Tag Archives: gimbal

JSD Labs: DJI Mavic Air, iPhone 7 Plus, and Cherry Blossoms in Japan

A few weeks ago I finally got my own drone. The Mavic Air came out at the right time and had the right specs for my needs, so I picked one up. I have flown drones plenty of times in Japan, either rentals or client’s drones, but this is the first one I have owned.  It’s a different experience flying something that you personally have something invested in. One wrong move and it could be gone. So I haven’t done anything crazy with it.

Drones are banned in Tokyo, which is a shame. I have been working in Tokyo a lot recently and I haven’t been able to take it with me. Luckily, I live in Yokohama. With the exception of military bases, airports, events, and densely populated areas, it’s OK to fly here. I have been practicing in local parks, which were fine for gaining my bearings with it, but I can’t do too much crazy or intense flying. In sport mode the drone can cross a baseball field in seconds. With so many tall buildings and hills it’s easy for the Mavic to get out of sight really quickly. I plan to take it out to the beach when it warms up a bit more, but then I have the other fun issue of it being over water. I didn’t get it as a toy, it’s for filming only. Losing it would hurt my production values and wallet.

Overall it is a VERY solid drone. It packs up so tiny. My only issue is that it’s size doesn’t inspire confidence sometimes and can make it hard to see at a distance. I haven’t had any issues with connection or flying badly. But then again, I haven’t tried to push it at all. I only have two batteries right now, as my budget for film making is currently done. I had to sell a bunch of stuff to get this and something else, which I will be writing about very soon. I do want to fly it more often and try it out on some big projects, so I will invest in it a bit more when I can.

As for the video, I didn’t do much as far as settings other than changing some of the settings to be more film-like. Everything else was auto. I will try some manual camera settings on my next shoot. I also got a CPL to try. I hope to get some NDs for it in the future too. I brought my Zhiyun Smooth II iPhone gimbal to see what I could get with a super portable setup. I tried to go full manual in the Mavis app, so some of the shots didn’t match very well. If I went full manual on the Mavic too I think I could get them to match better. I also wanted to try a video with zero slow-motion. As much as I like the look it can be a crutch sometimes. I also had a hard time getting the colors the way I wanted, so I kinda give up and am posting it as the best I could. I really, really need to practice that more. Overall it’s just a test video of sorts. I have been flying since I got it, but just simple stuff that I post on Instagram.

The location for the shoot was fantastic. I had never been to this park before. I came upon it by chance when I went out to practice flying early one morning. The park I wanted to use had a baseball game (at 7:30 AM!) and I just wandered around looking for places to fly for like an hour. The only issue with the park is that it’s kinda far from everything. But it was so perfect for practice… very few people, good scenery, open spaces, perfect cherry blossoms.

I’ll have some more Mavic videos soon, but they’ll most likely be part of other projects. If I can, I’ll do a good beach video at the same place I did the iPhone 7 Plus anamorphic video.

Hopefully content will start flowing more regularly from now on too.

JERHELL – KINGDOM HEARTS Music Video, Directed by JSD

My first real music video in awhile, and my first music video as JSD. Pretty excited to get it out there and the reception has been great!

Jerell wanted something quick and gritty, and he was thrilled with the result. After he told me what he wanted, I knew the perfect setting: Minato Mirai in Yokohama. We filmed half the video in Shinjuku and half at Minato Mirai. I had planned to try and film more in the Cosmo World amusement park, but they closed on days we needed to film and closed early the day we were there. It’s all good, as we got plenty of good footage regardless.

I filmed the video with a special setup using special settings on the GH5. I wanted ALL-I 60p 10-bit video, and my camera can only do that in 1080. Didn’t bother me, as I was going to use an anamorphic lens anyway. I used my Aivascope 1.75x anamorphic lens with the Focuser 8 diopter. Normally it’d be really difficult to use this setup at night, but I discovered that if I use my Voightlander 17.5mm f/0.95 lens in ETC Mode on the GH5, I can get much better images at even f/1.2 with the Aivascope. That lens loves small sensors.

