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Anamorphic on a Budget – Vistascope 16mm

January 21, 2018

The Vistascope or Delrama 16 is the 8mm’s bigger brother. Same principles, bigger glass. It allows for better results with cameras that have bigger sensors.

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I’m Tito Ferradans and this week we’ll be going over the big version of the Vistascope. I already reviewed the 8mm version, so I’ll refer back to that video now and then. The size of this adapter is much friendlier than the baby one, allowing for better shots and not-so-restrictive focal lengths. Diopters are still a must and the prism design is responsible for killing off oval bokeh and most of anamorphic flares. You still get a 1.5x squeeze, which is the dream stretch factor for many users and this STRONG dreamy feel when the lens isn’t so stopped down.

OVERVIEW
Delrama is another popular name for this very same adapter, and they were all made by the Dutch company Old Delft. As the 8mm version, this is a square lens based on mirrors and prisms to achieve the squeeze. This is a focus through adapter, which means its focus is fixed between 4m – 12ft – and infinity. That being said, focusing is done on the taking lens, and without diopters, this adapter is dead on the water regarding close focus.

Still a light build, the Vistascope 16mm weighs 275g, which goes super safe on a Rapido clamp. For the front, I made a bigger version of my 3d-printed clamp combined with a 77mm blank filter. You can find the download link in the description below.

PRICE and AVAILABILITY
The Vistascope 16mm is quite hard to find in good condition because of the age of the mirror and any misuse it might have faced before you. You can get it for an OK price though, from around $180-330 off eBay.

RESOLUTION
As you’ve seen in my fine-tuning video, my adapter required some adjustments before getting sharp focus. These were the charts BEFORE the adjustment, and now AFTER it. The lens performs well throughout, without much quality variation between center and corners.

FLARES
There are some streak flares, but they’re not attached to the light source. They come up according to reflections. Plus there’s a lot of glow, glare and haze. Artifacts galore!

SENSOR COVERAGE
I wasn’t able to clear 2.4:1 on full frame on either 40mm and 50mm. At 85mm I was able to barely clear the 2.66:1 frame, so I’d stick to S35 sensors for more taking lens options.

I like the crazy artifacts, reflections, and unusual flares introduced by this lens, but the fact that I can only use it under strong lighting conditions make it tough to work with. Smaller sensors will be able to achieve better results, just like its 8mm sister. The advantages of this lens is that it creates a unique look, even among anamorphics. It gives the footage a very dreamy texture – not only because it’s soft! hahaha! It’s like it comes with a strong built-in diffusion filter. I would love to shoot some artsy, flashbacky sequences with it – pretty much like the opening tests. Being light makes it easy to lug around and being square turns alignment into a walk in the park.

If you liked this video, be sure to hit the “like” button below, and share it with your friends. Before you go, don’t forget to subscribe, as there’s always more anamorphics to talk about. If you want, you can support this channel on Patreon and help making it better, with more lenses and more videos – besides all the cool rewards. I’m Tito Ferradans and I’ll see you next week.

Anamorphic

Anamorphic on a Budget – SLR Magic Anamorphot 1.33x-40 Compact

January 14, 2018

Is third time the charm for SLR Magic making 1.33x adapters? The Compact aims to shrink your setup size and time even more, with a decently low price as well!

USEFUL LINKS:

All the RED links on this post are part of eBay’s Partner Network, so if you purchase anything through them, you’re helping me to keep this project going.

You can support this project on Patreon. Make your contribution and help the Anamorphic Cookbook!

I think I did SLR Magic wrong when I used the Russian set as taking lenses for the previous tests. I didn’t have some of the Contax Zeiss back then, but now that I do, either the Compact Anamorphot is much better than its predecessors or the taking lenses affected the previous ones a great deal. On this one, for day time I had no issues focusing with any of the tested focal lengths and I was able to quickly find sharpness fiddling with the normal-near ring as well as the taking lens’ focus ring. At low light I still got some diamond shapes here and there, but when I found focus, the image sharpened up alright.

OVERVIEW
The SLR Magic Anamorphot 1.33x-40 Compact – quite a long name, right? – is SLR Magic’s THIRD take on a 1.33x adapter, announced at this year’s NAB, back in April. This is the smallest and lightest one yet, at 244g.

