This morning someone tried to break into our house by punching in a window screen. Ariana and I were both still in here and we heard a loud noise, but we dismissed it as Finnegan – the cat – does that sometimes. When getting ready to leave, Ariana headed for her bike and found… nothing. The bike was gone, probably taken by the same person who punched in our window screen and bailed after the noise.

At first I thought our other roommate had taken it to work, since both of her bikes were still in the garage. Then we noticed all the bike locks were accounted for, and the distinctive stuff about Ariana’s bike – mudflaps, lights, blue helmet – was in a neat pile by the gate. That was when I noticed the skewed window screen and linked it to the weird noise. It was at 10h30am.

Ariana immediately called Vancouver Police’s non-emergency number and reported the situation. Since both of us were leaving soon, VPD said officers would stop by around 2pm. In the meantime, we set up an alert for the stolen bike on Project 529′s website and shared it on facebook. 529 Garage is a website that links owners and bikes and is connected to Vancouver’s Police Department. It’s an easy way to prove ownership in case of stolen bikes, since they track model, serial number and include pictures of the bike. Their registration fee is $20, and after today I believe it’s more than worth it.

With the alert out we headed our way. On the train I contacted our landlord to tell her about what happened and if she had any valuable advice. She mentioned that the house across from ours – in the alley where the bike was taken – had security cameras pointed to our garage. She also said she would be stopping by later to catch up on the situation and help us with making sure that no one would try to break in again. On facebook I got good tips from a friend – keep an eye on craigslist, check Hastings and Main, look out for shitty paint jobs, as the thief might’ve sprayed the bike to change its look, and DON’T engage with the thief if you find the bike: call the police.

On the way home, we were rooting for that security camera footage. Hopes up, just to be crushed down by finding out it was a fake, an empty shell to scare away burglars and thieves. I guess we should get some of these too.

It was around 5pm and the police hadn’t shown up yet, so Ariana called them again, and they said the officers would stop by at around 7pm. In the meantime we went to the garage, grabbed everything valuable that was stored there and brought it all inside.

By 6h30pm, Natalia and I were trying to cheer up Ariana with ice cream and brigadeiro, talking about the crap life throws our way and she told us the sentimental story about that bike – her first prized possession, bought with her own money, and that she carried everywhere she moved. That part we knew about, since we were the ones who helped putting the bike back together after she brought it, in pieces, from the US. Things were looking bleak.

As soon as we leave the room, Ariana goes “GUYS, I FOUND MY BIKE”. It was on craigslist. No doubt it was hers. The address on the map was five blocks from our house. She replied to the ad, playing it cool, asking if the bike was still available. She was calling the police again when someone knocked on our door. Two officers, Rebecca and Caroline, were here to help us. Ariana went over the entire plot with them, showed the listing, we went to the backyard, checked all the times for the noise and bike theft, looked around and headed back inside. Upon leaving, they said to contact the non-emergency number if her email on craigslist got a reply and mention the case number so they would be updated.

In the meantime we were desperately looking at the photos on the craigslist post, trying to figure out where the bike would be, and checking with google maps the houses in that area, placing bets on which of them was holding the bike and coming up with plans to get it out. We never intended to actually go there, but, man, we were so angry. Natalia and Ariana finally agreed on which house they thought the photos were taken.

It had been about hour since her email, so we decided to create a fake email account and email the person again, low-balling the price. Bruno then took the alias of Todd, and sent a message offering $270 for the $300 listing. He got a reply in a few minutes, including the seller’s name, address – the girls were right about the house! – and phone number. We were all exultant. Ariana called the police again, while Natalia called the officer directly – leaving her a trumped voice mail as Ariana’s call was picked up. They called her back and said they would stop by in a few minutes to brief us in what was going to happen. They also instructed us to set up a meeting with the seller, at the near skytrain station, at 10pm, and, in the message, say we would text him upon arrival. Todd was doing great spy work, posing as a West End dude casually stopping by East Van to grab a bike after work.

The meeting was set and the posting was deleted from craigslist. Officers Rebecca and Caroline showed up a little after 9pm to get all the information and proof they needed to check if that was Ariana’s bike. Ariana also wrote a statement about what happened, in detail, including info on the bike like serial number and a Chicago-bike-shop sticker. Go Village Cycle Center!

By 9h40 we were still waiting on the plainclothes cops who were going to pose as Todd and his buddy. I started to worry they would miss the 10pm meeting, but they quickly showed up and got all the notes they needed to check the bike. With ten minutes to spare, they all left and the four of us (Bruno, Natalia, Ariana and I) were in a state of extreme mixed emotions, from “THEY WILL DEFINITELY GET THE BIKE BACK!” to “what if the guy doesn’t show up and the bike is gone for good?” and everything in between those two scenarios.

