Rentals Tag

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15 Apr My Trip to NAB 2014


I had the privilege of attending the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) Show in Las Vegas last week. It was my first experience at this particular trade show and I was blown away by the sheer size of it. The convention center has over 3,000,000 square feet of space, and you could spend multiple days in just one of the halls and not get to everything. So I moved quickly while doing my best to take in as much as possible within one day– no easy feat.

The central hall held most of the acquisition and production booths, i.e. hundreds of companies and organizations touting thousands of new products aimed at audio/video production, recording, and display. I barely made it through all of the central hall, caught one glimpse of the north hall, and then saved only about an hour for the south hall at the end of the day.



First Impressions:

Usually, people want to hear about the best new thing at NAB, but I don’t think there’s a single product that I would award as the most exciting or original. To me it seemed that it was a year of expanding and competition. For example, I couldn’t keep track of the number of different 3-axis gimbals I saw, akin to the Movi Freefly, or new quadcopter designs for that matter, a la the DJI Phantom. Both technologies are a year or two established, but now several other companies are seeing the demand and jumping on the bandwagon. Sure there are cheap knockoffs, but the overall quality I saw kept me encouraged that this competition is great for the independent filmmaker. There may not have been as many unique ideas this year at NAB, but the useful ones are continuing to be improved upon and made more affordable.




Besides the various camera rigs, the other winners in sheer quantity were LED lighting and hard plastic equipment cases. Running a rental business means that I’m far more interested in proper equipment storage and transport than most, so I had to check out every case solution I could. And to be honest, though each company claims that their unique plastic blend is more durable or their latches more user friendly, it’s hard to pick out many differences. The one that caught my eye was a little booth called Jason Cases. Jason makes custom pelican-style cases+inserts for different equipment packages like a Red Epic (seen below), Canon C300, or Movi Freefly. They are extremely functional, sleek, and a rentals manager’s dream.


Cinema Cameras:

Most of the buzz at NAB this year was directed towards the new cinema cameras. It seems like every other company is jumping in the ring to compete with their own take on 4k (BlackMagic, AJA, JVC, Sony, Panasonic, among others). And although many looked sharp, it’s so hard to say which will succeed and which will fail to find their niche. Many weren’t fully operational at NAB, others sat in glass cases rather than out on the floor for demonstrations, and the rest you still can’t accurately judge without taking the footage home with you to test the workflow and compare on a big screen.




BlackMagic impressed with a new 4k and new studio camera (seen below) with 10″ iPad-like screens.


The Arri Amira (below) was one of the more promising new cinema cameras, despite the lack of 4k resolution. I’ve been hearing about this one but finally got a chance to put it on my shoulder and give it a whirl. With the Arri pedigree, Alexa sensor, ProRes recording, and a smaller run-and-gun body, I think the Amira will do pretty well. It was a little heavier than I expected, partly due to the Fujinon lens, but it felt nice on my shoulder and the Arri shoulder mount and top handle are widely customizable. The interface is designed for simplicity with quick toggles and easy to reach programmable buttons, and I was thoroughly impressed with the 1280×1024 viewfinder with separate flip-out screen. The only drawbacks, like I’ve said before, seem to be the high price and perhaps the 2k resolution.



On the other end of the spectrum, the new AJA Cion (above) left me underwhelmed. Perhaps the jump from creating digital recorders to 4k cinema cameras is nothing to take lightly. This camera seemed to be rushed through production, with an ugly, oversimplified design and half-baked features. The left side of the camera (below) is woefully half-blank, with audio levels stuck randomly in the middle of the empty panel where there would be room for far more controls. It also wasn’t even ready for NAB, as I learned when I went to correct the white balance. Half the menu didn’t even work, and the tech told me that they were still working on that functionality before the release date. Unfortunately they’ll have to make major improvements before then to change my mind on the Cion.


Products I Liked:

Among the other products that impressed me were the EZ Slider Dolly (below) from EZFX. It’s like a Dana Dolly but extremely customizable and with vertical sliding options (video here).


PAGlink batteries, for their stackable form factor:



Newtek (above) put on a pretty good show demonstrating their Tricaster video switchers, and they had to because Livestream’s (below) new switcher, similar to the Tricaster 460, impressed me as well.



4k LED backdrops (above) and little mini-arc motorized sliders (below).



Sony all-in-one field reporter bundle (above) and the new Kino Flo Celeb 400q (rear controls seen below).