It features 52mm threads at the back to attach to various taking lenses and 62mm threads at the front, for smaller (and cheaper!) diopters.

Alignment is set just like the previous version, by reverse rotating the ring on the rear threads until it locks against the taking lens. It’s very simple and intuitive and I think it’s something that other adapters could use as a reference.

Its design is reminiscent of the Century Optics adapter, with a small body and square optics and focusing done mostly by the taking lens. The difference is while the Century has fixed focus between 4m and infinity, struggling for closer focus, the Compact has the Near/Normal dial which allows you to fine tune your focus range (just like the big Century WS-13). This improves image quality considerably when aiming at objects at close range down to 0.8m. If you wanna get closer than that, I would recommend diopters anyway.

The square glass and lesser squeeze translate into subtle oval bokeh which needs to be pushed through the use of diopters.

PRICE and AVAILABILITY
When it comes to buying these babies, eBay seems to be the worst place to go, The Compact is readily available at B&H for North America and UK Digital for Europe. Something I fail to understand is how pricy this lens gets when sold on Europe. On North America it retails for $500 but for our old-world counterparts, it goes for $750.

RESOLUTION
The center of the image is pretty decent at any aperture, but the falloff to the edge blurriness is directly related to how stopped down your taking lens is. Wide open, things go blurry rather fast. The Compact is also not a huge fan of longer lenses, and I would cap my range at 85mm.

FLARES
Did you actually expect NOT to see insanely saturated flares? On some of my lenses, it created this cross-type flare, with very strange edges, and in some others, normal, overly blue streaks. I posted a tutorial on how to tweak the hue on these flares a while ago. Check it out!

SENSOR COVERAGE
For sensor coverage, the size of the front optics and how recessed they are on the taking lens matters very much. I got unacceptable results while using a 35mm but the frame cleaned up nicely at 40mm with Canon’s pancake. I wanted to test a 50mm just to be sure vignette wouldn’t come back due to recessed optics.

OVERALL NOTES

If you just got here, I recommend checking back on the older SLR Magic episodes but before you go do that, don’t forget to subscribe and hit the like button. If you have any questions, shoot them in the comments below. I’m Tito Ferradans and I’ll see you next week.

Anamorphic

Anamorphic Chop Shop – ReAlign Tool

December 24, 2017

Here’s my parting gift to 2017: an After Effects preset all rigged up to quickly fix or lessen lens misalignment. Just plug and play!

USEFUL LINKS:

Place the Preset in the right folder!

WINDOWS: C:/Program Files/Adobe/After Effects /Support Files/Plug-ins or /Presets
OSX: Applications/Adobe After Effects /Plugins or /Presets

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

All the RED links on this post are part of eBay’s Partner Network, so if you purchase anything through them, you’re helping me to keep this project going.

You can support this project on Patreon. Make your contribution and help the Anamorphic Cookbook!

Tito Ferradans back for a last minute present. Also, what kind of wannabe web-celeb would I be if I didn’t lie, saying the last post was the actual last? In the description of this video you can download the After Effects preset for the ReAlignment Tool. It’s nothing fancier than a corner pin effect with a few expressions and a slider control tied together to make your workflow easier.

Install it by dropping it in the correct folder _ say folder _

The process for using it is: bring the footage into After Effects, stretch it out on a composition and drag the Post-Alignment Tool from the Effects tab onto your footage layer. In the effect controls, drag the slider to the right or left. This will skew your image proportionally in either direction until you find it’s looking aligned.

This won’t work with intense misalignment and you will lose some resolution in the process. For me, the best scenario is using this tool with 2x stretch footage that I’m cropping to 2.4:1. Since I’m cropping the sides, the edges revealed by the corner pin never become a problem.

Alright, that was it, your Christmas present from me. Enjoy, have fun, I don’t know, just fix your damn footage. Like the video to counter the haters and subscribe to the channel because we’re back in the first weekend of January with the SLR Magic Compact Anamorphot review. Happy holidays! Tito Ferradans out.

Anamorphic

2017 Wrap

December 17, 2017

This is the last video of the year and I’m gonna start a tradition of reviewing important events of the past and set milestones for the future.

USEFUL LINKS:

All the RED links on this post are part of eBay’s Partner Network, so if you purchase anything through them, you’re helping me to keep this project going.