After the most painful thirty minutes, we heard a knock on the door and Ariana rushed down to get it. Officers Rebecca and Caroline were there. With her bike. It turns out the guy said he bought the bike this morning from another guy and without any evidence, it’s impossible to charge him for stealing it. The difference is that now he has a record for possession of stolen goods, and if that pattern repeats, well, too bad for him. They also said Ariana did all the right things with contacting the non-emergency number, playing as instructed and letting the police sort out the situation without trying to solve it by herself.

The whole thing felt way longer than twelve hours but, there it was, solved by 10h30pm.

Later on we got another message from the seller to Todd, our coverup identity, saying he learned his lesson and pointing to another craigslist post where he said he got the bike from. Doing some light digging on the other post’s name and phone number, Bruno found a guy selling all sorts of crap for ludicrous prices out of a basement on Kingsway, not too far from here. The stuff ranged from graphics cards for $5 to full working computers and bikes. A distribution center for stolen goods, apparently. Ariana forwarded all this information to the police, it would be good if more people could recover their things.

All in all we got very lucky with the whole turn of events and VPD didn’t let us down. All of us had a really hard time going to sleep after this was over, for all the ups and downs along the day and the adrenaline still pumping in our stream.

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE!

Ever since I reviewed the Isco 16:9 Video Attachment I, the only 1.33x anamorphic I was missing in the reviews was SLR Magic’s. Now that I have it here, I wrote a very simple and straightforward script then got a ton of help (and patience!) from my friends while shooting this side project mixing all the 1.33x attachments in unmarked shots to see if we can actually spot the difference between them. Thank you very much Nicko and Ariana, you are the best.

Shooting this was all kinds of crazy since I was constantly swapping taking lenses, anamorphics and diopters (every single shot!) and keeping track of which shot had which combination was a complex task but not more challenging than shooting it all in a single Saturday afternoon. It was a fun project and also my first time shooting with Rob’s Kinemini, so I took advantage of the S35 sensor + SpeedBooster to match full frame and shot it all in 4K Cinema DNGs without having to worry about crop factors and math (the resulting crop factor was 1.066x, which for me can be considered 1x).

Telling which shot used which lens, without looking at my notes ended up being much more difficult than I expected. A few of them are easy to spot thanks to more visible features – SLR Magic’s super blue flares, the Panasonic’s super wideness and poor edges, the Isco’s oval bokeh – but when these features are not so visible in the shot, it’s blind luck trying to tell which lens was used. Check the list below for full specs. How many did you get right and which ones are your favorite shots?

Before I end this video, I would like to point out the amazing score composed by my friend João Gabriel Rodrigues, he was my classmate back at Film School, and he did an outstanding job coming up with the music from the most bizarre set of notes I ever wrote about what I wanted for the mood in this project. If you’re looking for good music, he’s a freelancer and works super fast, so you should definitely get in touch!

What did you think of this alternate method for reviewing lenses and putting them against each other? Leave a comment below, subscribe to the channel and drop by the blog for the extra anamorphic content! Ferradans out.

Also, here are the reviews for all the lenses used in this test
Century Optics 16:9 Ratio Converter
Century Optics WS-13
Panasonic LA7200
Isco-Optic 16:9 Video Attachment I
SLR Magic Anamorphot 1.33x-50

Read the rest of this entry »


WATCH THE VIDEO HERE!

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.

If you wanna take a shot at getting one of these purple lenses, join the raffle below! As the master at VintageLensesForVideo says, “Giveaway is open to everyone, everywhere in the world. Good luck!”. The lens is Nikon mount (nothing an adapter can’t handle) and has a focal reducer at the back. It’s a different lens than the one in the tutorial and is a little beaten up. Aperture has a few quirks, you gotta loosen the entire barrel to rotate it, but it’s still a great lens to play around, disassemble and learn how it works. Focus is great, so if you just want it wide open for maximum craziness, this is the one for you!

Besides that, I still have some available for sale (you can choose from Green, Amber and Purple), because I need to recoup the money spent in this tutorial (three Helios lenses, cans of spray, oval apertures, polish). Get your own righ here on eBay!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tito Ferradans here for a lengthy video involving some serious modding and unique looks. Summer is here and DIY projects are up. A few weeks ago I was blown away by a few photos posted by one Victor Danell with a modified Helios 44. His process was to “polish” the glass elements with a strong abrasive and sand the inside of the barrel in order to increase how light bounces around. The resulting effect is a light and wonderful glow to the brighter areas of the frame. It’s an effect I was trying to re-create in post since forever and having the opportunity to do it in-camera was just too much to resist. Then I pushed the concept a bit further, painted some things inside the lens, replaced the aperture and added a flare filter inside the lens as well.