More Photos from the Floor:

At the GoPro booth (above). If only they gave away this car with their camera-a-day giveaways…

DP Philip Bloom (below) uses tripods for everything, even laptop stands. I need to work on that 4-buttons-undone look.



Blackmagic (above) had a popular booth and a ton of buzz going around the show about their new cameras. I didn’t get a chance to try out the new 4k model, though it looks promising.

In a break from the show floor, I attended a session covering Feature Filmmaking in the Age of YouTube (below).



Giant green cyclorama (above), and the smoothest (and goofiest-looking) steadicam rig out there, built into a segway (below).



Atomos (above) was definitely one of the more popular booths, partly due to their newest digital recorders (not pictured): the Shogun 4k and Ninja Star.

Most companies selling cameras had little scenes set up to test out their cameras, fully lit with actors and everything. Sony (below) and Canon especially went all out, with the two largest exhibits in the hall and multiple scenes to test with their wide selections of cinema, broadcast, and prosumer cameras.


Overall, it was a whirlwind of a day. I grabbed more pamphlets and business cards than I know what to do with, only because there was no way I was going to remember all of the great products and people I met. It definitely lived up to the hype as the event for filmmakers around the world, and I’d recommend everyone check out NAB one year if you get a chance. Just try to give yourself more than one day to take in everything, and then hey, if it’s not all that you hoped, there’s far worse places to be stuck than Las Vegas.


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31 Jan Studio B Rentals in 2012: New Gear Rundown 2011 (Part 2)

Hello again, I’m back with part 2 of our new gear run down. We’ve got a lot on our plate over here, so I am going to get right to it.

But before we get back to the list, here is our first piece of new gear for 2012, drum roll please……

RED Epic Camera Package

This is the big one for 2012, we have finally received our RED Epic Camera Package here at Studio B. This camera is currently one of the hottest camera systems in Hollywood, having been used on the upcoming Spiderman film, Alien prequel and the long awaited prequels to the Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit.

We have it outfitted with all kinds of fun toys to make the camera has easy to use and streamlined as possible. For more details of our package and the specs of the camera, click here.

Ok, now back to the 2011 list.

Sachtler Cine 30 Tripod System

The most heavy duty tripod in our collection, the Cine 30 head can handle payloads up to 77lbs, this is the tripod you need when you are really maxing out your camera rig or using a massive lens that really needs the support. It can also be a great answer for an average camera setup, offering super smooth camera moves for any shoot. Specs here.

Matte Boxes

Arri LMB5 Clip on 2 Stage 4×5.65 Matte Box

This is a really hot item that has been getting a ton of use since we got it in our hands. This simple but ultra effective matte box allows any 80mm, 95mm or 114mm lens handle a matte box without rods. If you are going handheld or if you are trying to keep your kit light, this is the perfect item to make that happen.

Chrozsiel Super Wide 2 Stage 4×5.65 Matte Box

A standard Mattebox, it will attach to 15mm rods at either narrow or studio spacing, it comes with step down rings to fit 114mm, 110mm, 95mm and 80mm lenses. It comes with a single eyebrow and 2 4×5.65 lens trays, which also fits 4×4 filters. It works great with any of our camera systems, as long as you are using a lenses that matches the above specifications. Click! for more info.

Keep your eyes peeled for more content on this blog in the next week or so.

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21 Jan Studio B Rentals in 2012: New Gear Rundown 2011 (Part 1)

Hello camera junkies and non junkies!

First off, let me introduce myself, as I am new to this blog. I am Alrik Bursell, the Rentals and Equipment Manager here at Studio B Films.

Last year was a rush and a blast. We were slammed with so many different jobs, so many different shoots and so many different wonderful people coming in and out of the office all year round. We were also bestowed with a plethora of ‘fancy pants shining new gear’, that I am sure most people don’t even know that we have. Almost all of it is on our website (the rest will be shortly) but I am going to do a run down of all the shiny new toys we have in rentals that we acquired over the year. So, lets begin!

New Gear in 2011

Arri Alexa Digital Film Camera

Bam! Is this a big one or what? One of, (if not the number 1) top digital film camera working in the business today, and we got one here in our humble little office. We have used it to shoot a number of our latest videos and its always out of the office on rental. Please check our website for more info. But to summarize: Shoots to Apple Pro Res Files (in a variety of flavors), has 11 stops of dynamic range and it has one of the best sensors out there. But don’t trust me, the super awesome Roger Deakins who shot pretty much all of the Cohen Brothers Films, The Shawshank Redemption and countless other classic films says “[T]his camera has brought us to a point where digital is simply better”. And thats not just a fancy sound byte, he is currently shooting the latest Bond Movie Skyfall on the Alexa Studio Camera with Master Prime Lenses, using a Codex Deck to record in ARRIRAW, presumably at 4k, thank you very much IMDB.

