The Ultimate Film Budgeting Guide [FREE Film Budget Template]

There are so many elements to consider when calculating your film’s production budget. This comprehensive guide and free film budget template will get you started.

So, you’re planning to make a film. That’s great, perhaps you are a producer or maybe an independent filmmaker. On larger film sets it is the line producer or unit production manager who prepares the film’s budget, and to do this they may use film budgeting software such as Movie Magic.

But budgeting software can be expensive and for many projects, it makes sense to use a free template like the one we’re going to provide here:

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Tokina atx-i 100mm f/2.8 Macro FF: more than a macro lens for full frame DSLRs

Tokina atx-i 100mm f/2.8 Macro FF: more than a macro lens for DSLRs

The second lens offering in the new atx-i series, the new atx-i 100mm F2.8 Macro FF for full-frame Canon and Nikon DSLR cameras is much more than a macro lens: it’s a versatile medium telephoto.

Distributed in the US exclusively by Kenko Tokina USA, and priced at $429.00, the new atx-i 100mm f/2.8 Macro FF lens for full-frame Canon and Nikon DSLR cameras features a competitive price in a lens that offers everything a macro photographer may need: life-sized (1:1) reproduction at 11.8 inches (30cm) from the sensor plane, and a a “flat-field” optical design that suppresses the field-of-view curvature to zero, meaning the lens yields excellent edge-to-edge sharpness at all focus distances and apertures.

Based on widely popular Tokina AT-X M100 PRO D Macro model, the atx-i 100mm F2.8 Macro FF is redesigned and optimized for contemporary full-frame DSLR cameras with still photographers and video content creators’ demands in mind. It’s a lens that does much more than its Macro designation may suggest to some users.

Photographs by Harry Collins

More than a macro lens

While many will pick this Tokina as their macro lens, this is much more than a macro lens, being a versatile mid-range auto-focus telephoto lens with excellent close focusing capabilities that paired with the luminous and fast aperture of f/2.8 makes it easy to focus in low light and gives immediately perceptible separation between subject and background.

Anyone familiar with this focal length in macro will tell you that this can be an excellent choice for portraits, landscapes, video, and small world photography. The photographs by Harry Collins distributed by Tokina to show the versatility of the lens, are a perfect example of the potential of the atx-i 100mm F2.8 Macro FF in terms of macro photography, ambient nature shots and also the soft bokeh it offers under the right conditions.

The optical design of the lens features zero curvature of field and extremely low distortion, says Tokina, while maintaining super high resolution across the entire image along with low falloff and perfectly controlled chromatic aberration. Multi-coating applied to optical elements effectively control flare and ghosting while rendering natural color.

Tokina atx-i 100mm f/2.8 Macro FF: more than a macro lens for DSLRs

Lens available December 6

The One-Touch Focus Clutch Mechanism makes switching from auto-focus to manual focus simple. While in AF mode the user only needs to snap the focus ring back toward the camera to engage “real” manual focus control. This gives photographers an authentic tactile MF feel with hard stops on either side of the focus range like traditional manual lenses. A focus range limiter switch on the side of the lens locks the lens focus into or out of the macro focusing range to avoid excessive AF hunting. Additionally, the directional rotation of the focus ring matches the direction of proprietary Nikon and Canon lenses.

Tokina atx-i 100mm f/2.8 Macro FF: more than a macro lens for DSLRsNikon users should know that te Tokina atx-i 100mm f/2.8 Macro FF Nikon F mount is equipped with manual aperture ring based on Ai AF Nikkor D-Type lens standard that allows to use this lens with wide variety of cameras including old Nikon film cameras. While this expands compatibility, it should be noted that when used with Nikon DSLRs that do not have a focus motor in the camera body like D3000 and D5000 series, only MF mode is available.

“This is the second lens offering in the new atx-i series.” says Yuji Matsumoto, President at Kenko Tokina USA. “It combines the award-winning optics of the original ATX model with a sleek new look that matches the cosmetics of today’s advanced DSLR cameras.”

Worldwide sales of the Tokina atx-i 100mm F2.8 Macro FF macro lens begin on December 6, 2019, so, if you want to explore new worlds in 2020, it is time to check Kenko Tokina USA, to know more information about the lens.

The post Tokina atx-i 100mm f/2.8 Macro FF: more than a macro lens for full frame DSLRs appeared first on ProVideo Coalition.

Venus Optics adds Canon RF, Nikon Z mount options to three of its most popular lenses

Venus Optics has announced that it’s adding Canon RF and Nikon Z variants to three of its existing Laowa lenses.

The Laowa 12mm F2.8 Zero-D, 25mm F2.8 2.5-5X Ultra Macro and 100mm F2.8 2X Ultra Macro have all been altered so they can now work on Canon and Nikon’s full-frame mirrorless systems. Aside from the mount alterations, the lenses remain unchanged from their counterparts.

You can find our previous coverage of the lenses below:

The new Canon RF and Nikon Z mount versions of the Laowa 12mm F2.8 Zero-D ($949), 25mm F2.8 2.5-5X Ultra Macro ($399) and 100mm F2.8 2X Ultra Macro ($449) are available to purchase on the Venus Optics website.

The Director of John Wick Shot an Epic Snowball Fight with the iPhone 11 Pro

Now this is a “Shot on iPhone” ad we can get behind. Director David Leitch of John Wick and Deadpool 2 fame was tasked with putting together Apple’s latest iPhone 11 Pro commercial, and he chose to film an epic “snowbrawl” fight.