You can support this project on Patreon. Make your contribution and help the Anamorphic Cookbook!

Tito Ferradans here for the last video of this year. I’m not discussing any specific gear, but quickly going over what’s the plan for 2018 and some things I didn’t talk about around here.

First of all, in October I was approved to become a permanent resident here in Canada. That means this channel is not my sole source of income. It’s still not economically viable to place all my chips on the channel, and now that I can work, I’ll be doing that a lot. That might affect the frequency of posts. I’m gonna try and keep it once a week, but I might push back to every two weeks because of work. I do have plenty of partially shot and edited episodes to start rolling out on the first week of January, though.

This year I started taking my gear more seriously. After two years of slow-pace improvement, I went full-on with modding my Contax Zeiss set and upgrading it. I switched from the 28/2.8 to the Hollywood 2.0, also the 35/2.8 to the 1.4 version, even the 135/2.8 went up a stop, for 2.0. Lastly I added the 21/2.8, 60/2.8 Macro and 15/3.5 to the set. Among all these changes, Ron, at Simmod lens started selling 80mm front rings for cheap prices and with great quality, so I went for it as well. This set is now the official taking lens set for all reviews and tests, and I’m putting it up for rent next year. I was also able to get crazy cheap Nanuk cases at Hardcases.ca – which is something I avoided all my life.

The other thing is I sold a lot of gear – and I recommend you do the same. I’m not a collector, even though I get carried away sometimes. The goal is to use the lenses, not have them sitting on a shelf until I find the one project which is perfect for them, right? I sold all of my adapters and single focus solutions – including the Rectilux HCDNA. The only anamorphic adapters that remain right now are the two Iscoramas. I was looking at the line up of lenses I have reviewed already and there are very few gaps in there still, so I expect to buy less and less adapters moving forward.

Having less reviews means the content in the videos will change a bit. Since the start I’ve focused on practical aspects of shooting. How every lens performs, plus some tips and tricks along the way. These are all great for those of you who already knows what anamorphic is and how things are supposed to work. I’m now gonna aim for setting a baseline of what is shooting anamorphic, why we do it, what’s good and what’s bad about it, what are diopters and how they work, and so on. There are plenty of people out there who are dying for a better way into understanding the hype around anamorphics – as well as start shooting -, and there’s no such way yet online, which is why anamorfaking draws so much attention: because it jumps into the universe of spherical lenses, which everyone understands. I promise the videos will be interesting even for those who think they know how it all works.

In 2017 the interest around anamorphics has soared to new levels. Our group on facebook more than tripled its size in the last five months, Panasonic has put out the GH5 and its open gate anamorphic goodness, SLR Magic released yet another anamorphot, Atlas came true at NAB, promising an affordable 3-lens set for a fraction of a pro set usually costs, plus plenty of mods and experiments show up in the community every month. Yet, there are still a lot of people asking “What’s the best lens?”, “What’s the difference between 16-D, 16-H, 16-C…?”, or “how wide can I go?”, which demonstrates that even though interest shot up, understanding hasn’t improved yet. And it’s ok. It took me five years to be able to guess qualities of any given lens, to learn all the names and try to decipher their meanings, and to build the anamorphic calculator.

This hike in interest created a spike in demand as well which blew up the used lenses market. Every once in a while we have an angry post about how the prices today are ludicrous compared to a year ago, or even six months. I don’t expect prices to go down, at least not for the vintage lenses. Their numbers will only shrink over time. The only company putting out affordable adapters these days is SLR Magic and they clearly can’t keep up with the market’s growth or expectations in terms of image quality. Hopefully our expansion in numbers will lead to more initiatives of making anamorphics for small filmmakers like you and I. For the time being, all we can have is hope. Anamorphic is still an exclusive format, in the sense that it excludes shooters, instead of bringing them in.

This is what this channel has always been about, leveling the field so everyone has the same level of access to knowledge. Everything is open and free – which is one of the big reasons I was all in for the Anamorphic on a Budget event in Amsterdam. We need more of those. Great job Tomas, Tim and Budgetcam.