What are you gonna need for this process: a lens wrench, Helios 44-2, metal polish (I used Autosol, following Danell’s instructions), a piece of cloth, some sandpaper (I used 100 because I did the whole thing by hand), masking tape, a can of metal paint, transparent tape, sharpie markers and thin fishing line. I highly recommend you take photos along the process so you know what goes where and to be able to put the lens back together. There are a couple of videos around on how to disassemble and clean the Helios, so this isn’t one of them. I didn’t fully disassemble the lens, just took out the minimum I could.

Starting by the back, unscrew the rear group. Now the front. The inside of the barrel has a slot for the lens wrench, so twist it out. The front is much easier than the back. Once the ring is removed, the element pops right out. Place it on the desk. Give the lens a gentle shake and the second element will also fall on your hand with a spacer. Onto the back group, unscrew the glass out. If you’re having trouble with grip, use rubber gloves! Now get the piece of cloth, add some metal polish to it and uncoat it all away. This process creates countless micro scratches on the glass which are the main cause for the glow since light bounces through them. To completely remove the polish I washed everything in water, dried and let it dry some more on its own.




In the mean time I went outside with the rear (now-empty) tubing and the front spacer. Wear mask and protective goggles. Using rough sandpaper (100), take out the black paint inside these two pieces. It doesn’t have to be perfect. With the masking tape, cut small pieces enough to cover ALL the threads and just leave the sanded metal exposed. Be very thorough and add many layers in the process because the paint will mess up the threads if it gets there. Now, spray it with your favorite color. Here I’m making a purple one. Make sure you get a decent amount of paint in there. When it dries off you can remove all the masking tape. The glass should be dry by now, so it’s time to start putting it back together. The painted elements will reflect on the light that bounces inside of the lens, adding a bit of a color tinge to the flares and glow.

Starting with the front, put back the inner glass element, then the painted spacer, front element and screw it tightly back. Reassemble the back in the same way, but don’t fit it in yet. Time to do the oval iris. I had the acrylic disks from the previous tutorial, so I just grabbed one of those. You can choose your aperture value, I’m going with f/2.8 here. Sand it down as thin as you can and be careful not to break it. With the sharpie, paint the disk. I’m going for a crazy look, so I’m gonna use the same color I used for the inside of the lens – purple. This is VERY intense, if you just want oval shapes, paint it black. The tinted aperture has a very strong effect whenever you have a direct light source in the frame, or light rays going straight inside the lens.


The last step is to attach the fishing line as a flare filter. Put it across the middle and using thin transparent tape, lock it into place. Cut the edges. To make this an unquestionably purple lens, I’m gonna paint it as well. Careful because neither the wire nor the aperture will ever fully dry. Putting the oval with the right orientation can be challenging. I noticed the gap in the EF adapter is always perpendicular to the top of the lens, so I used the as a guide. The easiest way to rotate it in place is using the lens wrench. It still takes a few attempts and sometimes screwing the back element rotates the iris, so take that into account. Screw the back in as tight as you can and be careful not to break the acrylic disk (you’ll feel some resistance). The amber one got a few cracks in this process.

That’s it! You’re done! Now’s the perfect moment to subscribe to the channel and check the blog for plenty of other tutorials and reviews. Ferradans out.

UPDATE: If you like this look but not exactly this build, there’s a much more guaranteed way to get a buffed up Helios with LOTS of customization from people who actually know what they’re doing: the FlareFactory58 and the TRUMPs, made by Richard Gale at DogSchidtOptiks. I reviewed them a few months back and I still dream about it. There you even have the option of getting optical attachments so your custom Helios turns into a full set of 38, 58 and 88mm.




Red Helios.

A few weeks ago I was inspired by a facebook post to experiment heavily modding one of my Helios 44-2 lenses. The entire process took me less than an afternoon and I think the results are pretty unique. I’m working on a tutorial for it, and depending on the price of the Helios, the total won’t get even to $50, including all the materials. This is a cheap way to get a unique (and extreme) look to the footage coming straight from camera.

Shooting with this lens is addictive because I never fully know how it’s gonna behave, and everything looks surreal and dreamy. I’m working on a second one, purple this time.

Double post? Not really, since the previous one didn’t cover any of the technical aspects of the shooting and I’m pretty sure – based on my A7s2 post – that there are many people interested. First of all, VOTE FOR US HERE!


Shooting this teaser was my first experience with the A7s2 and sLog-3. Also my first shoot with SLR Magic’s VariND Mk II, and some anamorphics to be the cherry on top. I wanted to keep the shutter speed constant at 1/50 and we had plenty of daylight/exterior shots, including sunset and sunrise. I had the ND on for both of these, and almost at the maximum setting, due to sLog-3′s minimum ISO of 1600. On the bright side – pun intended – of having too much light, this allowed me to stop down my taking lenses to f/4 and get reasonable depth of field even in the most extreme shots, such as the exterior night ones, without ANY lighting but the city’s.