Controversial as these videos tend to be, Leitch isn’t trying to convince anyone that the iPhone will replace the high-end cinema cameras he’s used to using (he’s literally wearing an ARRI fleece at one point…). What he does say—implicitly through the final “snowbrawl” video and explicitly in the BTS video below—is that being able to shoot high-(enough)-quality 4K/60p video in a camera this portable opens up creative possibilities.

“We’re getting creative with the flexibility of the camera, how light they are and how mobile they are,” says Leitch. “Things that are hard to simulate with big film cameras, [for example] we were able to make this classic Kung Fu composition very quickly and easily.”

Check out the full BTS video below:

When it comes to Shot on iPhone ads, long gone are the days when anybody was “fooled” into believing they were shot using “only” an iPhone. There’s lighting, and gimbals, and a whole crew there to make sure the footage looks as professional as possible. But Apple doesn’t seem to be trying to hide that from anybody either.

If you remove the branding, the videos become less about gear and more about embracing creativity despite constraints.

“You don’t need all the equipment I have on these big Hollywood movies to tell a great story,” opines Leitch. “Hopefully this piece can inspire filmmakers to take the device out and be as creative as we were here.”

That’s a message we can get behind, no matter what smartphone the ad happens to be pushing.

(H/T Anthony Quintano)

5 Secrets to Converting Presets to Profiles in Lightroom and ACR

5 Secrets to Converting Presets to Profiles in Lightroom and ACR

The introduction of profiles in Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw was a significant addition to editing for Adobe users. Not only can profiles improve your editing power, but they can also simplify your post-processing workflow.

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“This Is the First Film Todd and I Filmed Digitally”: DP Ed Lachman on Dark Waters

Starting with 2002’s Far from Heaven, cinematographer Ed Lachman worked with director Todd Haynes on four features before this year’s Dark Waters. Based on a true story, the movie follows corporate attorney Rob Bilott (played by Mark Ruffalo) as he investigates industrial pollution on a farm in Appalachia. The case widened to include the entire town of Parkersburg, West Virginia, and led to a years-long lawsuit against DuPont. Lachman spoke with Filmmaker at Camerimage, the International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography, held this year in Toruń, Poland. Filmmaker: How did you and Todd approach this story? Lachman: In his storytelling Todd has always dealt with how our culture treats the outsider and insider. The difference is […]

Google Photos starts rolling out manual face tagging feature on mobile

As promised this past summer by product lead David Lieb, Google Photos has been updated to support manual face tagging. The feature first started rolling out to some users last week, according to Android Police, only days after XDA spotted signs of the new feature in an app teardown. The feature still has not arrived for all users, however.

Manual face tagging is a new Google Photos feature that builds upon the service’s existing face-detection algorithm. With this new tool, users are able to manually correct errors made by the algorithm and to also immediately tag images of new people who haven’t yet been identified by the app.

Users who have access to the feature note one big limitation with the new tool: the app does not allow users to tag faces that weren’t detected by the algorithm. As well, it isn’t yet clear whether manually tagging people and correcting mistakes will help improve the algorithm’s ability to detect those people in subsequent photos.

Users who have access to the new manual face tagging option can find the tool within the Google Photos app’s ‘Albums’ menu. Tap on ‘People & Pets,’ then tap on an image. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal the menu containing EXIF data, then swipe up again.

The person featured in the image will be listed under a section title ‘People.’ If you have access to the manual face tagging feature, you will see a new pen icon located next to the person within this ‘People’ section. Android Police notes that this feature is rolling out through a server-side update, meaning that users can’t manually update the app to get access to the new tagging option.

Via: Android Police

Photographers: Should You Buy An iPhone 11 Pro?

Should you buy an iPhone 11 Pro? That’s a big question many people have had on their minds since Apple recently released their latest flagship smartphone that contains 3 different rear-facing cameras. However, a thorough answer to that question isn’t cut and dry.

I will explain further in a minute, but the simpler question, from a purely photographic perspective, comes down to what type of photo-taking individual you are.

First, let me start by saying this article is not meant to be another technical review of the new iPhones. They are, without a doubt, Apple’s best iPhones to date. Thus, the discussion here is mainly geared toward people who are photographers that, for lack of a better word, already own and use a “traditional camera” on a regular basis.

So for those people who mainly use a camera for taking quick photos of family and friends, social media purposes, or any other use where having an excellent smartphone camera in your pocket at all times is what’s needed, then, by all means, the iPhone 11 Pro probably offers the best camera array available at the moment.

Or, if you just need a new phone, one with great cameras, and can afford the price of an iPhone 11 Pro, then it’s a fantastic choice for these reasons as well.

But the confusing issue I see for the other photographers out there is that smartphone cameras, aside from some of their technical limitations in resolution and dynamic range, are getting so good that people, within the more serious picture-taking world, have begun to ask themselves “Why do I still need a traditional camera to take my pictures with at all?”

It is a fair question.

And the real reason I wrote this article is I want to discuss whether the iPhone 11 Pro is creatively a good thing for more serious photographers or not. Meaning, is it really a positive for those of us who usually use a traditional camera for most of our picture-taking? I am referring to those who are avid photo-taking hobbyists, amateur enthusiasts, or even people who derive income from photography.

So, here is the twist: As more and more people are excited by the convenience of having a great camera right in their front pocket, I, as a long-time commercial photographer, began questioning if these rapid advances (in over-simplified picture-taking technology) are really as good for us as they may seem?