This is all I had for now, so if you like the direction this is going, please like the video! For the folks that dislike the video, please be clear on what you dislike! Is it me, is it how I present the content, is it the lens I’m testing, or are you just trying to put me down? Every video has two or three dislikes and I never see anyone complaining in the comments, so I get confused. If you got any complaints, please use the comments and let’s have a chat about it! If you wanna hear more about my rehoused set of LOMO Squarefronts that’s coming from Van Diemen early next year, I recommend you subscribe. I’m Tito Ferradans and I wish you happy holidays and a great New Year. See you in 2018!

Day-to-Day

Not THE Director.

December 15, 2017

Every time I mention I don’t really want to be THE Director, people start losing their minds. “BUT WHY NOT?! Don’t you wanna be the boss?”

That’s exactly the point. There’s no desire deep inside of me to be the boss of anyone. As I mentioned on my Mentors post, I have a problem with authority and it would be hypocritical of me to want to tell others what to do.

Let’s see if we’re on the same page: when you think of the director’s role in the making of a film, what comes to mind? Is the director a genius who comes up with every single great idea you see on the screen; a person that single-handedly runs the film and has answers for every question during pre-production, production and post? Is the director a star; someone to be feared and honored to simply be in their presence? I think you can see where I’m going. When portrayed this way, it’s easy to notice how many expectations exist surround the figure of the director.

It makes me wonder why we encourage this archetype of director. While in film school I was taught the director is like “The King of the Film”, and all the kids are hyped to sit on that throne. The word “king” to me sounds more like a tyrant than a fair ruler. Being told you’re the “king” and you have limitless power is more likely to bring out your best or your worst? Historically speaking, it’s been the worst. Tyrannical regimes benefit a select few while the majority labors away – and we’re taught this is the way things work.

I don’t believe this is the way things are supposed to be. I believe this is how things have been so far: the Director is the Man in Charge. This is why I didn’t want to be a Director. I don’t wanna be telling everyone else what to do, I don’t wanna give orders, I don’t want to impose my way of thinking onto others. I don’t want the glory or the fame, I just want to make movies and movies are not made by one person. They’re made by groups of people. Large groups of people.

Groups don’t need bosses, they need leaders. People that inspire each other to go further, to think harder, to be more creative. People that won’t punish each other when things go wrong, but will share the blame, people that are more comfortable putting themselves at risk than putting others. I dream of a film set where impossible things come true and nobody gets hurt in the process; that the cast and crew will go home after shooting and think “that was an awesome day and I’m happy to be here again tomorrow”.

At Langara, I went into the directing stream. On the second semester my displeasure with what was expected of a director was at new heights. I just didn’t want to be that person. Being told I had to only made me more disappointed. It got to a point when I scheduled a meeting with Sara, our Advanced Directing instructor, to openly tell her about my directing crisis. What I heard from her played a big part on how I faced directing after the meeting and motivated me to write this post, months later, while continue to pursue being a director.

Collaboration is key. There’s simply no way one person has all the good ideas. As directors we need to be open to listening to our department heads, just like they must be open to listening to the folks under them. During the pre-production meetings for “Up & Away” there were plenty of questions I didn’t have an answer to, and each of those was a different problem. Acknowledging I didn’t have a solution made more people rally up to fix the problems and work it out together. “Directing is asking questions” is a common sentence to hear when it comes to working with actors, but for me it turned out asking questions has been the solution in every front. “How can we get this many people?”, “can we really light flares under a covered area?”, “do you feel safe building this structure?” and, most of all, “can you guys give me a hand with this?”.

Asking questions makes the people around us think and ask other questions in return. It makes us all listen. Listening to our team and trusting their judgement will get the set running on its own. Also, how could we not trust our team, right? We picked them personally! Listening and thinking are underrated traits these days. There’s an urge for knowing all the answers from the get-go. there’s shame for asking questions in fear they are stupid, and and an unhealthy eagerness in being told what to do. It empties us from responsibility. If it goes wrong, “it was so-and-so that told me to do it”. It’s scary to be responsible for something because suddenly you have to care about it.

There are many advantages to this shared-responsibility style of directing but I’ll only mention one: when things go wrong – and they will -, instead of everyone looking up at us, “THE Directors”, to give them a solution, they’ll start solving the problem themselves because they know we trust them. The problem is this is still a very distant dream. I can count in one hand the number of sets I’ve been that people worked like this.