I’m glad I got to help him out with his first real music video. I’ll be working with him and his crew more in the future. Next time we’ll take the quality up a notch. Looking forward to it!

Working with skater/Youtuber Luis Mora, ERASED

I use to watch a lot of Youtube. Use to, as in I have been so busy lately that I am really far behind and had to unsub form a few channels just to keep the backlog down. I found Luis from one of the many skate channels I watch and noticed he was coming to Japan. Checked out his videos, really liked them, and hit him up on instagram to see if he needed any help filming here.

He responded and we hit it off well. We started planning some shoots and I met him at his first big event in Japan at Mortar Skate Shop.

This shoot had some issues. I am still getting use to the camera/gimbal combo and it’s limitations. I won’t get into the details, but I wish I had filmed it differently. It was a lesson learned and he was still happy with the overall result. It’s still a great little edit.

We continued working together, and eventually planned a music video shoot for his friend Jerell (coming soon). We have already shot it, but I have been too busy to edit it. I can’t wait to get that project out there.

The big project that we’ve been doing is a short film called “Tokyo Dreams”. I won’t give too much info on it now, but we have already filmed HOURS of footage and still have a bit to go. It’s one of the biggest projects I have done in years and the video is looking to be some of the best stuff I have ever shot. There’s a little preview in his most recent vlog.

There is also an edit I did when we went to the Tokyo Motor Show. This is usually a dead time of the year for me and I never get to go, so it was a blast, even if it was only for a few hours. I’m a car nut, so it was a visual fun fest. The only issue I had was the crazy and drastic changes in lighting EVERYWHERE. Every booth and stage had a completely different lighting setup, making it hard to transition quickly. I used the Beholder DS2A gimbal with the D2S arms and I got just as many stares as the cars. It did a fantastic job getting shots over the crowd and nice, steady moves. I’d like to try a wider lens at the next car show I film. I need that Olympus 8mm f/1.8… I absolutely love some of the shots I got and they are totally going in my reel. 4k 60fps on a gimbal with the GH5 truly is a force to be reckoned with.

Then last, for now, is a short skit we did called “INTERVENTION”.

4K version:

VLOG with the short as the intro:

This is how you should do it. Get together with a bunch of friends and make something stupid for fun. We filmed this thing in about 3 hours, as I had to make last train and Jerell had to fly out in the morning. Because I was juggling camera, direction, lighting, and audio, it’s not perfect. But it was crazy fun to try to make something like this so quickly. Everybody did a great job, given the circumstances. Poor Jerell was tackled down like 6 times and was covered with orange juice by the end. We got lucky with the location working as well as it did, as the first one we tried had way too much traffic.

We filmed on the GH5 with a Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4 lens and my Möller 32/2x Anamorphic. (The same setup as this post.) For the chase stuff I was riding a bicycle and with the rig on my Beholder DS2A. This was also my first time trying the anamorphic mode 400MB/s ALL-I mode. It destroyed my 64 GB card capacity halfway into filming and I had to dump it onto my computer. But at least I know that spending big bucks on a superfast SD card was worth it. We only shot like 30 minutes of video, but the project was over 70 GB. Crazy stuff.

To all the new people coming from Luis’s channel, Hi! I am JSD. I make things. Right now I am focusing on video, but I have a lot more to share with the world. Look forward to it!

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/

JSD Labs: Panasonic GH5, Möller 32/2x Anamorphic, and the Beholder DS2A testing

Full stats:
Camera: Panasonic GH5, 60fps 4K, ISO 1600 mostly, SS 100 always. V-LOG, Firmware 2.0 with Anamorphic IS and IS lock.
Lens: Pentax Super Takumar 50mm 1.4, used at f/1.4 and f/2.0
Anamorphic: Möller 32/2x
0.5+ and 3.0+ diopters.
Filmed near Yokohama Station, Japan.

This ended up being a pretty epic combination. I’ve had the Beholder DS2A for a few weeks now, but I’ve been dealing with weather, flaky people, and health issues that have kept me from making this video. I hope to have a full review of the DS2A soon, but I have to focus on what I can for now.