Although there are some people out there doing some innovative things with smartphone cameras, there is also a lot of uninspiring imagery being created from this new medium of “camera-always-in-the- pocket”, and this is my concern. And with that said, a lot of the creative and technical principles of photography are being neglected in the process.

As I started to consider getting an iPhone 11 Pro myself, mainly because of its new triad of high-quality cameras that I mentioned, I asked myself; “If I have that new iPhone in my pocket, will I stop carrying my traditional cameras around the way I often do now?” And since the answer to that question was a very possible “Yes”, I felt it necessary to take a step back.

If I effortlessly pull something out of my pocket, can almost thoughtlessly point it at any subject (with very little contemplation of framing or even focus), and take a photo instantly, then the value of capturing an image may become about as important to me as what color socks I am wearing.

To me, that would constitute a real loss, and perhaps creativity and the quality of my work would suffer from it. And although all that technological convenience may seem like a positive thing, a poorer final outcome is still possible, even with the use of higher-level technology.

As a working photographer, a lot of thought first goes into choosing my background, controlling depth of field, and how I am going to compose and shoot something when I look through the camera’s viewfinder. These are facets of picture taking that I feel are so essential to the creative process and final outcome. They are also important steps that put me “into the zone,” open up my mind’s eye, and force me to keep challenging myself to up my game.

Thus, I decided that I don’t want to get so complacent and uninspired about the importance of capturing a fleeting-moment-in-time to where my photography becomes so effortless and maybe even humdrum. Perhaps some people will not see the thought (of diverging from this new high-quality compact smartphone camera technology) from my point of view, but that’s fair game.

And although the advances in smartphone camera technology are impressive, I would rather not succumb to becoming a snap-happy smartphone shutter-bug where very little effort is invested into what I am actually shooting. Most importantly, I want to stay sharp and continue to approach photography like an OG lensman.

I still believe that a great picture is worth a thousand words and I still want to tell people that the image I am sharing with them was shot with something known as a camera, not merely a convenient pocket-sized device with little lenses the size of a fingernail.

But, I am not a purist. I still support the practical argument in photography that it doesn’t quite matter how you get from point A to point B, as long as you get there. And I’m not saying that using a DSLR or mirrorless camera makes one a better photographer. Or even that someone using a smartphone camera is any less of a photographer.

I am just adding that how you approach capturing an image is equally as important to the final outcome as the technology used to create it.

In conclusion, I will still carry a traditional camera, and be forced to utilize the slower methods of photography needed to capture a photo — the same ones I have always used to create my most important work. So, unfortunately, the iPhone 11 Pro won’t be found in my pocket competing for attention (with my other cameras) just yet.


About the author: Marc Schultz is a travel and commercial photographer who writes a blog about various aspects of photography during his free time. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. To read more of his writing visit the Marc Schultz Photography Blog. This article was also published here.

Retrospective 4 V2: a shoulder bag for street photographers with mirrorless

Retrospective 4 V2: a shoulder bag for street photographers

With its compact size, discreet look and sound silencers, the Retrospective 4 V2 looks like a camera any street photographer hero from my youth would use. Discover here what the new version has to offer.

The latest edition to Think Tank Photo’s Retrospective V2.0 shoulder bag series, the Retrospective 4 V2.0, is sized for Rangefinder and Mirrorless camera systems such as Leica, Sony and Fuji. Yes, you will also be able to fit inside this shoulder bag compact DSLR bodies like the Canon 80D and Nikon D750, but you should probably look elsewhere if you use those or similar cameras, as the Retrospective V2.0 shoulder bag series is conceived with other public in mind. Or the same public but with other tools, as many photographers will, nowadays, jump from DSLR to mirrorless depending on the exact needs of any photographic situation, or the mood of the moment. And it is always good to have multiple bags to choose from, as any photographer, me included, knows well.

The compact size of the Retrospective 4 V2 helps photographers to be more disciplined about what they carry around. This is not a “carry everything with you” shoulder bag, but a solution that allows a photographer to be nimble, able to move swiftly when searching for subjects to photograph. With its classic canvas look, this soft, form-fitting bag offers the essential Retrospective V2.0 features, including sound silencers, padded shoulder strap, customizable dividers (with smartphone pocket) and metal hardware. Travel and street photographers will appreciate the Retrospective 4 for its compact size, discreet look and undisputed Think Tank quality.

What fits inside?

If you’re a DSLR user, be prepared to be able to fit a Canon EOS 5D with 18–135mm f/3.5-5.6 attached and an 85mm f/1.8, and not much more. Those using Nikon can expect to fit a  Nikon D750 with 50mm f/1.8 attached and a 35mm f/1.8, key lenses for street photography. Packing a mirrorless inside the Retrospective 4 V2 shoulder bag means you can take an extra lens. One example is the  Sony a7rII with 24–70mm f/4 attached, 16-35mm f/4 and a 55mm f/1.8 , the second the Fuji X-T3 with 56mm f/1.2 attached, 16mm f/1.4, 23mm f/1.4 . See?

“The Retrospective V2.0 shoulder bag series has always been one of our most popular lines,” said Doug Murdoch, Think Tank CEO and Lead Designer. “Now with the Retrospective 4 V2.0 we deliver all of the style and uncompromising quality of the larger bags in the line, but in a smaller size that’s ideal for mirrorless and rangefinder users.”