For stupidity reasons (I forgot the proper step rings at home), I shot most of the teaser on the Jupiter 9 (85mm f/2). Looking at the footage in post, it was waaaay shakier than I remembered on set – I was doing it all handheld, again for stupid reasons, and it weighted quite a bit – and the anamorphic had a misalignment wobble to it. Upon later inspection I learned that my M42-EF adapters are all too lose on the Metabones for the A7s2, but that was too late. In order to solve both the wobbliness and all the camera shake, to get the smooth shots you see in the teaser I resorted to After Effect’s Warp Stabilizer. I hadn’t used it in forever, and had some troubled memories of previous experiences. It seems they upgraded the tool, since I was able to achieve positive results and not even need to crop in more than 5%. Since we shot it all in 4k and downscaled to 1080p, I believe the extra resolution might’ve helped with things such as “Synthesize Edges”, another thing is that the shots were shaky but they didn’t have a lot of motion in them (like pans, tilts and stuff), nor busy backgrounds (lots of tiny moving things like traffic or people).

The Rectilux behaved as expected, with sharp results and allowing me to do close focus shots without a hitch. Even though the front rotates – which is a problem for the VariND – all our rack focuses were so subtle that the polarizing effect went unnoticed. I didn’t tape the Jupiter 9, so the focus ring kept moving between shots and that got me a little annoyed for I always had to re-check focus for everything. The wide shots of the patio – and the crew – were cheated with Canon’s EF 17-40mm f/4. We used the grid lines in the camera to have a good idea of how the final framing would be (2.35:1), and then switched back to the 4:3 grid for, again, a rough idea of the final anamorphic framing.

When I got the two hours of footage down to the maximum duration of one minute it was time for color correction in After Effects. This is when I saw the sLog footage shine and was really impressed by how clean the images were. Some of the shots had ISO 12800 and after a little bit of denoising they were all good and clean! I did the color correction using Magic Bullet’s Colorista III and MB Looks, which are easy to play with and give great results. I added a some specific Hue changes here and there too, as well as some glow and sharpening for final touches and voilá!

The New Romantics.

Last weekend was epic. About a month ago, Storyhive announced their webseries competition (is that the right word?) was open, and the deadline is tomorrow. The first stage is to deliver a one-minute pitch video for a show along with a bunch of other documents and concepts, proving that you sort of know what you’re doing and that you’ll deliver them something. From all the pitches, Storyhive gives a $10k grant for fifteen projects in British Columbia and fifteen more in Alberta. A few days after the contest was announced, Kelly – from my film classes at Langara – invited me to a meeting with the people she was putting together as a team for this. That’s how I got to meet Sasha – our producer and co-writer -, Nisha – co-writer and art designer – and Jesse – co-writer and art designer as well. Kelly herself was doubling as co-writer and director. I was coming in as cinematographer and, for the time being, editor. On the same day I brought Gonzalo aboard as our sound person.

Our goal: write, cast and shoot a unique teaser that (as the rest of the team) doubles as pitch video by introducing our characters, the crew and the concept for the show. A show in which Vancouver plays itself and we follow the lives of four young people – Clinton, Wallace, Molly and Jackson. I’m not gonna try to explain it by myself, so I’ll just quote the writers (as they’re more numerous and experienced than me) with the plotline: “A post-modern comedy following four friends through heartbreaks, hangovers and (happy) endings in No-Fun City”. If you’re not from Vancouver or didn’t get the No-Fun-City reference, here’s your chance.

One week after that meeting we had a first version of the script with a bunch of locations all around the city. There was also casting and location scouting (which was the moment when I realized the power of sun surveyor apps, but that’s another post). Out of casting the characters came to life through Michela, Brad and Angie… and Nisha (yep, one of the writers!). Shooting was scheduled for the weekend (April 2nd and 3rd). The weather forecast kept messing with us, saying stuff like “cloudy” or “rain” when what we needed the most was clear weather, particularly during the sunset. I was worried to the point that I kept annoying Sasha to switch the scenes from one day to the other because of the sun – and I’m deeply grateful because she did it for our most important scene and the rest worked out perfectly. Meghan, our costume designer, also came aboard during this pre-production time, making the characters look amazing.

