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Filming the Eupholks Live at the Basement Bar in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo

I have know the singer of the band Eupholks, Koike, for a few years now. He asked me to film some of his live shows, so I decided to give it a shot. The first time I tried to do a 2 camera shoot by myself… and it didn’t go well. More people showed up than expected and my b-camera was blocked partially or fully for most of the show. So, I acquired some help for the next one and figured… why not do it in anamorphic?

At first I was going to try some kind of 2x/1.33 hybrid, with the wide shots being 1.33 and the close up being 2x. I don’t have a good single-focus setup for 2x yet, so I decided just to borrow an SLR Magic Anamorpot and do the full thing in 1.33.

SLR Magic Anamorphot on the Left, my unbranded 1.33x classic adapter on the right.

I couldn’t get anybody with a GH4 or GH5 to help me, so I decided to try using my Panasonic G7 along with my GH5. I set them to the same settings for video, color, and white balance. The G7 was on the Beholder DS2A with the Panasonic 12-35mm 2.8 and the little 1.33x, and on the GH5 I had the Leica Nocticron 42.5mm 1.2 in ETC mode with the Anamorphot. I also got to try out the  Video IS lock on the GH5 for the first time, which works very well once you learn how to use it.

Unfortunately, filming didn’t go off without a hitch. Jesse, who was helping me film, had the G7 on the gimbal in the back. I didn’t show him how to check if it was recording properly and he missed the first 5 minutes of the show. The G7 didn’t like the combo of low light and the anamorphic, and would hunt occasionally when the lighting was low.

Yeah, I decided to do the whole show in auto focus on both cameras. If I’m gonna experiment with weird setups, why not see how far you can push them? If I could have changed anything, I would have put the Near/Far ring of the Anamorphot on a follow focus. When the camera is barely close enough to get focus with the combo, the auto focus can give up sometimes.

Overall I think they came out good. I kinda like the slow creep into focus the Nocticron did for a few shots, and I think it fits the overall show anyway.

I am looking forward to doing more stuff with Eupholks and other bands. I would love to somehow do a 3-camera anamorphic shoot if I can find the right people and gear.

Anyway, check the videos above for the show!

Eupholks
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWvE_UroEu9Q7vzR0oMfI6A
tumblr: https://eupholks.tumblr.com/
bandcamp: https://eupholks.bandcamp.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/eupholks/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hiroyuki_koike_

Special thanks to Jesse for helping me shoot!
http://iceblock.tv/

https://www.instagram.com/iceblocktv/

The GH5 Era Begins and the Start of Lots of Updates

So, after a deal with a very dangerous group of individuals, I have finally acquired a GH5. This wasn’t planned to happen for a few more months, maybe even a year… but hey… GH5.

Not having a GH5 is not the reason for the lack of updates. I was very sick over the past few months. Last year a had a bout with vertigo that came back with a vengeance this year. Makes it hard to focus on anything. This was compounded by a list of other problems I won’t mention here. I am much better now. That’s all that matters.

I will go more in depth into GH5 ownership as I go down the road. For now, let’s talk about the two videos I posted recently.

One of the huge differences between the G7 and the GH5 is the 6K photo mode uses the actual full sensor, where the 4K photo mode on the G7 did not. Another big difference is the use of H.265 for these video files, which are a pain in the ass to deal with. However, once the files are properly re-wrapped in Handbrake, you get a massive 4992×3744 video file. When doing my first batch of tests on the first sunny day in awhile (the weather has been horrible since I got the GH5, pushing back planned videos) I shot a few “6K” videos.  Of course I had to do it with an anamorphic attached. After all was said and done I had 20 seconds of 9984×3744 pixels at 14.1 GB.  The only codec that seemed to be able to handle it in Adobe Media Encoder was the GoPro Cineform RGB 12-bit preset. I was using the Isco Ultra Star and the Panasonic 45-175mm zoom, a combination I use for no-nonsense sharp images. It was a successful test, but I think I can do better. I may clean out my work drive and try a short edit of sorts to see how far I can push it. I may even get out the Zoom H2 and do 5.1 surround audio too. Wow.

On to the next…

I picked up a copy of the Möller Anamorphot 32/2x awhile ago, but didn’t get much of a chance to shoot with it. This is a very special lens. I wanted one after hearing you could just screw a 40.5mm step ring on the front and use it as/is. Well, this was the start of a few issues I had with mine. To keep it short, I ended up having to file down the inside of the step-ring to get it to fit right, and even then it took awhile for me to get the confidence to put anything on the step ring. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work to well with the Aivascope Focuser 8. It’s just a bit too long. It does, however, work perfectly with my set of 52mm Nikon diopters. The filter ring also doesn’t rotate when you are focusing, a rarity among anamorphic projection lenses. If you get the custom Redstan clamp for it, it’s a completely trouble-free lens and is incredibly easy to use.