Sony F3 Camera

The hot camera this time last year (and still hot in my opinion) the Sony F3 basically took the excellent pmw-EX1 chopped off the lens and threw on a pl-mount, at a very reasonable price tag. The dream camera for indie film makers and on a budget DP’s/Camera Ops, the F3 offers a great looking super 35mm sensor which captures very beautiful images with the ease of use of an EX1. Add the fact that you can send an HD-SDI signal out to a variety of digital recording decks, like the AJA KiPro or KiPro Mini to record directly to Apple Pro Res, then you have got your self quite a package. I am going to do a blog post about the F3 in the next week or so, so keep your eye open for that. For more details on the F3, guess what, click here!


Arri/Zeiss Ultra Prime Lenses

Another major addition to our arsenal, we use these almost on a daily basis. We have a 6 lens set, which includes a 18mm, 24mm, 32mm, 50mm, 85mm and 100mm lens. You can find all the lens specs here. These are not quite at the level of the Master Primes, but from our tests, the quality jump versus the price jump from the Ultra Primes to the Master Primes, is not quite worth it, especially if your final video is not going to exceed a resolution of 1920×1080. These are the top lenses that we have to offer here at the Studio and they would be a perfect match for the F3, Red Epic, Arri Alexa or any PL Mount camera.

Zeiss ZF and ZE Cine Modded Prime Lenses

(Please note, the lenses in this pic are not cine modded!)

More lenses! We already had a handful of the Zeiss ZE Primes for our 5D’s and 7D but we decided to go ahead and flesh out the set to a full set of 6 lenses: 18mm, 21mm, 32mm, 50mm, 85mm and 100mm macro. We then had local DP Jason Joseffer take them into his lab and add custom delrine gears for our line up of follow focuses and we slapped step up/step down rings to make the front diameter of the lenses uniform at 80mm.

We also have a near identical set in the ZF .2 series from Zeiss, including: 18mm, 25mm, 32mm, 50mm, 85mm and 100mm macro. The main difference between these two sets is the aperture control. On the ZE series it is electronic and speaks directly to the camera, giving you your iris control through the camera display. The ZF series uses a manuel iris ring, which you control on the lens barrel and there is zero electronic communication with the camera. Jason also did the cine modding on this set, but in addition of adding the gears, he ‘de-clicked’ the manual iris ring, allowing for a smooth exposure adjustment, on the fly. For more info on these baby’s, check out the ZE Lenses here and the ZF lenses here.


Like I said, we had a really big year, and there was a lot more gear that we got our hands on which I still need to get to, but I want to get this out in the world so I’ll be back with part 2 next week.

Thanks for reading and keep your eyes on this blog, as I intend to bring a new post to you guys and gals on a more regular basis.

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10 Aug High Noon for High Def

If you haven’t heard about this event, you should check out this video, and stayed tuned for the exciting results…

This event, the Camera Assessment Series, “the shoot out”, was a chance for the ASC and it’s members, and really all of us in the industry,  to put various, next generation HD cameras side by side, to see what all of these flavors of HD/4K have to offer.  This is the first, truly industry sponsored chance to see the advantages and disadvantages of these cameras and thier post production work flow.

We here at Studio B are anxiously awaiting the results of this test, as two cameras in our inventory were part of this test- The RED ONE and the new Panasonic VARICAM 3700.

I have a good feeling that the 3700 and the RED ONE, both, will stand up next to these other high end cameras.  I believe that these two cameras have something to offer our filmmaking community and industry, besides smaller budgets.  I think these cameras look great and are relatively easy to use, both in the field and in the edit room, especially in comparison to some of these other cameras.  The 3700 can shoot- stand alone- untethered from any external recording device and then the P2 workflow is slick these days.  The Red is very similar, perhaps a bit more difficult to navigate and manipulate, but also eleminates a lot of the combursome set ups of cameras, like the Viper or the D21.

At any rate, all of these cameras have their strong points and thier applications.  They all have the project that is right for them.

We, here at Studio B, are simply pleased to offer at least two of these HIGH END cameras when you shoot with us, or if you are needing that next level rental! Stay tuned for the results of this test and more comments as Studio B gets deeper into this realm of next gen’ HD…