It had been the longest time since I’d been on set with a real team – where people do their work and collaborate to improve everyone else’s. It was a truly great experience, resulting in some of what I believe to be my best work. Everyone in the team was amazing, fun not only to work with, but to chat during our long breaks (it felt like a 36-hour shoot with two 5 hour naps in between and a few resting moments while driving to and from location). I mean, we got sunset, sunrise, beach, park, downtown, daylight and night scenes, natural and artificial lighting, improv and scripted, indoors and outdoors, it really feels like something that couldn’t be shot in a single weekend!

After shooting, I edited our pitch in two days and then spent another half day sitting down with Kelly and refining it to perfection. After that Gonz worked on the sound and I got the time to jump in full-on in post-processing: stabilizing, retiming, compositing and grading. That made a world of difference and it was the moment I was able to clearly see that the A7s II was a real upgrade from the 5D3. Our teaser comes out on the 18th and I’m gonna need all your help with voting and sharing it to make sure we’re the most popular project in that competition!

I wanted to enthusiastically thank the people involved, all of you. It was both an honor and a pleasure to work with such dedicated and talented artists. If we win, I know shooting the pilot will be a blast, so bring it on, Storyhive!

Since I bought the camera, I’ve had lots of people asking me various things about it. For the first couple of weeks, all I managed to do was shoot stills of my cat and roam pointlessly through the menus. Being a Canon user ever since I started photography (aka 2008), switching systems was a bit challenging since buttons change place, menus are divided differently. The whole “going mirrorless” thing was also a drastic change since the camera HAS TO BE ON in order to see anything. On the bright side, powering up is lightning fast (that coming from a MagicLantern adept, used to extra loading times for modules and LiveView), and being able to record video looking through the viewfinder instead of the LCD screen is also a nice feature, since it provides a lot more of stability.

I spent the entire first day just messing around the menus. They go several layers deep and getting the right settings can be tricky. One of my best sources of reliable information regarding these settings was a seminar by Philip Bloom, which is actually for the A7s I, but most of it applies to the A7s II. There a few differences between both models, and I think they are 1600 ISO as the minimum for shooting S-log, instead of 3200. There’s also the 5-axis stabilization that wasn’t present in the Mk I, and S-log3 in addition to S-log2 – which is even less contrasty.

On the downsides, I still haven’t learned to expose stills properly. Most of my raws come out extremely underexposed. The safest way to do so is trust the histogram instead of what you’re seeing on the screen (any of the screens). Opposed to that, bringing these very same underexposed raws into Lightroom gives you a hell more wiggle room than Canon ever gave. You can pump up the exposure almost up three stops and still be free of weird noise. Speaking of noise, low-light performance was the key aspect for me to choose this camera. Being able to push the ISO high and don’t worry about noise is something I started to get used with the Canon 5D3, pushing ISO 1250 and not worrying too much. On the A7s II, I’m pushing ISO 12800 and getting clear images. Also, the noise cleans up very nicely in post.


Underexposed still brought back to life!

More cool stuff: customizable buttons. LOTS of them. With plenty of functions to assign. I’ve set mine close enough to my Canon settings but I still struggle with a few settings I have to tweak when shooting (like the previously mentioned stabilization) and other functions I didn’t have in the 5D3. Among the functions I didn’t have in the 5D3, the A7s II offers Zebras and Focus Peaking right out of the box. The Zebras work flawlessly, but I’m still getting used to the Focus Peaking (it’s not as efficient as MagicLantern’s).

Now frame rates and crop factor! 4k internal is awesome. I’m not a fan of 4k itself, but for downscaling and stuff like that, it’s amazing. The camera also offers an APS-C crop mode, which punches 1.6x into the sensor, for a S35 area recorded to HD resolution. That’s pretty awesome since it allows us to use S35 lenses on a full frame camera (and kills the need for a smaller sensor camera as a B-cam). You can also shoot 120fps in 1080p, but that punches a 2.2x crop. For that reason I got a Metabones Speedbooster from EF to E mount, which brings the crop down to APS-C when shooting 120fps.

The image stabilization is pretty awesome, especially for people like me that don’t shoot using modern lenses, just vintage glass. It works by moving the sensor according to your hand movement. If the lens has electronic contacts, the camera knows its focal length and everything is fine, but using non-electronic lenses is also supported, you just need to manually set the focal length so the stabilization is done properly.

Shooting S-log is amazing, but it takes a lot of NDs and stopping down the lenses for a correctly exposed shot during daytime. I had SLR Magic’s VariND on at the maximum strength while shooting both at sunset and sunrise well after the sun was up and before it was up. The low noise level also helps for stopping down the lenses when shooting at night, fighting off that common issue of razor thin depth of field because the only way to expose the shot is at f/1.2.

A thing that really bothers me is that neither screen is sharp when you hit the magnification button to check focus. On Canon’s you undoubtedly know when focus is right, but on Sony there is a lot of back and forth before settling on a focus distance. This issue is countered by the ability of magnifying during recording (something Canon doesn’t allow), so I constantly hit it up in the middle of a moving shot, just to be sure focus is right.

