Videos

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

Yokohama in 8K – A Panasonic GH5 6K Photo Mode Anamorphic Exercise

Becoming impatient waiting for Panasonic to release the firmware update with full resolution Anamorphic mode, I decided to take Friday off and try to get some good shots around Yokohama using the 6K Photo mode. It didn’t end up going as planned, but I decided to upload a few shots anyway.

In order, the shots were filmed at Yamashita Park, Osanbashi Pier, the Landmark Tower Sky Garden Observatory, and Ishikawacho Chinatown.

As luck would have it, it ended up being one of the hottest, or the hottest days of the summer. It made it hard to move around, focus (mind and lens), and it was really hazy overall. Not ideal conditions when trying to get your best shots. I think many of them came out great, but double focusing the Ultra Star got tedious when every shot was so different. I had issues with vignetting that I couldn’t see because it was so bright out. I wanted a good variety of shots, but I also knew I couldn’t do a long video. 8K is a pain in the ass to render and the file sizes are huge.

I kept my gear light, using a video tripod, rails, and external mic. I had originally planned to do 5.1 surround audio, but my mic setup failed for whatever reason. I apologize for the on camera audio. I was filming with the GH5, the Panasonic 45-175mm f/4-5.6 lens, and the Chinatown shots were done with the Panasonic Leica 42.5mm f/1.2. Most of the early shots were done with a variable ND, and the shots inside the Landmark Tower observatory were with a CPL.  Any landscape shots were done at f/8, closeups at f/4, and all night shots were done at whatever f-stop to keep the shutter speed at 50, about f/2.0-3. I used 1+ and 3+ diopters for close shots.

Yamashita Park had lots of great places to film. I will definitely go back when I have the chance. And yes, All Star by Smash Mouth suddenly started playing while filming. They also played I Try by Macy Gray, making me think that the park’s music CD was from 1999.

Osanbashi Pier apparently shakes just enough to not be compensated by Dual IS. It was constant the entire shoot but I didn’t notice until I got home to check the shots. After Effects Warp Stabilizer did a good job eliminating it, but had I known I would have done the shots handheld.

Landmark Tower’s Sky Garden was great. It cost 1,000 yen just to enter, but they had no issues with me using a tripod. (Many Japanese tourist sites don’t allow them) The glass reflection, however, was really difficult to deal with, even with a CPL. I couldn’t get the lens close enough to the glass to eliminate it, and the glass is so thick/layered that even then there were still reflections. Some of the shots I took with my iPhone right up against the glass had reflections.

The shots in Chinatown came out great. I would have filmed more but I was already super tired by that point. I also had limitations, as if I wasn’t careful I got heavy vignetting with the Isco Ultra Star and the 42.5mm lens. I need a bigger variable ND if I’m going to use that setup. I tried to film a guy making candy, but his lights were so bright that I had to stop down to f/5.0, and it gave ugly dark corners.

 

The next challenge was working with the damn H.265 files. I repackaged them in Handbrake (who decided to change the dimentions on a few videos for no reason), and they worked OK in Adobe Premier. I have a pretty fast computer that can handle 4K stuff with zero issues. But it was like I was in 2008 with HD files on a 2006 computer. Press space bar, wait 5 seconds, it plays. The edit took far longer than it should have. And that was after rendering all the shots at 1/8 resolution. The rest was no-nonsense, I imported it into After Effects for color correction (something I am still not good at) and then it came time to render.

After researching if there was a better way to render 8K video and failing in all attempts, I decided to try just slightly reduced settings from my early experiment that I rendered using GoPro Cineform and just hoped the file would be under 128 GB.

After 3 hours of rendering, I was left with a 3 minute and 19 second,  42 GB large, 9984×3744 sized video. I’m listing it as 8K, as Youtube will only support up to 8K right now.

Overall, I guess I’m happy with it. I think the shots could be cleaner. I think if I brought more gear and my square ND set I could have got better overall compositions. Double focusing is not an ideal process for getting perfect shots on the fly, and some of them are not as clean as I’d like. When Panasonic offers the full resolution 6K Anamorphic mode, hopefully it won’t be in that god-awful H.265 format. Until then, I think I’m done with the 6K Photo mode.

I need to get more hard drive space. This is going to be a data nightmare year.

May Showers, iPhone 7 Plus, Mavis

(Vimeo)

Still working on a lot of things at the moment, but I had to go out and film/upload something in the meantime. It was pouring rain today. I have a high-quality camera that is water resistant that does slow motion. Let’s put it to use!

The whole video was shot on the iPhone 7 Plus using both cameras. It’s attached to a selfie-stick (I get these things for free from distributors all the time. I have 4 of them) and filmed at 1080p 120 fps using the Mavis app. Edited in Adobe Premier and lightly color corrected. Music is something I threw together in Garageband ages ago.