Retrospective 4 V2: a shoulder bag for street photographers

The envy of many street photographers

The soft and form-fitting with minimalist outer appearance Retrospective 4 V2.0 features DWR treated 100% cotton canvas exterior with metal hardware, and Hook-and-loop “Sound Silencers” that street photographers appreciate, as they offer discretion when needed. With an expandable front pocket, zippered pocket for valuables and small items, the bag as additional dividers to subdivide compartments for smaller lenses and an interior divider with phone and SD card pockets.

With a wide storage pocket on back, removable carrying handle, an adjustable shoulder strap with cushioned non-slip pad and a seam-sealed rain cover included, the Retrospective V2.0 offers you all the advantages of modern technology in a shoulder bag that would probably be adopted by many street photographers from the past, if it was available then.

The Retrospective 4 V2.0 shoulder bag costs $ 99.75. It is available in the classic Pinestone from Think Tank Photos’s series of bags, and also in Black, which I must admit would be my choice, if I was looking for a compact shoulder bag for 2020.

The post Retrospective 4 V2: a shoulder bag for street photographers with mirrorless appeared first on ProVideo Coalition.

Back to One, Episode 86: Emily Beecham

Emily Beecham won the best actress award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for her brilliantly nuanced and tightly focused performance in Jessica Hausner’s art house science fiction film Little Joe. Recently she played The Widow in the AMC series Into The Badlands, starred in Daphne, and had a memorable supporting role in Hail Caesar. In this episode she talks about the importance of connection, avoiding “attractive acting,” Mike Leigh, the strenuousness of intense physical performance, her Little Joe hair, and much more! Back To One can be found wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and […]

The Surreal Sound in US

After the acclaimed hit Get Out, writer/director Jordan Peele followed up with yet another horror/thriller masterpiece in US. US follows Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) as she experienced a horrific traumatic incident at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk as a young girl. Years later, she has returned to the beachfront house accompanied by her husband, daughter, […]

The post The Surreal Sound in US appeared first on Below the Line.

Apple Names Spectre Camera the Best iPhone App of 2019

Yesterday evening Apple crowned the best iOS and MacOS apps of 2019 and, unsurprisingly, a camera app managed to take the title of “iPhone App of the Year.” Created by Lux Optics, the winner is Spectre Camera: an AI-powered app that allows you to capture high-quality long exposures with your smartphone.

Spectre Camera bills itself as “an AI-powered shutter for your iPhone, letting you create amazing long exposures.” In short, the app uses computer vision tech to auto-detect the kind of scene you’re shooting, stabilize the frame, and capture a long exposure by stacking multiple frames together in the same way most long-exposure apps on smartphones operate.

Auto scene detection means the ability to “erase” crowds, capture smooth water, or record light trails when the ambient light drops far enough. As a bonus, the app records the whole imaging process as a Live Photo that you can review and share, rather than just spitting out the final product.

You can learn more about the Spectre Camera app on the company’s website or by visiting the iOS app store. Unfortunately the app isn’t free, but if you’re looking to capture high-quality, hand-held long-exposures with your iPhone, $3 isn’t unreasonable.

Other interesting info from yesterday’s announcement: Instagram is the second-most downloaded Free iPhone app behind YouTube, followed by Snapchat and the wildly popular (and controversial) app TikTok, and photo manipulation app Facetune was the most downloaded Paid iPhone app of the year.

You can find the rest of the Best of 2019 apps here.

A Massive List of Winter 2020 Grants All Filmmakers Should Know About

Forget naughty or nice. Santa wants to know, how well can you explain your project in a grant application?

Turn in your elf costume, it’s time to quit your seasonal job and bet big on your film career! With some luck and some hard work on the following grants, you just might clinch one of the following doc, narrative, screenwriting, or new media opportunities of a lifetime.

As always, the following opportunities are organized by deadline—from December through February—and by category: documentaries, narratives, screenwriting, and new media. Good luck!

If you’re looking for a head-start on a different granting season, check out our most recent fall grants, spring grants, and summer grants roundups.

[Note: An asterisk next to the grant title means there is an equivalent grant for both doc and narrative.]

As always, use your best judgment when deciding to apply.

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RAID/NAS/DAS 101: Running Out of Storage Space

What do you do when your NAS/RAID/DAS is almost filled up and you need more storage? The answer probably isn’t what you think… Some DAS and NAS, like those from Synology and Drobo, let you replace smaller drives with larger drives to “add capacity.” But doing that doesn’t necessarily give you access to a meaningful amount of additional storage.

You can see how this works by playing around with the capacity calculator on the Synology or Drobo websites.

Adding two 10TB drives to a Drobo full of 8TB drives adds just under 2TB of storage at a substantial cost in drives.

What you’ll see is that in a system with five drives of the same size, you actually have to replace at least two drives to increase available storage, or three to four drives if you are using dual-drive redundancy.

Once you’re replacing three drives, you are basically replacing 60% of your drives. Replacing four drives and you’re basically building a new RAID. You aren’t gaining much storage by doing that in most instances, as you can see on the capacity calculator. Plus, pulling a drive with years worth of life in it just doesn’t make economic sense either unless you have another use for it.

So unless you have a use for your “old” drives, you might be better off just adding another NAS/RAID/DAS to your storage system.

But wait, why not just replace those old small drives with really big new drives? You can do that, but it might cost you big time. The largest capacity hard drives don’t always offer the best price per TB value.

There is a sweet spot in hard drive pricing. Currently, the sweet spot is for 6-10TB drives. Larger than that and you pay a significant premium per TB of storage. Using 12TB or larger drives to upgrade your existing NAS/DAS will cost you more money overall.