The size of the camera is another thing that’s drastically different from the 5D3. Much lighter and smaller, it felt a little TOO small for the first few days and my hand started to hurt after using it for a while. Now I’m more used to it, but reaching the buttons sometimes requires finger gymnastics during the shots. Battery life is much shorter than Canon too. The camera comes with 2 batteries already, and I ordered another three right out the bat because they drain very very quickly with constant use. To handle this I kept switching the camera off and on again right before shooting.

One thing that I saw no mention anywhere before experiencing on set is the fact that the camera’s screens turn black when you try to record internal 4k while outputting to an external monitor. Everything works fine until you press REC. When you do it the screen turns black and you only get the video feed in the external monitor. If you switch the resolution down to HD, the screens behave normally, but that forced us to jump through a few hoops on set.

I haven’t had any issues with the 8-bit log files (they graded wonderfully so far) and the amount of space I’m saving, as opposed to shooting raw on the 5D3, is a blessing. Not to mention the super simple workflow, with no concerns with drop frames, decompressing, debayering, taking forever to render in After Effects, filling cards in a heartbeat, all those obstacles. I had many times when I avoided shooting something on the 5D3 because H264 wouldn’t give me enough quality, and shooting raw would be overkill. On the A7s II is quite the opposite: since I know how to expose for video, sometimes I just shoot a few seconds to make sure I’m getting the picture.


That’s a framegrab

I am still learning how to expose for stills. Maybe I need to shoot in a Picture Profile that ISN’T S-log, maybe it’s just a transition between systems. One thing is certain: even when I expose correctly, Sony’s colors in post aren’t as pretty as Canon’s. And I really miss the ability to stretch the LCD image when shooting anamorphic (farewell, MagicLantern, I’ll both miss you and support you forever).

Upcoming, 2016.

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE!

Good morning/good evening, ladies and gents. Today I’m not here to talk about any specific piece of gear but to hypnotize you with what I’ve been quietly working on. First off, I’d like to point out this awesome and unique t-shirt I’m wearing, that I designed and printed by myself and that you can order to support the Anamorphic Cookbook, but mainly to look super cool among your spherical-shooting pals. Head on to the store page through this link and the rest is easy, the shirts are $25, shipping included, all through paypal quick and easy!

Now that that’s out, you SHOULD have noticed the classy intro sequence for this video, which will be opening all videos from now on. It was a pain to shoot, and an even bigger pain to edit. Not having a macro lens around made it impossible to the point that I had to go and get myself a Pentax 50mm macro. The whole thing was done using Rob’s Kinemini 4k camera, shooting at 120 fps and 2k (2.4:1), Kineraw encoded. The camera itself was the easiest part to handle, getting these tiny things in focus was the painful part. Editing half a terabyte of slow-mo footage into 10 pretty seconds was also quite a challenge.

I hope the subjects in this video don’t seem totally disconnected, even though they kind of are. If you don’t follow my blog, just the youtube channel, you’re missing out on the awesome Anamorphic Calculator. After replying to hundreds, THOUSANDS of times to people asking me which taking lens goes with each anamorphic, I took the matter seriously and came up with this multi-function calculator that tells you when you should start to get vignetting according to your camera sensor, taking lens, anamorphic adapter and focal reducer. I think I covered all available options out there, and the custom fields let you input whichever numbers you like, in case you don’t find the ones you want. The calculator also tells you the resulting horizontal field of view and the aspect ratio of your final product. You can reverse some of these operations to figure out which taking lens will give you a specific field of view or which crop will get you a desired final aspect ratio.

I am aware there are exceptions and, just as I said in the calculator’s post, once you figure out the anamorphic you want you should conduct specific research about it. By “conduct specific research” I don’t mean “send me a message”. From now on I’ll stop replying to blunt messages about gear like “where can I find diopters for my Kowa?” or “does the Rangefinder work with the Cinelux?”. I’m also a person, so, maybe start with a “Hi” or “Hello, how are you doing?”, including a “please?” somewhere in the message is also a good idea. If you’re gonna contact me, first be 100% sure that your answers can’t be found in any of my posts. Replying to these messages eats up too much of the time I could be focusing on much more productive research. If you feel lost and abandoned, feel free to let out your doubts and questions on facebook or the EOSHD forum. There are plenty of experienced anamorphic users there (myself included), capable of providing you with answers. If you feel I am the ONLY person capable of resolving your issue, go ahead and send me a message, but be aware I might not reply. The bright side of this is the number of new in-depth posts and the progress on the Anamorphic Cookbook should increase.