JSD Labs: Aivascope and Focuser 8 – First Test

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/214292200

I had a full scale review of the Aivascope planned. And then this happened:

It was the middle of my shoot day. I was taking off the Magfilter when it slipped out of my hand. Only fell 10 cm or so, but flipped on the way down.

Right now it’s on it’s way back to Lithuania to be repaired.  I will continue my tests when it returns.

As for the video above, I wasn’t planning to make a video with those shots. But I had to put together something while I wait. It’s not the best, but I’m happy with what I got.

First, a few quick things about using the Aivascope and Focuser 8:

  • The Focuser 8 is CLEAN. I sold my Elmoscope-II rig mostly because I never grew to love the SLR Magic Rangefinder and it’s random blue at all the wrong moments. I hope to try it out on other lenses when my adapters arrive.
  • The Aivascope is very difficult to use on anything that isn’t wide or small sensor by itself. I have the focus-through version. However, it shines with the set of vintage Nikon 52mm diopters I got for it. Diopters make it very usable, but the Focuser 8 is what makes it awesome.
  • The Aivascope works on the Sony RX100 IV. I need to make a stable rig to utilize this better. I don’t want to have another drop.
  • The Aivascope works on the iPhone 7 Plus with the zoom lens. Even in 4:3 mode using Mavis. Will shoot with this soon.
  • The Aivascope has pretty bad anamorphic mumps when using the wider end of it’s ability. This can be fixed with the AMC plugin from Tito Ferradans and Lucas Pfaff.

As for the video, I shot it on the Panasonic G7 at 1080p 60fps, with the exception of the first and last shots, which were shot on the Sony RX100 IV at 120 fps.

The first half of the video was shot using the Sgma 30mm 2.8 Art on a Beholder DS1. I still didn’t have the kinks of my custom PID settings worked out, so I did use Warp Stabilizer to smooth out a few bumps. Overall it worked. Once I get the combo right (and a camera with IBIS) it should be super smooth. The second half was shot on a monopod and with the Panasonic Leica 42.5mm 1.2. Because of the size, anything below f/2.0 doesn’t register a change. (It gets kinda dreamy below 2.8 anyway)

If I still had the lens I would have shot a grid to get the right AMC settings. Had to eyeball it for this video.

More to come! Let’s hope it returns soon.

JSD Labs: Anamorphic at f/0.95

(Vimeo)

One thing that I learned since getting into anamorphic is that fast apertures and anamorphic adapters do not mix. Most adapters will rarely work faster than f/2.0, with a lot of them going around 2.8-4.0. The fastest full anamorphic lens ever made is the Panavision 50mm f/1.0. Well, I think my 17.5mm f/0.95 has it beat.

My anamorphic is an unbranded 1.33x from the 90’s. While it may look like something from the Century Optics line, it’s more similar to the Sony VCL-W169. I have modded it a bit and it now has a filter ring, and have cleaned the class inside and out. I personally think some of the shots I get from it are better than the Century Optics stuff I have seen online. But as of now I have only tested it against the SLR Magic Anamorphot. Against the anamorphot it has it’s minuses and pluses, one of the big positives is that mine is smaller and doesn’t really vignette at all with the Voightlander. At night you can’t even really tell there is any vignette at all, especially in 4K.

I had been wanting to shoot a real test with this combo for awhile. I had done some test shots comparing it to the SLR Magic (may post those later) and various other things, but I really wanted to wait until I could get it on a GH4 or GH5. Got tired of waiting and my friend Yumiko was free to help with shooting, so I figured I’d go ahead and do one.

I shot at mostly 200 and 400 ISO, with maybe one shot at 600. I had planned to shoot the whole thing at 60p, but I had some issues with flickering at a shutter speed of 100 at random times, but I think it depends on the lights (It was really odd and random) so I may do another one all at 60 fps later. The under-cranked video was done at shutter speed 2 and then sped up in post. I also experimented with interpolating the 30 fps video to 24 fps, which worked nicely.

Used a +0.50 diopter for most of the shots of Yumiko. I think I used a +1.0 one time and then a +3.0 for the flowers at the end. I used a variable ND filter for the under-cranked video.

I told her we’d only be an hour. I didn’t want to spend all night composing a few shots. I wanted to see what I could do run-and-gun and then evolve what I learn for projects later. The +0.5 diopter really is magic… It’s what makes most of these shots possible. But even with it’s razor-thin focus, shots without the diopters can be just as sharp after a few meters or infinity. My only regret is that I didn’t go the extra mile and set up the Beholder for this rig. I didn’t give it much thought at the start because I had orignally planned to shot 60fps and thought it wouldn’t be and issue. Walking with that rig wasn’t too bad either way.

Lastly, I tried Speedgrade for the first time. I am usually horrible at color correcting, but I think I’m finally getting somewhere in Speedgrade. I decided to try it out to help simplify my workflow and it worked very well. I’ll do a few practice videos this week and watch a few tutorials to see if I can improve even more.