First off, while the Möller and the Beholder make this video what it is, the D2S 5th axis arms and the new GH5 firmware make it epic. As for the D2S arms, I am still learning how to tweak them for various situations. It might not be down to calibration as much as it is preference and walking situation. I’ll try to have more on this when I do a full review. Overall, they DO make a big enough difference that makes them worth the money in my mind.

The new firmware brings us video IS lock. This is HUGE for gimbal and steadycam work. The difference is obvious, especially when using Dual IS lenses. I can actually use the Nocticron with this rig, but only with ETC turned on. I stuck with the 50mm so I could get a wider image. Also, it seems the 2.0 anamorphic IBIS makes a difference as well. I should do a comparison.

That said, this was shot using a 50mm lens (33mm HFOV with the anamorphic) and the walking shots are so damn smooth. I have never really even tried any gimbal work on something that tight or a lens setup this big. Now, to balance and support it properly I had to make a simple support rig. It’s made from that simple aluminum flash bar that is for sale everywhere and part of a telescope lens clamp to support the end. Using a washer, I got it nice and flat along the rig.

The only unfortunate result of this is that it makes the camera and lens sit a bit high. While I can get it perfectly balanced, occasionally sharp movements will cause some vertical wobble. I’m pretty sure I could get rid of this with some PID and settings tweaks, but I’m very happy with the base gimbal settings. As you can see in the photo, the angled motor arm makes this rig possible. I don’t think I could do the same setup on the non-angled DS2. It does make it a bit weird to balance, though. I’m still getting use to it. Balancing overall was super easy. When I added diopters to the front I could re-balance the rig in less than a minute. I did use Warp Stabilizer on a few wide shots, but I doubt you’ll be able to tell which ones.

Because of the difficulty of the rig, I decided to find a sweet spot and just stick with it. Really pushing that 1600 ISO on some of these, but It doesn’t bother me too much for night video. It’s mostly shot at f/1.4, but I think some of the super bright crowd shots are at f/2.0. The lens and the anamorphic were kept at infinity and diopters were added, except for two shots where I double focused to get beyond what the 0.5+ Tamron could reach. It wasn’t too bad. The bokeh in this video is superb, the flares hit just right, colors are mostly good. I am still learning how to deal with V-LOG, but you gotta take what you can get with this setup. Shooting at night left me locked at a shutter speed of 100 to prevent flicker. I think I want to invest in some light ND filters for night video eventually.

I need to super thank Matthew (rhyminggaijin) and Kahesi for helping me with this shoot. They did a great job and I’ll most likely work with them again in the future. (Their links are below)  I’m not sure why, but I’ve had a REALLY hard time getting people for my videos. Either people are too shy, flake out, or just never get back to me. It’s really hindering my production schedule. I’m getting tired of working around it.

Lastly, I ask for your patience as I have been dealing with some health issues this year that are the real reason for the lack of regular updates. I have so much on the shelf and so many projects that I’ve had to outright cancel. After this shoot I have been really struggling to get through the day. I’m hoping that my most recent hospital visit will be the start of getting this cleared up. I have so much I want to do…

ANYWAY! I was pretty happy with this video overall. I want to do more and eventually clean it up to a more professional look, or at least as close as this rig can get. Look forward to more!

Once again, thank you to:

Matthew:
https://www.instagram.com/rhyminggaijin/
https://www.youtube.com/user/Rhyminggaijin

Khaleesi:
https://www.instagram.com/sexy_beau_diamond_/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3luSyBYkUcdVhExrpO6m4g

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.

 

JSD LABS: IPHONE 7 PLUS NIGHT ANAMORPHIC VIDEO TEST

(vimeo)

It’s been awhile since Mavis updated their app to take use of both of the iPhone 7 Plus’s cameras. I had a bit of time, so I went out to try filming some night shots with the iPhone anamorphic rig.