One of the obstacles in the way of a mindset change is education itself. Lots of aspiring directors want to be stars, want to be the next Tarantino or Scorcese. They want to call the shots and school says “this is what you’re gonna be when you come here!”. Learning institutions should focus more on the process than the result, as hard as that might be. Outside of school, it’s our job not to take all the credit if a film goes well. It fills me with joy when I tell people I didn’t have a clue of how we were doing certain scenes in “Up & Away” and my co-producers came up with brilliant solutions, or when the sun was dipping behind a building, killing our key light, and our gaffer saved the shot by finding us sunlight after we told him to let it go. Unfortunately you didn’t get to see the smile on everyone’s faces on set for these spontaneous efforts that elevate the quality of the film. I did see them though. It’s a collective high and it outshines being the head of the project. If we start to make films people are happy to work on, I believe other people will be happy watching them too.

It was only after “Up & Away” was done and delivered, after I got feedback from multiple people on the team about how production went, and after a few more long conversations with Sara I figured I want to be a director because I like working towards dreams. Don’t you?

Anamorphic

Anamorphic on a Budget – Vistascope 8mm

December 10, 2017

The Vistascope is a different anamorphic. It doesn’t use cylindrical glass, but prisms to achieve compression. This leads to some aesthetic differences and an interesting drop in prices. Being a baby anamorphic, portability is a key feature in this one.

USEFUL LINKS:

All the RED links on this post are part of eBay’s Partner Network, so if you purchase anything through them, you’re helping me to keep this project going.

You can support this project on Patreon. Make your contribution and help the Anamorphic Cookbook!

Tito Ferradans here for an unusual review. The Vistascope 8mm is a baby anamorphic that has a very different design than other adapters. Keep watching for the explanation. In terms of performance, we’re talking about a focus-through adapter designed for tiny film. For that reason, I switched to the A7s 2’s 2.2x crop mode as I couldn’t get full frame coverage no matter what. By itself, this is not an easy-to-work-with adapter. The magic happens when you add diopters in front of it. Due to its design, this adapter doesn’t deliver oval bokeh, and its flares are unlike others.

OVERVIEW
This is a square adapter. Yep, you heard it right. This lens is square. It has a prism design where two mirror surfaces are responsible for squeezing the footage by a 1.5x factor. That is why bokeh isn’t stretched and flares are non-standard.

Old Delft, in Holland, made two versions of the Vistascope – or Delrama. They had this one for 8mm cameras and projectors, and a bigger one for 16mm film. These adapters are focus-through, with focus locked at 4m – or 400cm, as stated on the top of the lens – which translates to 12ft, all the way to infinity. So you do all of your focusing on the taking lens and you have some leeway for racking focus.

This thing is tiny, and weighs only 105g. For mounting it I followed the steps of Julian, over at EOSHD, and made a clamp out of a 49mm lens cap.

In order to attach diopters to it, I made a custom piece that you can 3d-print and glue to a 49mm step ring. You slide it into the slot at the front of the lens and a spring mechanism holds it in place. Download it here!

PRICE and AVAILABILITY
The main issue with these adapters is that mirrors fade with time, so it’s hard to find one in perfect condition. Keep that in mind when you’re looking for one of these. Since these Vistascopes are so strange and restrictive – baby size! – they tend to go cheap, between $150-300. Some even come with the original case!

RESOLUTION
You didn’t actually expected this to be tack sharp, did you? The same way it happened to the baby Isco, this is a good time to have a small sensor camera, since the quality loss becomes less noticeable.

-speak about different apertures-

FLARES
No streak flares at all! Sort of. Some streaks show up, but they’re quite different, plus you also get some reflections from the sides, since they’re not blacked out. I kind of like the dirty look it creates, I can’t wait to see how much more interesting this will be on the bigger version.

SENSOR COVERAGE
Baby anamorphics will require you to go quite long on bigger sensors. On crop mode – S35 – I was only able to clear 2.4:1 aspect ratio past 50mm. That’s why I shot the test video on 2.2x crop and slow motion! If you want solid numbers, check out my calculator and figure your setup.

Considering how much they cost, I’d say that’s pretty good quality and it’s a worthy investment if you have the time to constantly swap diopters.

This whole baby talk freaks me out, so I’m happy to say this is it for now! I was able to get my hands on the big sister for this Vistascope and I’ll have a review for that up soon too AND I’m working on experiments to restore the mirrors to their original state, so subscribe if you wanna watch that! Let me know if you have any questions on the comments, and join the crew on Patreon to decide which videos you want to see done first – besides all the other rewards. Ferradans, out.