I have been shooting a lot lately, but nothing really complete. Just really trying to master what I have, or at least figure out how to get the best out of it. Might have to change a few things to get where I really want to be. Stay tuned…

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: 2.0x Anamorphic Rig Tests

(vimeo)

Finally getting around to doing some test shots and setups with my anamorphic stuff. I recently picked up an Elmoscope-II and a SLR Magic Rangefinder to make the filming process a bit easier. I had done some tests with my other lenses (they’re on instagram) so I wasn’t completely lost as to what to do. But I still ran into some challenges.

I originally filmed with a clamp and lens support on rails… but on the first day of shooting I had a few scary moments with the lens just… falling out of the tightened clamp. I NEVER had that happen with my Isco Ultra Star. I discovered my Sigma ST-21 tripod ring fits the Elmoscope PERFECTLY (like it was made for it) so I have been using that since. When on the tripod ring you can only use it with the rangefinder. I ordered a Redstan screw-on clamp made for this lens, because I have projects where I will need to dual focus.

Biggest issue when filming… Centering and vignetting.

Shooting on the Leica 42.5 proved difficult with the tripod ring.
Shooting on the Leica 42.5 proved difficult with the tripod ring.

The widest you can go on the Elmoscope is 85mm on a 35mm frame, which is what the Leica 42.5mm is on MFT. I tried to go with that, seeing that it had OIS and one of the best images you can get to start with. On the clamp it wasn’t so bad. But on the tripod collar the slightest movement will take it off center and give you a black corner. This is fine if you are cropping, but I haven’t decided if I want to crop any projects that I will be using this on. I like the super wide look. I also had issues with distortions that I didn’t have when the lens was on the clamp. No matter how tight I got everything down, I think there was still too much movement between the lens and camera. This could also have been triggered by the OIS, which is a problem I had with the iPhone 7 Plus and the anamorphic I was using. I want to try a camera with IBIS some time in the future to see if this cuts down on the warping. Until then, once I get my Redstan clamp, I will try it again.

Filmed with the Helios-44
Filmed with the Helios-44

I only shot with the Helios-44 at night, which is where I think it shines. You can tell the differences in the shots. The Helios just gives this amazing glow to everything. Unfortunately, that’s not what you always want. They obviously don’t match the other shots in the same area. Also, I’m not sure if this is just my copy, but my Helios-44 goes…beyond infinity? When I originally set it up on the rig I thought that something was wrong with the Rangefinder or Elmoscope. Set everything to infinity, and…. blurry. It was only when I was trying to dual focus it that I realized the focus ring doesn’t stop at infinity and infinity isn’t marked properly. Made it a pain to get right and sharp. I’m going to try and get another Helios-44 and see if it’s the same.

Another issue I had was the golden or white halo. Depending n the sun or light angle, it would fill all or half the corners. I know some people like it, but I don’t.

You can see the light vignetting on the bottom of the frame.
You can see the light vignetting on the bottom of the frame.

This was an issue I had on my Ultra Star too. A little too late, but Tito Ferradans over at Anamorphic on a Budget JUST released a video on how to fix this here: Kowa B&H Edge Blackening. I will definitely be doing this to my lenses.

Lastly, I am not 100% sold on the Rangefinder. I think it has it’s uses and benefits, but I can see why a lot of people don’t like the blue flares or dots this thing makes.

The blue is super strong and can clash with some scenes.
The blue is super strong and can clash with some scenes.

On the plus side, the Rangefinder performed very well as far as focusing. I was able to get very sharp images from 2.0 and up on the Leica and 2.8 and up on the Helios-44. I even put a 1x diopter on the front and it focused closer very well. I plan to try some stronger diopters when I get the chance. The ONLY negative aspect to focusing was how much I had to turn the damn thing on a follow-focus. But, I think with some better gearing (and maybe a better follow focus) that could be solved.

Overall, I think this setup has some potential. My goal is to work on it until I can get 100% cinema-clean images. That will take modifying the setup AND how I shoot. I may be uploading a ton of shorter tests until I am 100% happy with the results.

Can't beat that anamorphic bokeh.
Can’t beat that anamorphic bokeh.

I also want to thank Jesse from Ice Block for helping me out and being in the video. I had a hard time getting people to commit and be in my videos for some reason.

Hello Yokohama.

Wasn’t planning for this to be my first upload, but all my main projects are taking more time than I planned for various reasons.

I never get tired of city visuals in Japan.

This was mainly practice using the 1080p  120 fps feature on my Sony RX100IV. I wandered into main areas of Yokohama with the camera on my Beholder DS1 and just filmed whatever. It has no post stabilization and no additional time warping or remapping. Just re-interpolate the 120 fps to 24 fps and this is what you get. Aside some issues with color correcting (something I really need to practice more) I’m about 75% happy with how it came out.

Music was thrown together from something else I was working on rather quickly, so it’s not the best mix. No soundcloud until I make something I’m at LEAST 60% happy with.

Also available on vimeo.