Speaking of the Cookbook, this is my second take at an anamorphic guide of sorts. The first one (Anamorphic on a Budget) was a good start, but there are MANY subjects that were left out because I lacked the experience, or simply because I wasn’t aware they existed. Now I’m gonna try to cover a lot more ground. The Cookbook is meant to have deeper analyses and conclusions, being useful to any anamorphic enthusiast and even to anyone considering learning more about these lenses. I’m going deeper into the whole diopter party, how taking lenses affect the resulting image, how to fake the look in more effective ways and many other important points (if you wanna check a more detailed overview of my goals, check this link).

This kind of research requires gear I don’t currently have, which implies there will be expenses. Because of that, I’ll be putting the Anamorphic Cookbook on Kickstarter. You can get yours there, for a lower price than it will be available when it comes out officially. You can also use this chance to get yourself some other useful trinkets such as this amazing shirt, anamorfaked Helios lenses, aperture disks and even skype calls for advice in a particular project. Keep in mind that whatever amount raised there is crucial for the research and tests featured on the book. You are literally helping me to keep going and speeding up the process. If you wanna be notified whenever there’s a new post or update regarding the project, send a message to news@anamorphiccookbook.com

Lastly, I’m starting to sell some of my gear. Both of my Isco Wide-Screen 2000s shall go, along with the small Century Optics, Isco-Optic 16:9 Video Attachment and some more. These are all listed in a separate part of my website and the goal is to avoid eBay’s taxes and bidding wars. Most of the money coming from these sales is gonna be directed towards the Cookbook, so, besides getting an awesome piece of gear, you’re funding more upcoming content. The list is gonna be constantly updated as items come and go, so be sure to check it every once in a while!

Phew, that’s it for this video. Subscribe to the channel for getting updates as soon as I upload new episodes and be sure to check all the cool new things mentioned here!

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE!

Welcome to the last episode in this post-processing chop shop streak. Today I’ll explain how to fix anamorphic mumps using Photoshop’s Spherize filter.

Mumps are that weird looking stretch that you get sometimes, when some parts of the frame look overstretched – mainly the center – and the edges still look compressed. You don’t necessarily have both things at the same time, it’s usually one or the other. Back in the first days of anamorphic in Hollywood, many actors and actresses included clauses against anamorphic lenses in their contracts for these lenses rendered unflattering images of themselves because of mumps! If you wanna know more about the subject, check Chapter IIIC of the Anamorphic on a Budget. This bizarre effect is due to the cylindrical glass of the anamorphics which isn’t even across its width, resulting in an uneven stretch across the frame.

Here’s a shot with a case of mumps and here’s the same shot, fixed. So let’s get to work. Start by firing up Photoshop and bringing in your messed up frame. Now go to “Filters”, “Distort”, “Spherize”.

On Spherize’s pop-up window, you can distort things. The default mode will make you worry if this filter is actually any good, but when you change it to Horizontal, you’ll see its power. You can go with either positive or negative values. Positive will grow the image from the center, which is the opposite of what we want, and negative numbers will pinch the image towards the center, making the edges more stretched and compressing the center – the most important part here is that it doesn’t change the width of the file. This process involves a lot of guessing if you don’t have a reference, like a circular object in the center of the frame. The good thing is, even if you guess wrong, it’ll still look better than the original! When you’re done just press “OK”.

Save your fixed frame. Yay! Now repeat the process for the next five hundred frames in this shot! Sounds painful, right?

On the next few minutes I’ll explain how to convert a video file into an image sequence using Premiere, then we’ll record a Photoshop action, run the action on a batch of images automatically and re-import them back into Premiere.

In Premiere, create a New Sequence using your shot and then export it by either going through the menus “File”, “Export”, “Media” or pressing Ctrl + M. On the Export window we’re gonna change the encoding settings to an image sequence. On “Format” you can go with Targa or PNGs for no or little loss of information but rather big files, or just JPEGs for lighter files and heavier compression. Since this video is going to YouTube, I’ll go with JPEGs, but if it were 4k for a feature film, I’d choose a lossless format such as Targa.


Choose the destination of the rendered files and hit “Export”. Let it process.

Back in Photoshop, open the Actions menu – “Window”, “Actions” -, create a new action – I’ll name it “Fix Mumps” – and set it to Record by pressing the small red circle. Now open your first frame, apply the Spherize filter – tweak the settings until it looks right -, save the file in a new folder – mine is the shot name + fixed – and close the image. Hit Stop to finish recording the action.