Some key differences and changes now are better PID settings on the Beholder for this rig, the ability to shut off the OIS, and the ability to lock things like shutter speed and ISO. I wasn’t trying for perfection for this shoot, as I wanted to see what ISOs worked on the iPhone. It’s not really known for clean nighttime video. I tried to remove some of the noise just to see how it looked, but it only worked on some shots. Looked horrible on others.

One of the best things about Mavis is the ability to shoot while in anamorphic mode. No guessing, as what you see on the monitor is what you’ll see on your timeline. And the ability to lock or set pretty much all parts of the camera settings make it one of the best camera apps I have ever used. It switches between the 2 cameras pretty well (it’s not instant, but I don’t mind) and was super easy to use, even with freezing hands in the night.

I decided to lock the white balance at Set 1 (2896k) to try to give a nice cool feel to the footage and to compliment the anamorphic flares. It worked well. Decided again not to color correct the footage so people could see how it looks right out of the app and phone. I am not sure if this affected the amount of grain in some shots, but I can always do another shoot later.

One of the big issues with the first shoot I did with the standard camera app were the distortions caused by the OIS. You can shut off the OIS in Mavis, which is fantastic. But you can tell which shots I turned it off in when I move too much. The Beholder does a great job keeping it steady for the most part, but it’s not perfect. It’s still a tiny rig. I did shoot a few shots with the OIS on, and some are not as obvious as others.

Overall it was a good test. It was my first time using the Mavis app and I really enjoyed it. Shooting at night on the iPhone is not ideal, but you can get some decent shots with the right settings.

I have fun shooting with this rig, but it does have it’s limitations. It’s not really a recommended setup for the average user. I just happen to already have what is needed to do it. I have a bit set aside for the new Moondog Labs anamorphic when it comes out, but I want to find a good stabilizer that will work with it. The smaller and more portable, the better.

But you know what I REALLY want? A basic, small stabilizer for my RX100 IV. Nobody makes one. You could seriously make one the size of the current iPhone and GoPro stabilizers. Somebody get on this.

Lastly, the music was done in the Launchpad iOS app. It’s a nice go-to for somewhat original free music when I have no time to look for something.

JSD Labs: iPhone 7 Plus Anamorphic Video Test

iphone7plusanamorphictest2

(vimeo)

After a week of waiting, I finally received my iPhone 7 Plus from docomo on Saturday. With little time for tests and setting up, I  ventured out to Hakkeijima in Kanagawa the next day to shoot some video with a rig that I wasn’t even sure was going to work.

Because none of the manual camera control apps worked with the dual lens setup yet, I decided to do this first test with just the Camera app. Keep it basic, no color correction just to see what the rig can do. I had tested the setup with my iPhone 6 Plus last week after receiving the Tarion Cinema Mount, but even though it worked well, I had no idea if the dual camera setup would even be possible on it.

Luckily, it did work. I should have documented this process better, but there wasn’t too much to it. I am using an old 1.33x anamorphic that was made for video cameras in the days of 4:3. It’s unbranded, but it’s about the same size as the Sony VCL-W169. These are very rare, and while I have heard of others like mine on the internet, I haven’t seen another for sale in years. However, SLR Magic quietly released a new Anamorphot that has 52mm rear threads like mine that would most likely work with this setup as well if you want to build something similar. This is the only way to get an anamorphic on the iPhone 7 Plus until Moondog Labs releases their adapter later this year.

The major issues I had were with the OIS and the Beholder. Half of it may be attributed to my custom PID settings being for my Sony RX100IV on the Beholder, the other being the OIS would cause the lens to shift where you could see the edges of the anamorphic. Once the Mavis app is updated for the 7 Plus, I’ll give it another go and play around with shutting the OIS off when on a stabilizer.

Switching between the cameras worked really well. All of the automation in the Camera app seems to do well judging the shots, but I am excited to try it out with manual controls. I am especially curious on how the apps out there will deal with the zoom lens, as it has a few quirks I will go into in another post.

Overall I am pretty happy with the results. I tried to color correct a few of the shots and I was very impressed with what the camera can provide out of box. Once I have updated apps and have fine-tuned the setup better, I will give a a go again and really see how far I can push the iPhone 7 Plus cameras.