ARRI Amira

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Having reliable, comfortable and top quality gear is great. It helps any creative person minimize the clutter they are worrying about, and concentrate on more important things.

We have purchased an Arri Amira for that very reason. Arri's reputation and quality of image is unquestionable. While there seems to be new cameras coming out every day from all kinds of manufacturers, we are excited to have the Amira join the crew at Fowler Films

Our Amira is set up to take PL or EF mount lenses (and able to switch in the field in less time than it takes for the Director to get fresh coffee) and shoot ProRes 4444, and up to 2k at 200fps. And, it's got the same sensor as the ALEXA. So your post workflow will be as smooth as Bryan's head.

Send us a message now to schedule your shoot with the Amira. 

Canon C300 Review

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So I thought it would be fun to do a review of the Canon C300. But I remembered there are hundreds of reviews out there about the C300.

You can see comparison shots, how wide the dynamic range is, and how easy it is to use. You can see how it reacts to skin tones (which is really quite good) but what I wanted to do is tell you why I love working with it.

First let me talk about what I've been shooting with the past few years. Ever since the 5D Mark two came out everyone is been enjoying an oversized sensor. People wanted things that had great awesome depth of field, looks good in low light, and was compact and easy-to-use. Very quickly, people started asking for my 5D Mark two instead of the HVX 200.  

It didn't take long to find many different things about the 5Dmk2 that I didn't like. Monitoring things was a pain. It was hard to find focus, and exposure was sometimes hard to judge on the internal LCD. The image did look great, if it was exposed right but if it was under or over exposed it didn't look awesome when you fixed it in post. It was finicky. And it didn't fit into a regular set workflow very easily.

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In April of 2012 I got My Canon C300. The day I got it we started production on a three day short for friend of mine. The camera was awesome. We were up and running within 15 or 20 minutes of opening the box. We quickly set it to cinema lock and just started shooting.

We finished a short in the next week started working on short pieces to go to a air. That meant there was a short turnaround. That meant that we sent the footage to the production house the same day we finished shooting. The good part about that was the picture profile that the seat 300 hats. We were able to find a picture profiled the production company liked, record with those settings, and we were ready to go.  We overnighted the files to the production company that again and editing the very next day. If I would've had a scarlet it would've not been able to use the footage so quickly.

The cameras compact lightweight and modular design means that it will fit with most any of the productions that I deal with. Whether it's a two-person guerrilla style shoot downtown in a city, or full production, the camera can expand or contract so to be whatever I need it to be. And not sacrifice on image quality at all.

All the things that bugged me about the SLR shooting are gone. There are proper audio inputs so we don't have to shoot dual system sound. Rolling shutter is virtually gone. Moiré is virtually gone. There's HD SDI for my monitors. Or even HDMI if you need that. 

Let me take a second and focus on focus. With other cameras like the AF100, HVX 200, Sony F3 etc, one of the things that bugged me about those cameras was the monitor. It wasn't big enough it wasn't bright enough to see outside, and it is hard to judge critical focus without an external monitor. The C300 fixes a lot of those things it's awesome monitor. it's bright, ( I can even see it outside without a lens hood) it's got two different forms of peaking, and it's viewing angle is quite wide so I can share. But I don't need to share because I can add another monitor using the HD SDI output if I want.

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It's so much easier to judge exposure with the on board waveform monitor vectorscope and zebras. Some cameras exclude that. Some cameras just give you a histogram, but histogram can't tell you what specifically is overexposed or clipping. I like to know more about what I'm shooting.

If I was forced to give a short bottom line answer to why I like to see 300 that have to be this. It maintains a professional beautiful image while being versatile enough to meet many different forms of shooting. 

Don't you think you read enough? I would you like to see 300 your camera for your next project? I'm sure you love it.

Steadicam Secrets

You probably heard of the Steadicam before. After all it's been around for over 35 years thanks to Garrett Brown. You can hardly watch a TV show or movie, whether it's independent or major block buster Hollywood film or even a documentary without seeing some footage from a Steadicam Operator. Too many of you, it might seem like a magic bullet for a successful production. Let's briefly talk about what a steadiam can do for you.

Is a Steadicam right for your story?

There are no other devices out there that can move a camera like a Steadicam. It can quickly change with the mood of a scene. It can move the camera in locations that otherwise might be hard to get to. 

But that doesn't mean it is the magic bullet for your production. Your story may be better told with a locked off camera. Or you might need the stability and repeatability of a jib. Or you might not have the budget. 

Don't get me wrong, I feel that the strengths of the steadicam, in a skilled operators hands can be invaluable to your production, and knowing when to use it is an important aspect of your planning.

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What are the limitations?

It will not work underwater, or in a hurricane. But it will work on a golf cart, or rickshaw, or in the woods, or in a church or in a strip club.

When thinking about your shots, the safety of the operator should be your primary concern. A steadicam can weigh between 40-100 lbs, and all of that inertia is a job to move around. If you are unsure, contact the operator first and give them all the details you can. We want the best for your story too. After all, we will be a part of it.

Consider wind, and wires. Anything touching the sled will impact the operators ability to manage the shot. No wind, and no wires are two ingredients to a good experience.

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Can you afford it?

A good steadicam op might have between $50-$150k invested in their rig, and some might have more. On a few of the productions I've worked on, the steadicam was the most expensive thing on the set! 

Expect to pay for the rental of that gear accordingly. You can't get $75K worth of camera for $100 a day, and the same is true with the steadicam. 

The operator's skill set is another aspect. You are hiring first, a camera operator who can collaborate with the DP and director to get the shot. On top of that, they are a Steadicam operator that has spent years working on moving the camera to best tell the story. Being able to think and adapt to the shot is key.  

Often you can get cheaper rates from people, but it usually is a reflection on their skill level, or the quality of their gear. You'll have to decide if it's worth your production to take that risk.

Certificate of Insurance? Yes!

You'll need to provide a certificate of insurance. This is standard procedure. With the steadicam, it’s something that is not fully under the owners control at all times, so a COI from the production company is an industry standard for owner operators. 

A steadicam (and it’s kit) is something that is operated by the owner, but not always under our direct control. It might be moved by a grip, adjusted by an AC, stored off to the side or in a truck, put on standby, and sometimes controlled by others if the shot requires it, all with someone else’s camera on it. 

For all established Steadicam operators it’s a business policy to require one. 

To be continued...