Day-to-Day

For Better Work.

November 27, 2017

If you have ever worked for free, this might be of your interest. I’ve lived and breathed film long enough to learn how to tell bullshit from honesty, and we all know there’s bullshit everywhere. The reason we all know is because we come up with our own crap, all the time. If you don’t think so, better stop now – either stop with the bullshit or stop reading this post.

We have all had more than one account of someone coming up to you and saying “this is gonna be a great opportunity in your career”, or “this will look great in your portfolio”, or “there’s gonna be others after this one”. These are all versions of something I’m gonna call “the deal of a lifetime”. By promising you the future, your employer convinces you the present is no big deal. We’re all poor right now, aren’t we? It feels good to dream of a plentiful future while we toil away. I’ve been there, I’ve done that. We pride ourselves in the stories of the money we’re owed (and unlikely to be ever paid). That’s our elusive future, the one we’re constantly promised yet never delivered.

We do things we hate in the hopes of being handsomely rewarded for it. We keep thinking these sacrifices are gonna pay out one day. Our desire for this future to be true, combined with the stories of success that populate our surroundings, is what perpetuates the cycle. EVERY film school tells stories of underdogs who rose to fame and fortune, of nobodies that turned millionaires overnight. “Film is an inclusive industry” you’ll hear over and over. The film industry is the American Dream that failed to die. Actually, that’s not true. The film industry is the failed American Dream that has enough money to disguise its shortcomings and repeated failures. It’s cheaper for the business as a whole to spend money advertising that all is well and continue to siphon dreamers like us, underpaid and overworked, than to admit its flaws and reward people properly. Later on, this environment will allow you to exploit someone else, the same way you were exploited throughout your career.

As I went through film school once more, less dreamy this time, I struggled trying to understand why our environment is so based on the concept of “you trying to sell how YOUR project is important to ME while I know full well that you don’t really mean what you say”; I know you’re the one getting the better deal; I know that, in your head, my role can be replaced while yours can’t; I know in the end, when reward comes, you’re the one reaping it while I watch from the distance. I don’t understand if I pretend to believe you as a way of justifying my poor choice – this bad investment of my time – or, if after being hammered over and over that this “is good for my career”, I actually believe it might be my big break.

It has taken me ten years of no big breaks to figure out some things for myself when it comes to work: Deals of a lifetime don’t come dressed as deals of a lifetime. It drives me crazy whenever someone tries to sell me their project as such deal for my career. I’ll know it when the time comes – IF it ever comes. I’m not too eager for the deal of a lifetime and this is why I prefer the honest take on work. If you want my services for little money, be upfront about it and let me decide if I want to join the team or not. Don’t try to convince me with some bullshit reason because we all know it’s a lie. Make sacrifices too. The last two sets I worked on, my superiors were getting less money than me because they cared more about the project, and that made me respect them tenfold.

I see a film set as a tiny functioning society and I don’t feel like putting my chips on a society that is the same or worse than the one we have on our daily lives. By that I mean a society in which there’s the top dog who eats steak for lunch and gets paid by the minute while some kid stays up for fifteen hours in the rain so they can get minimum wage. I believe the hierarchy is necessary on a film set and I know some jobs are more stressful or require more prep than others, but I don’t believe in the current wage gap. The system as it is only favors the type of competition in which people sabotage each other and don’t own up to their mistakes because they’re afraid of being fired or, even worse, blacklisted.

There’s a culture of putting your head down and trusting the system that your time will come. This only perpetuates the issues we have now. The unraveling we witness today is a consequence of empowering people who were silenced in the past. These aren’t new problems. They’re entrenched in our industry, remnants of a period based on inequality. Keeping your head down doesn’t encourage discussion or change. Discussion and change are the future, and much needed in the film industry.

I love film and I don’t want to change the magic that shrouds it. I am changing my approach to making films though, and so should you if want a better working environment for the years to come. When we’re the ones making the rules, let’s not repeat what we were told and what we went through. Let’s question it; Question how things can be improved and made better for everyone involved. Let’s bring to set the same magic we experience when watching a good film because, let’s face it, we spend way more time making films than watching them.