crew in in shifts to watch it just as a morale booster. It was really impressive.
You can be on the set with this wave tank going and the camera’s way over there and you just don’t know what the hell’s going on, so for the whole crew — even the drivers — everyone came in and watched it. Especially when you’re working in a format that people aren’t used to it’s important to see it properly.
HULLFISH: Tim, thank you so much for your time today. I really enjoyed talking to you.
The first 50 interviews in the series provided the material for the book, “Art of the Cut: Conversations with Film and TV Editors.” This is a unique book that breaks down interviews with many of the world’s best editors and organizes it into a virtual roundtable discussion centering on the topics editors care about. It is a powerful tool for experienced and aspiring editors alike. Cinemontage and CinemaEditor magazine both gave it rave reviews. No other book provides the breadth of opinion and experience. Combined, the editors featured in the book have edited for over 1,000 years on many of the most iconic, critically acclaimed and biggest box office hits in the history of cinema.
Camera bag manufacturer Shimoda has launched its Kickstarter campaign for the Action X Camera Bags, its latest camera bag series that builds upon Shimoda’s Adventure Series. The Action X series includes three backpacks, two updated roller bags and a number of add-on accessories.
Pitched as an ‘ultra-aggressive line of camera bags and accessories,’ the Action X Series is made to withstand nearly any environment you throw at them while offering plenty of flexibility to fit your needs thanks to the internal Core Units and modular accessories.
Action X Backpacks
The X50 backpack is the mid-sized model that offers 50 liters of internal capacity at its smallest and up to 58 liters when the roll-top section is completely filled.
Starting with the backpacks, Shimoda is offering three sizes: the X30, X50 and X70. These bags offer roughly the internal volume, in liters, of their respective names and offer a roll-top design that can be used to shrink or expand the internal volume as needed.
Rolling the top closed is a fairly straightforward process, but in the event you forget, don’t worry—Shimoda included instructions right on the bag.
Like their Adventure Series counterparts, the bags offer a number of features, including height-adjustable and swappable shoulder straps, a 15-inch laptop sleeve on the back panel, dual carrying handles, weatherproof designs and countless straps and attachment points for attaching almost anything to the bag, be it a water bottle, tripod, helmet, skis or even a sleeping bag.
Tucked inside the bag is a 50ºF down-alternative sleeping bag, a single-person hammock and an insulated sleeping pad with a windbreaker jacket underneath it all.
The most noticeable difference between the Adventure Series and Action X Series is the new roll-top design that compresses and expands to your needs. However, there’s also a new removable belt and a number of new shoulder strap options, including a trio of female-specific shoulder straps, to ensure the most comfortable fit possible.
This is what the bag looks like folded up with the gear from the previous picture inside.
We were sent a pre-production X50 review unit (with a DSLR Medium Core Unit) to take original photos with for this article and test out before launch. Having spent time with Shimoda’s Adventure Series bags in the past, it’s clear from our time with the X50 backpack that Shimoda has been hard at work fixing a number of sore spots within its inaugural camera bag lineup.
The Core Unit’s side flap now folds neatly into a little slot on the backpack’s side access point, which makes it much easier to access a camera kit quickly without removing the bag from your back.
The most notable improvement from our experience with the bag was the updated side access pockets. On the original Adventure Series camera bags, side access was possible, but it seemed like a bit of an afterthought. The Action X Series dramatically improves side access with the V2 Core Units and a clever little slot in the side access panel that now allows the Core Unit to open with the side access panel on the backpack, making it exponentially easier to access a camera or drone without the need to entirely remove the backpack.
The side access is nice, but when you need access to all of your gear, this is how you’ll get it.
The roll-top design of the Action X Series also proved to be a nice change of pace from the Adventure Series. Not only does it clear up clutter on the top of the bag compared to the Adventure Series, it was also beneficial when we needed to shrink or expand the internal storage depending on what gear we were carrying with us on a given day.
The shoulder straps attached to our X50 pre-production model were the standard straps. Also available is a padded strap and three different female-specific straps with thoughtful contours and padding location.
We didn’t get to test out any of the new female-specific shoulder strap designs or the padded ‘Plus’ shoulder straps, but just having the option to swap out shoulder straps is a welcomed feature that very few other camera backpacks offer.
Updated Roller Bags
In addition to new backpacks, Shimoda has also launched updated roller bags: the Carry On and a new DV (Digital Video) version. The Carry On is essentially the same as the previous roller Shimoda offered, but improves durability and adds new 100mm wheels, which provide more clearance from the ground and are both smoother and quieter than the first-generation roller bags. The new DV version is identical to its Carry On counterpart, but larger in each dimension to offer more real estate when carrying larger video equipment and/or super telephoto lenses.
As with Shimoda’s adventure series, the new Action X Camera Bags work alongside Shimoda’s Core Units to protect camera gear inside the bag and make it easy to transfer gear from one bag to another or from a backpack to a roller bag. The updated Core Units come in five sizes: Mirrorless Medium, DSLR Medium, DSLR Large, DV Large and DV Extra Large. Shimoda has provided the below graphic to show what bags are compatible with the different Core Unit sizes.
Aside from the new side-access functionality, the V2 Core Units are essentially identical to the first generation units, aside from the addition of two larger sizes.
The Top Loader accessory is large enough to carry a camera body and lens or a small drone kit.
In addition to new bags and updated Core Units, Shimoda has also added a few new accessories, including a new Top Loader bag for smaller kits, a 4 Panel Wrap for organizing cables and a Stuff Sack Kit for compressing clothes and other gear.