Consider the following NAS configuration:

NAS box ($344) with five 8TB drives (5 x $149) gives ~29TB of storage for ~$1,089

NAS box ($344) with five 14TB drives (5 x $430) gives ~50TB of storage for ~$2,494

Because 14TB drives are more expensive per TB, you could actually buy two of the 8TB NAS setups for less than one 14TB setup, and get more total storage in the process.

In many cases, buying a new NAS/DAS/RAID box and drives is a better option than replacing the drives in your existing setup. Of course, every setup is different, so you’ll have to run the numbers for yourself.

Another aspect to consider is the life left in your NAS/DAS/RAID case. While modern electronics can be very long-lived, I’d consider a drive case a 5-year wear item. After 5 years, not only has technology advanced significantly, you’ve also probably used up the best years of any electronic device.

So at a certain point, putting hundreds or thousands of dollars in new drives in an old case just doesn’t make sense. Downtime and failures suck and aren’t worth the risk on a large archive.

The $344 cost of a typical NAS/DAS box amortized over 5 years is about $69 a year, or $5.75 a month. For the cost of one frozen mocha a month, it’s a pretty good value for what they do.

My closing thought is that storage is like LEGOs. There are countless ways to put together a system. This is just one way to think about solving a storage problem. In the end, what matters is that the solution you choose meets your performance and cost expectations.


This is part 3 of a 3-part series. You can read part 1 here and part 2 here.


About the author: Rich Seiling is the guy his friends call when their hard drive crashes and they need to be rescued. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. He has successfully stored about a million photo files for ~20,000 of his fine art printing clients. Check out his workshop and blog at CraftingPhotographs.com and RichSeiling.com

MALEFICENT – MISTRESS OF EVIL: Jessica Norman – VFX Supervisor – MPC

In 2017, Jessica Norman explained the work of MPC on WONDER WOMAN. She talks to us today about her work on MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL.

How was the collaboration with director Joachim Rønning and Overall VFX Supervisor Gary Brozenich?
It was great to work with Gary. We had daily reviews and catch ups. The director had a clear vision for the movie and came to MPC Film for regular reviews.

What were their expectations and approach about the visual effects?
The main inspiration and direction came from the 2014 MALEFICENT movie. The brief was to create a world that everyone would recognize, but at the same time try to advance the look of creatures and environments.

How did you organize the work with your VFX Producer?
The work was split between London, Montreal, Vancouver and Bangalore. Each site had its own VFX Supervisor. Damien Stumpf in Montreal, Bryan Litson and Ferran Domenech in Vancouver and Laurent Gillet at Mill Film Montreal. I worked most closely with London Producer Thandiwe Philips, but also had regular catch ups with production and supervisors from the other sites.

Can you tell us more about the previs and postvis process?
Previs and postvis were looked after by production, and they did a great job. It really helped us to get a head start in the various builds and shot setups.

Where were various parts of the show filmed?
Pinewood Studios, with a few days of location shoots around London.

Can you elaborate on your Maleficent character work?
We did a full digi double character build for Maleficent, with various costumes that were used for CG take over and wide shots. We added CG wings to all Maleficent shots.

What were the main technical changes for this character from the first movie?
There were a lot more shots that needed wings compared to the first movie, where the character loses her wings relatively early on.

In the drama shots, it was important that the wings connected with the characters emotions. For the flying shots, we paid extra attention to the overall wing movement, the feathers and how they connected to the character and made her fly.

Can you tell us more about the creation and animation of the wings?
We used a lot of real life wing structure and anatomy reference material to build a believable set of wings that fold and move in a realistic way. The design was based on the wings from the first movie and concept artwork.

How did you create the feathers?
The feathers were created using MPC’s proprietary tool Furtility and a hair shader that gave them the silky anisotropic look.

How did you handle the challenge of the flying shots of Maleficent?
The actress and the other fey characters were filmed whilst attached to operated tuning fork rigs, on a blue screen stage. In some shots, we attached CG wings; some shots are full or partial CG takeovers. Additional overall movement was added to the characters in animation with tweaks from compositing.

Maleficent is using magic. How did you create and animate those FX elements?
Once again, the main inspiration was from the first movie. For the green magic that comes from Maleficent, we looked at how we could keep the iconic look and at the same time connect it more to the character. We emitted magic from between the feathers in her wings that travelled down to the ground and then came up around her.

Can you tell us more about the eye work for Maleficent?
The eye work for Maleficent was done in comp. We used a combination of mattes that were animated to give movement and light change

Many creatures appear during the show. How did you work with the art department to create them?
We received concepts for all the characters from the art department. Our Asset Supervisor Anelia Asparuhova worked closely with the asset team to build them all.

Can you explain in detail about their creation?
To achieve an organic and realistic look for all the faerie folk, we used a lot of real life reference. We looked at different types of mushrooms, fish, trees and frogs to name a few. The dark fey were separated in 4 different biomes – for the desert fey we based the look on eagles and condors. The jungle fey were based on different types of parrots. For the tundra fey we looked at owls and for the forest fey we looked at various dark feathered birds like crows and starlings. Each biome had a different shaped wing to suit their environment, for example the desert biome wings are wider then the rest, suitable for soaring while the jungle wings were a bit smaller, built to fly between the trees. We used Disney’s Anyma facial capture for the Pixies.

