So I had a chance to spend the weekend with a set of vintage Hawk anamorphic lenses. I was focus puller on a short project so I didn’t have a lot of time to try out the abilities of the lenses but did see some interesting things the D.P. pulled off. They were paired with the Alexa Plus 4:3. First of all they are beasts, like any large format cinema lens the glass is heavy but these were all in the front element. Given that these were vintage and from what I could tell not overhauled they had peculiarities. The 35mm was very wide, but only the center of the frame was truly sharp. The other lenses in the set were a 50, 75, and 100. A PL 2X was used to add a little more focal length to the set. The 100 looked fantastic as almost a long normal lens. The second thing about these lenses was the witness marks were all over the place. At each lens change I had to set up marks through the eyepiece using the zoom function on the camera. This is not out of the ordinary on a large shoot, but it would be nice if you could make adjustments to the focus using the marks on the lens. Finally, the stiffness of the focus ring made focus changes tough. It even caused the old Arri FF 2 to squeak. Thankfully we were not filming on a quiet set. Without seeing the final image taken through post I couldn’t say decisively how well these old lenses performed and whether or not it was worth the trouble. I look forward to working with anamorphic lenses again.


when 100mm is not enough

I’ve given a lot of thought to lenses this last week. The reason being that I was filming with a 5D mkIII and my longest lens was the 24-105 zoom. I’ve spent most of my filming career using 16mm, various formats of digital video and occasionally 35mm. The long focal length in these formats were readily available or part of the zoom lens on video cameras. The Angenieux 12-120 on the old Arri SR covered wide to telephoto. My use of various lenses in different formats in still photography was pretty average. A 150mm in 4X5, the trusty 50mm on my SLR and the fixed lens on my Rollei was a 75mm.

So what is the point of this post? Well, I really need to think about the format I’m shooting with when heading out for the next shoot. On the wider end of lenses a millimeter or two really makes the difference, but on the long end it will take a lot more. Jumping from film and digital cinema focal lengths to the 5D is a big jump. 100mm is only slightly telephoto. See you soon Canon 70-200mm 2.8.

A new ARRI

I read the news related to technology in the cinema industry every day. Almost once a week there is a new camera or an update on a camera soon to be released. This week was no different. Arriflex has a long history with Cinema and I respect that they produce quality equipment especially cameras. I’ve been spending a lot of time looking into the Alexa for the Cinema program at MCTC so when this came up last week I was very excited. A new smaller version of the Alexa, named Amira. No prices yet but the specs look great for todays cinema and TV applications.

the next best thing

Screen Shot 2013-08-30 at 12.28.55 PM
This was really helpful last week while trying to finish up a short commercial project. It was generated in Final Cut Pro 7, yes I’m still using Final Cut Pro 7 in 2013. It is familiar, easy, and usually just works. This is how many people describe their car. I am certified to teach AVID and have used Premiere. I played around with Final Cut Pro X and then put that away. So what is the point of this post? Nothing really, it is a simmered rant on the state of things. Final Cut 7 and Mac OS in general continue to disappoint. What causes a General Error? It could be this or it could be that. After trying many things and painful restarts and using other systems I finally found the culprit. A sound file that was “corrupt”. I returned to the source disc image and replaced the media, opened the project and everything worked. How did this sound file become corrupt? We’ll never know. Could it have happened with another NLE? who knows. Always make a disc image / back-up of your files and hope you never see a General Error.