Shimoda has already surpassed its $30K goal on Kickstarter. There are countless kit variations available through Kickstarter, but the basic X30 Starter Kit — which includes the backpack, a Medium Mirrorless Core Unit and a Rain Cover — starts at $250. Prices go up from there depending on the size of bag you want and the Core Units and accessories you want alongside the bags.
The first backpacks are expected to ship December 2019 to ‘Anywhere in the world.’
Disclaimer: Remember to do your research with any crowdfunding project. DPReview does its best to share only the projects that look legitimate and come from reliable creators, but as with any crowdfunded campaign, there’s always the risk of the product or service never coming to fruition.
Back in July, my Godox TT350O flash went wrong. I simply got an E9 message on the LCD and it wouldn’t work at all. It was annoying as I had enjoyed using Godox flashes and wireless transmitter up until then and had even recommended them to others.
I emailed Godox customer support and got a fairly swift reply:
Hello Neil, a
E9 on the LCD, procedure is gone wrong by improper operation, you will have to re-upgrade the Firmware, and that ought to reset your flash.
I couldn’t upgrade the firmware, so I left the flash a few days with the batteries out and tried again with no luck. So emailed back saying it didn’t work. I got no reply after 10 days, so I emailed again.
After another 5 days later, I finally got a reply:
I am sorry but i am trying to sort out this problem with Godox China.
Anyhow, the engineer is requesting a video clip to have a better understanding
Would you be as kind as to do that? thank you!
It took me a week to get around to filming it and sending it as the file was too big to email and I feared the one week limit on the download link would expire before they got around to downloading it on their end if I used WeTransfer’s file-transfer service. I did and got this reply 8 days later:
Terribly sorry, but there seems to be a technical problem to open your video clip (see below note from Godox-China) could you please be as kind as to re-send it.
I think we can all guess what the ‘technical problem’ was here.
I was getting annoyed by this point and had some personal stuff going on so, left I it for a week before I sat down and tried again. To be fair, I got a reply that day saying it had been forwarded on to the engineer.
2 weeks passed and I got a reply:
I am very sorry about this long delay, At long last Godox – China has come with a solution, they haver agreed to ex-change your faulty TT350 flash
Could you please be as kind as to send me back your faulty unit, to the below address.
So I sent it off at my own cost a couple of days later and waited for a reply.
And what I got in response, after all that, was somewhat disappointing:
Just to let you know that, I have received your faulty flash!
My plan was to send you straight away a replacement, but unfortunately, we haven’t got in stock any longer.
So i have taken the liberty to enclosed a quotation for a new V350o flash unit, there’s a difference of £22.00 though.
Please let me know if you would like to proceed with this, otherwise, we will have to wait until i received the replacement from Godox, within 12 weeks.
12 weeks! That’s 3 months! Either that or I pay them more money and get a flash that is identical except it uses a built-in battery, for which I’ll have to pay out more money to buy a spare.
I had enough by this point and sent the following:
I ‘m afraid waiting 12 weeks is unacceptable. I have been waiting since the 1st July for this to be sorted and have missed a large part of the insect macro season without my flash set up.
I will have to ask for a refund (I paid £69.00 on Amazon) and would like the £4 postage I paid refunded as well.
The response a couple of days later was:
I am not justifying the slow process , unfortunately, sometimes this things happen.
Did you buy the unit from us. Photomart i.e.
Now life got very busy for me at this point and dealing with a constant back and forth trying to get a refund on a £70 flash just wasn’t a priority.
But on a recent effort to clear my email backlog I sent a reply:
It was bought from Amazon via Letwing Digital Studio
Unfortunately for me, despite the fact it was purchased through Amazon UK, Godox decided suddenly, now that I had asked for a refund, that this was an issue.
Well since it was purchased from Amazon , this product is a grey import, as Letwing is a Chinese dealer, you should have take it with them directly.
After all this time, they decided it wasn’t their problem. They now have possession of my flash, which I posted to them at my own cost and had me waiting for weeks (even taking into account delays at my end).
So I then asked them this:
So will you not replace the item either then?
The reply was:
I am afraid the answer in no.
I made you an offer, that you declined …! So i have taken the liberty to enclosed a quotation for a new V350o flash unit, there’s a difference of £ 22.00 though.
I find this hard to read as anything other than “you had your chance now give us more money or get nothing.” I didn’t expect top-level customer service paying what I did, but this is just beyond poor.
I sent the following for clarification a few hours ago:
So just so I’m clear: basically its pay £22 or get nothing?
We shall see what the reply is… but needless to say, I will be avoiding Godox in the future.
About the author: Neil Phillips is a wildlife photographer, naturalist, and environmental educator based in the UK. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Phillips’ work on his website, Facebook, and Twitter. This article was also published here.
Here’s a photo-related job you’ve probably never heard of before: professional “pigeon spooker.” Pay a visit to certain areas of Thailand, and you may come across people who now make a living by helping tourists capture the perfect travel photo by scaring pigeons.
Viral Press reports that the pro pigeon spookers can be found in northern Thailand at the ancient wall in Chiang Mai known as the Tha Pae Gate.
Do a search for #thapaegate on Instagram, and you’ll find that many tourists visit the spot to shoot the same photo concept: themselves standing or walking in front of the wall with a group of pigeons flying through the frame.
What you don’t see in these photos is that many of them were shot with the help of the professional pigeon spookers, who charge about 20 Thai Baht (the equivalent of $0.65) to help stage the shot by getting into position and then stamping their feet or waving their arms to scare pigeons into the air.
One of the 30-year-old pigeon spookers working the location says she takes in around 350 Thai Baht (or $11.50) per day for her services, according to Viral Press.