How did you handle their rigging and animation?
The animation and rigging was complex as there were so many different types of characters with different behaviours. We looked at a range of different reference material. Rigging worked closely with animation to make sure that we had all the right controls.

Can you tell us more about the crowd animation?
We used crowd for fairies, humans and fey characters. We shot mocap for the various scenes and characters. In the opening of the movie, we see all the leaves flying off a tree as prince Philip proposes to Aurora. The leaves are actually garland faeries done with our crowd tools.

The movie is full of exotic locations. What kind of references did you receive for them?
Apart from looking at reference from the first movie we looked at a lot of photography from Vietnam and China.

Can you explain in detail about the environment creation?
We built a lot of different environments for the movie. Aurora’s castle is in the centre of the moors. The lower parts of the castle and close surrounding garden were built on set at Pinewood studios. The castle has a CG extension and the garden was placed in an exotic CG landscape with tall mountains and lots of water.

For the centre of Ulstead, where the humans live, we built a castle taller than the Eiffel Tower. A modular section of the garden was created on the back lot at Pinewood studios. Various action was filmed here and then inserted into the larger CG build of Ulstead.

Mill Film built the exterior of Fey island, and some the chambers and rooms where Maleficent first meets the Fey. MPC Vancouver built the centre sections of the island where the different biomes live.

Which was the most complicated to create?
All the environments were complex. The title sequence was a particularly challenging shot. We start by the castle from the first movie. We fly by the moors, circle Ulstead and then fly back to the moors where we go into a macro close up with the tiny dew faeries. The shot ends with the pixies flying towards Auroras castle. The shot is over 3500 frames long. We split the shot in 10 parts that were later assembled.

Which sequence or shot was the most challenging?
The variety of work was challenging, but also made it fun to work on the movie.

What is your favorite shot or sequence?
There is a 360 shot that starts on the phoenix and ends on Maleficent. Not a very big impressive CG shot, but I really liked it as a shot from the first time when I saw it in a temp screening.

What is your best memory on this show?
The team was great and we had a lot of fun. I am happy that I got to meet and work with the compositing team in Bangalore towards the end of the show.

How long have you worked on this show?
Roughly 1.5 years.

What’s the VFX shot count?
2167.

What was the size of your team?
As with most projects, the team size varied through the project, and peaked at 1050.

A big thanks for your time.

WANT TO KNOW MORE?
MPC: Dedicated page about MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL on MPC website.

© Vincent Frei – The Art of VFX – 2019

The post MALEFICENT – MISTRESS OF EVIL: Jessica Norman – VFX Supervisor – MPC appeared first on The Art of VFX.

ZY Optics Unveils Mitakon 85mm f/2.8 1-5x Super Macro Lens

ZY Optics has unveiled the new Mitakon 85mm f/2.8 1-5x Super Macro Lens, a new option that wants to make it easier to get into extreme macro photography by providing “one of the longest working distance for ANY super macro lens.”

One of the challenges of super macro photography is just how close you have to get to your subject in order to achieve it. That’s all good and well if you’re shooting something static, but insects and other popular macro subjects don’t always stick around when you shove a lens barrel in their face.

That’s the problem the Mitakon lens seeks to solve with a minimum working distance of 10cm at 5x magnification and 27.2cm at 1x. Here’s a closer look at the Mitakon 85mm f/2.8 1-5x Super Macro at both 1x (25mm focal length) and 5x (85mm focal length):

The lens is made up of 12 lens elements in 8 groups, features a telecentric design for minimal focus breathing (and therefore easier focus stacking), and uses an 8-blade aperture that goes from f/2.8 down to f/32.

All of this is packed into a relatively compact lens that weighs just 750g, but in order to do this, ZY Optics had to sacrifice the ability to focus at infinity. Given the typical uses for a macro lens like this, that should be a trade-off worth making.

Here are a few official sample images from ZY Optics that were captured with the new lens:

The new Mitakon 85mm f/2.8 1-5x Super Macro Lens is available now for Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony E, Sony A, Pentax K, Micro Four Thirds, and Fuji X mounts at a retail price of $500. To learn more or see more sample images, head over to the ZY Optics website.


Image credits: All photos courtesy of ZY Optics

Shine Heroes

Shine Heroes

Federico Estol

This fun, collaborative graphic novel photobook from La Paz, Bolivia, presents the city’s 3,000 shoe shiners as heroes with superpowers who help all of local humanity. 

Although there is no single definition of participatory photography—methods, meaning and practices vary largely—the term generally describes initiatives that aim to ‘empower’, ‘give voice’ and ‘enable social change’ for (mainly) marginalized communities through photography. As Tiffany Fairey puts it in her research paper Whose Pictures Are These? Re-framing the promise of participatory photography (2015), participatory photography initiatives have become more and more mainstream and models and practices increasingly standardized.

The work and practice of Federico Estol, a photographer from Uruguay, is just one example. He refers to his work as a ‘community-based visual storytelling project’. In Shine Heroes, he works together with a group of anonymous shoe shiners in La Paz, Bolivia to create a zine that presents them as superheroes that come to the rescue whenever a shoe is dirty. The shiners must keep their line of work hidden from their own families and their ski masks give them a new shared identity.

In this interview, Federico Estol talks with Eefje Ludwig for LensCulture about the origins of the project, workshopping as a tool for a balanced and rich collaboration, and the range of impacts that projects like these can have on society.

Shine Heroes © Federico Estol

Eefje Ludwig: Let’s start from the beginning. Tell us about how this project came about?