The above video was shot entirely at f/1.4 and double focus. You can use it at 1.2 as well, but my only 1.2 lens is too wide to use the Möller in Anamorphic mode. It’s such a sharp lens… just unbelievably impressive. I am, however, lucky that I can even use it in this state.

When I was cleaning up the lens and getting ready to black out the edges, I had the filter ring completely removed to get at the edges better with my paint marker. However, the lens was set at infinity. And with the top lock collar also removed, a bit of pressure on the top of the lens pushed down the focusing part and the front element…. popped up. It was a nightmare getting it aligned properly again. But as you can see above, I did eventually get it right.

Lastly… having 60fps at 4K is pretty amazing. I will thoroughly abuse this feature. I will also have fun with the other high frame rates… but I already hit a roadblock with those. More on that later!

Focus and Light Test #1

In one of many, I set up a quick lighting and focus test on my anamorphic rig. I have been shooting a lot with it, but there are still some things that I need to work out. The biggest issues are the flares and the focus. For awhile I have been shooting just on my 45-175mm zoom at f/4.0 because I wanted to be ready to shoot at a moments notice with few issues. But I want more bokeh for certain shots and the right kind of flares for others.

The 42.5mm, as I have said before, is the absolute bare minimum you can use on the Elmoscope. Vignetting really bothers me and it is really noticeable when using the OIS on the lens, as the vignette moves with the internals. These were shot with the OIS off as you could still see the movement even with a slider. Really frustrating. I wish I had a camera with IBIS so I could see if it had a better effect.

Overall… I’m not sure I am happy with the flares on these. Occasionally the flares from this rig look perfect. But some of these just look weird to me. I may have to switch it up with the Isco Ultra Star and see if I like that better. I have certain looks and certain feelings I want to convey. That, and the fact that these lenses react so drastically different in certain lights makes me feel I have a lot more to learn. Therefore, more tests.

JSD Labs: Zhiyun Smooth II, iPhone 7 Plus, and Mavis in Yoyogi Park

A few weeks ago I got a deal on a new Zhiyun Smooth II, the updated version. I had read, though I forget where, that it has really strong motors that let you use clip-on lenses on big phones. While the DJI phone gimbal seems to have good features, I had also heard that people had issues adding extras on their phone. I jumped on this one while I had the chance.

That said, the Smooth II does not lack in features at all. In fact, in this video I only used a small fraction of them, the main being the basic stabilization modes. I’ll try to do some more tests on it when I get a chance, but overall I am very impressed with this gimbal. It’s super solid and takes the same batteries as my Beholder, which is a bonus. The only issue I have with it is that it’s almost too light. For added stability (and more shooting options) I had it attached to a monopod for most of this video.

The big test for this video, however, was Mavis. I wanted to see how hard I could push it during touch and go shooting. Some of the shots pulled out of this session are absolutely amazing. However, there is still a learning curve and process that must be followed to use it correctly. Sometimes you forget that you have a fully manual control and that you have to change the settings manually for each shot. I tried to use the auto settings a few times, or had it set on target mode by mistake, leading to fluctuations of shutter speed or whatever. It was also kind of hard to see the screen in bright light sometimes. I think that with a polarizer filter and slowing down a bit I could consistently get clean shots with this rig. The Smooth II is nice and stiff when using the screen, so working with settings on the fly is easy.

Only issues I encountered overall were using the zoom lens with having the gimbal on the monopod and leaving some setting on Mavis in target mode. The vibrations are too much for the zoom OIS and it was hard to get a clean, steady shot while moving and using the zoom. No issues otherwise. I hope to see how far I can push this setup. Editing and color grading was surprisingly easy for most shots. The 100 MB/s files Mavis gives you have plenty of information to work with. Don’t let your shots get too dark, though. But I think that goes without saying for any kind of mobile video.

Big shoutout once again to Jesse of Ice Block, who let me tag along as he shot some b-roll for his upcoming feature, The Library. Here is the video he shot that day:

Finally, once again the music was made in the Novation Launchpad app. It’s a fantastic app for making worry-free music on the fly.  I have built up a cache of clips to use for future videos and even went and bought some of the sound packs. It’s fun and easy until I can get around to making more 100% original music.

 

How many times have you pushed a reset button in your life?

Man, some people do it too much. Some not enough.

On the internet, how many lives do we get? Just one? Some people try to have many at the same time. Some people don’t have one at all. Some people wish they never started one. Some people try to make their internet life and real life the same.

Man, why would you do that? I’ve been online for more than 20 years. I learned that putting everything you are online for the world to see is a horrible idea. If you don’t control it, you lose it. It isn’t your life anymore. At least that’s how I feel about it.

As for me, this is my latest reset. My new Internet life. I think I have done this 3 other times in the past 20 years. But this time, I’m going to do it the way I want to.

Somehow.