Now on the “File” menu, go down to “Automate” and then “Batch”. On the Batch window, select “Fix Mumps” from the “Action” dropdown, leave the “Source” as Folder and click “Choose…” to navigate to the destination you exported your frames. Check the “Override Action ‘Open’ Commands” and “Suppress File Open Dialogs” so you don’t have to click something every time you open an image. Now on the “Destination” side, it’s also a Folder, and you get to choose it. I’ll use the same folder I just created, with the shot name + fixed. Tick “Override Action ‘Save As’ Commands”. For the file naming section, in the first line, set it to “None”, name the shot, second line, just for organization matters, “None” again and I’ll add a _fixed_ suffix. Then, on the third line, from the dropdown pick 4 Digit Serial Number, then input your starting serial number down there, in case it starts at a value different than 1. On the fourth line, add the extension.

. Click “Ok” and let your computer think for a little while. Photoshop is gonna flicker a little bit while it runs the process on all the frames and saves them to a new destination.

After that’s done, we’re back on Premiere: in the Import window, go to the folder with the new frames and select the first one, then check the box that says “Image Sequence” and hit “Ok” and that’s done! If it has a weird frame rate, right click on it at the Media Bin, go to “Modify”, “Interpret Footage” and input your frame rate manually.

Ok, that ran a little longer than I planned for. Again, I hope this is a useful tool now added to your skill set. Subscribe to the channel for new videos and check my blog for all the cool anamorphic content. I’m Tito Ferradans and I’ll see you soon! BUY THE SHIRT!

Finnegan!

I’ve come to realize I haven’t been posting anything about life lately, just anamorphics and and technical things. Time to fix that!

Langara has gotten less worrying than it was in the beginning and we’re heading towards the end of the first semester. – I wrote this sentence a week and a half ago and I couldn’t have been more wrong. These last few days have been an overload of essays and research and editing at full speed. Anyway, it’s the end of my first semester and I’m not taking any classes during the summer. It’s time to hunt for work and shoot lots an lots of amazing footage. I’m not yet 100% sure of how I’m going to achieve that, but it will happen.

The end of Winter and start of Spring were incredibly (and unpleasantly) rainy. It rained almost every day. When a day started out sunny and warm, I decided to take the bike outside. At my furthest point away from home, rain would start and soak me to my soul. Even waterproof clothes weren’t enough and I had to wash my waterproof shoes (see the contradiction there?) at least two times and dry them on the heating system for a minimum of two times per week. Truly annoying stuff.

On the less annoying side, I replaced the chainring on the bike, making it harder to ride. It actually just made it better, since the original chainring already felt too light for flat stretches of road. I struggle a little more while going uphill, but I’m much faster going down and straight. This is also good because it encourages me to explore different paths, trying as hard as possible to avoid steep hills. It’s an unusual way to explore the neighborhood, I admit, but it’s very efficient, and riding is so much fun that I don’t even bother with the rain while it pours down my face. The post-biking stage is when the complaining starts.

Enough of rain and back to Langara: we’re shooting some short films in one of my classes. I didn’t expect this at all when I enrolled and I’ve been having a blast with it. Being on set is an amazing feeling that I had been away for too long. We shoot a short per week, in a 3-hour interval, and every week I realize something I needed and forgot. This led me to buy lots of tape, clothespins, a foldable knife and a decent box-cutter, a voltmeter, zip ties, spare lamps, pins to threads adapters, rope, an extra dimmer and a couple adapters for connecting several lamps to one outlet. Thankfully none of these items costed more than $5. Now I have a box in my closet full of electricity and gaffer stuff, something I promised myself I’d never have back in Brazil (but that I also had, even in greater volume).

Being on set so constantly switched back on my cinematographer side and I’ve been studying cameras, lenses and stabilizers a lot more recently. I’m putting together all the stuff I need to sell, organizing what I’m selling here and what I’m keeping to sell back home. The goal is to reduce the overall gear count. Later on I’ll start planning about optics and start considering upgrading my lens kit (which hasn’t changed much over the last few years and it’s not that amazing).

I’ve also been shooting many things for YouTube and bringing up the complexity level, so they take longer to be completely done. This ties into another thing I was observing recently, which is an unhealthy habit of cramming too many challenges at the same time into one single project and having nightmares both in pre and post-production because I’m still learning how to sort out either the files created in the process or a different software package I decided to experiment with, or something weirder. Realizing this has allowed to drop some of the major issues that came up due to unnecessary experiments. It’s a moment of clarity that happens in which I think “which one of these two clashing things is more important for this project? Is it the lighting or a shady camera setting? Is it the new software and processing or the camera and resolution?

ALSO, we got a cat! His name is Finnegan and his the cutest, sweetest and craziest cat ever. At first he was scared of everything and everyone, but now he’s quite familiar with us and the house. I think he’ll start appearing in some of my test videos soon enough so you get to meet him in motion, not just in pictures like this one.

It was weird writing this post. Deal with it.

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