Federico Estol: It came up over dinner when a family member told me about the situation of the shoe shiners of La Paz and the city of El Alto in Bolivia. I started my own investigation and found an amazing story of nearly three thousand shoe shiners that walk the streets daily in order to find clients. They are of all ages and over the last few years they have become a unique social phenomenon in the Bolivian capital.

This urban tribe is distinguished by wearing ski masks so they cannot be identified by acquaintances.The discrimination they face is fought with these masks; no one in their neighborhood knows what their job is. They hide it at school and even their own families think they have a different job when they go from El Alto to the city centre. They leave home as ordinary workers and store their tools and shoe polish at the associations where they have lunch and clean their hands before heading back home to El Alto.

EL: How did you begin working with the shoe shiners?

FE: My investigation led me to get to know one of the social organizations that have been producing the monthly newspaper Hormigón Armado for 16 years. Every newspaper sale helps nearly 60 families of shoe shiners to get an extra income. I thought it might be interesting for them to create a special newspaper edition concerning discrimination that would be made through a participatory process and given out with a street flyer to raise awareness among common citizens. For me, this was a way to go in the opposite direction of what the media would have asked me to do in order to cover a similar story. Ethically, it was also important to try to make the production and spread of the projects useful for all of the people involved.

Over three years I worked with them developing a wide collaboration and cooperation that in a way ended once the photobook was published—though somehow our relationship still exists as the social element of the work is very important to me.

Shine Heroes © Federico Estol

EL: How did you establish a relationship and trust with the people you were working with?

FE: The collaboration was based on providing images for the newspaper in a way that we could all take part in as actors and creators. At the beginning, while the outcome was collaborative, I found the pictures were too similar to the photographic records of an NGO. I was more interested in leaving that kind of work and producing a different, more conceptual visual style. Together, we all decided that I would take the pictures for the monthly newspaper and the organization supported me for three years.

The shoe shiners stapled the newspapers in return for the copies they would sell. They sell 6,000 copies per month and understand the importance of showing good pictures, so they cooperated by working a few Saturdays on the project. I worked as a volunteer serving mid-afternoon snacks over the first month, and afterwards we started on the photoshoots and did some workshops in order to build the story. We finally managed to design a way to work that creatively turned us into an artistic family and developed a method that enriched me as an author and also provided me with a way to face my future artistic practice.

Shine Heroes © Federico Estol

EL: So you worked with the shoe shiners for three years. To what extent was there a clear plan and goal before you started working with them? Or did this evolve over the years?

FE: The idea was to start a joint project with them by developing a visual narrative that could dignify them as people, including the activity of handing out the newspaper on the street. We started by taking portraits in daily life, while cooking or sleeping so people could see them as regular citizens. Then we realized that wearing a ski mask was associated to something dangerous or negative—even terrorism—but they didn’t want to be photographed without the mask.

On Saturdays, the shoe shiners have group meetings to discuss content for the newspaper while having a snack. In one of these meetings someone brought a very old edition of the newspaper that had a shoe shiner in a cape with the Superman symbol on his chest on the cover. That image awakened an interest to investigate the origins of that character and soon we discovered a close conceptual connection with shoe shiners. A few days later we succeeded in finding some Bolivian illustrators that were interested in conducting a workshop with us and explaining the foundations of the graphic novel.

Shine Heroes © Federico Estol

EL: How did this discovery help shape your approach?

FE: After finding this edition of the paper, we then organized a workshop to discuss the key parallels between the shoe shiner and the superhero. These included: using a disguise—the ski mask—to hide their identity; living a double life and concealing their job to family and friends; being persecuted by ‘enemies’ such as the police; using special tools (a shoe shiner’s box with cloth, brushes and shoe polish); having a hideout (the shoe shiner’s associations, where they keep their clothing and boxes safe, and wash before heading home); and finally, serving others by providing a service.

Then, all together, we built a collage storyboard on the everyday life of ‘Los Heroes del Brillo’—the ‘Shine Heroes’. This inspired the narrative for the final photobook. The pictures were taken during photoshoots in the cities of El Alto and La Paz where we drove all over town in a minibus with the shoe shiners as lead actors. In Bolivia there is a local architectural style called ‘cholets’ based on fantastical buildings inspired by the Tiahuanaco ceramics. These provided the perfect scenography to create a fantasy city we named ‘Brillolandia’.

During the photoshoots we thought it would be a good idea to pretend the shoe shiners had superpowers and use the camera flash from inside the sleeves of their jackets. They would have loved to use a laser but it was pretty difficult to get one. We used what we already had, in a very home-made way: a camera flash together with wireless cells and small mirrors. We thought that using the camera flash to pretend they had superpowers would somehow hide the ink on their fingers, something people use to see as shabby and denigrating. They also wore suits donated to the Hormigón Armado organization and, among other touches, we added smoke to the shots of the villain by placing sparklers on his arms. Making the project was very enjoyable; the group felt proud throughout the artistic process.

Shine Heroes © Federico Estol

EL: A model often used in participatory photography practices consists of a series of workshops where a facilitator introduces photography to a group and the participants start taking pictures around specific themes or issues. You also organized workshops in your project. Can you tell us why they were important to have?

FE: I conducted several workshops and I believe that it is crucial to use this process in the long term. If the process is really participatory, it requires a lot of time. Time is the variable as well as the commitment with the other group members involved. Photographers have a great responsibility to try to go beyond their own points of view and give in to those of others. Egos have no place in this method of working. I believe there has to be a plan, it has to be produced and edited collaboratively so the people portrayed have control of the message of the work and the final outcome.

EL: Can you tell us more about your working process?

FE: We developed a process to define what we wanted to create as a product for the shoe shiners against what harms them; they would like to work without covering their faces, but social prejudices do not allow them to do so. We then started to create collages of scenes, as a storyboard of the everyday lives of the ‘Shine Heroes’. This was pretty interesting as we looked at many comics and created strips with our own words. Then, they selected the buildings they liked the most as proud and wealthy Aymara people live there.

We chose our own clothes and prepared the superpowers and tested smoke sparklers. This process was very helpful for them to distance themselves from their everyday life and enjoy fiction. It took us 10 Saturdays to take pictures going all over the city in a minibus. I took the pictures but I did not act as a ‘director’; by playing and looking at the storyboard, they interpreted every sketch. We edited the raw material all together and the photobook layout was done the same way.

Shine Heroes © Federico Estol

EL: Usually, a fundamental aspect of participatory photography is that the participant controls what happens to the images or art work. How does ownership work in Shine Heroes? Can you tell us more about what has happened or what is still happening with the images?

FE: At the end, I discussed the way we were going to spread the project with the group, and explained to them how I would use it artistically, mainly in terms of the relationship with the art market and the income we might have. We created a mercantile society which means we share all the earnings from the sale of the pictures in galleries or from photography awards. Recently I was awarded €5,000 at the Portuguese contest ‘Encontros da Imagem’ and I shared half of the award with the shoe shiners’ organization. The idea is to print the photobook over time thanks to the economic support from art events, companies and other sources. I believe that when working together with people in such situations, artists should sustain their commitment for the long-term.

Shine Heroes © Federico Estol

EL: The project resulted in the production and publishing of a book. Was it a clear goal from the beginning of the project to publish a book? And can you tell us more about how the book came about and who its audience is?

FE: The final edition of the project was a special edition of their own street newspaper, edited collectively and, for the very first time, including pictures in full color so we had to increase the sales prices. Prices for a copy are equal to five shoe shiner services. Printing 6,000 copies was significant for them as they could conquer their social stigma and have a positive impact on their economy. What started as a game to fight discrimination turned into a powerful tool that unexpectedly improved their quality of life. I believe it is a great idea to create a photobook that is a testimony to their place in society transmitted onto the streets. In that way, we can show the world a new format of that kind of photobook: one that can be used as an empowering calling card. And it all comes from a two-way process between the people involved and the artist.

EL: The project has received recognition in photography festivals and prizes around the world. What value has this recognition had for the shoe shiners? And for yourself?

FE: I have already created a few photobooks and I have always been concerned with getting them known outside the photography world. The project ended with a publication they distributed in the streets, inspired by the newspaper they have been selling for 16 years. Our special edition was designed to be distributed in the streets of Bolivia and during this year it was one of the selected projects of the Aperture Foundation Paris Photo Awards. It also won the Cosmos Arles PDF Awards. The series was nominated for the Prix Pictet 2019, won the Emergentes award in the Portuguese festival Encontros Da Imagem and has participated in more than 15 festivals around the world.

Aside from all of this recognition, the most important thing is the fact that we have created an artistic project that has helped the families of 60 shoe shiners. Furthermore, this process allowed us to use photography as a powerful tool against discrimination. All of this was created in a participative way: an act of resistance against the ways that this story is usually visualized.

Shine Heroes © Federico Estol

EL: As the project is very collaborative, how would you describe your own role in Shine Heroes?

FE: I like to see myself as a medium between the world of visual communication and social causes. I let the experience and group connection conduct the whole process to achieve a final work that both makes sense and will be useful for society. I think that contemporary photography that works with fictional elements tends to move away from social issues and in this way, we waste opportunities to collaborate positively and in a direct way.

This project allowed me to understand that amateur photographers have a great potential to provide ideas and actually break the way visual artists see their work; participatory projects require getting rid of what you feel inside and to give your creativity over in open dialogues with others.

I will keep working on this mixture of photography and poetical speech as part of a group of several artists and a social group that wants to address and explore all kinds of inequality.

Shine Heroes © Federico Estol

EL: Participatory photography initiatives generally promise to empower and enable social change for marginalized communities through photography. How do you feel about the term and practice of participatory photography?

FE: I think participatory photography is a mode of social activism. Here in Latin America, diverse realities coexist and the amount of unexplored histories is a unique characteristic of visual artists born on this continent. Latin American reality has been stereotyped: the media only shows poverty and danger. People who are born here and make visual work should fight against this. It is imperative to use the great capacity of art to transform negative social values through a deep reflection that brings communities into artistic processes.

EL: So what’s next? Is the project completely finalized?

FE: We are now launching a second edition of 6,000 copies of Shine Heroes to be sold on the streets of Bolivia. We wanted other artists to participate by editing their own images for the cover of the monthly newspaper. Moreover, there are some postcards that we also sell at higher prices and we have already published five editions of 1,000 copies. The income from the postcards will be used to get health insurance for all the shoe shiners and their families.

I am sure I will continue using this kind of artistic practice in my following long-term projects as I have learned so much from the families of the ‘Shine Heroes.’ It is not just about the project but also about how a final outcome can empower a community in the short term. This commitment is now the backbone of my artistic career.


Editor’s note: You can buy your own copy of Shine Heroes online.

Enjoy more great photography:

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