Ryan E. Walters, Cinematographer

Cinematic Excellence at 24 Frames a Second

The Great ND Test Of 2013 (Or is it really Neutral?)

The Control Frame for the ND Test
Neutral density (ND) filters are supposed to be devoid of color shift. Ideally they only affect the amount of light entering the lens, not the color balance. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to produce an ND filter that is truly neutral. This is why I set out to test four sets of filters. I wanted to see how neutral they really are. For this test I used ND filters from Schneider, Formatt, TruND, and the internal ND filters of the Canon C100. The results may surprise you, just like they did for me. Continue reading to see how these filters stack up, as well as to get access to the downloadable frames.
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Some Like It RAW. Part 03: Overexposure


Welcome to Part 03 of Some Like It RAW, where I am comparing the Arri AlexaBlackmagic Cinema Camera, and the Red Epic. My goal for these tests is to explore how each of these cameras handle real world shooting environments. Part 01 explored how these cameras handle IR pollution. In Part 02, I tested underexposure. And here in Part 03, I'm exploring the world of overexposure and diffusion filtration. Continue on to watch the 10 minute video, read my summary, and get the downloadable RAW frames from each camera.

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Some Like It RAW. Part 02: Low Light


Welcome to Part 02 of Some Like It RAW, where I am comparing the Arri AlexaBlackmagic Cinema Camera, and the Red Epic. My goal for these tests is to explore how each of these cameras handle real world shooting environments. Part 01 explored how these cameras handle IR pollution. In part 02, I test the limits of low light levels, or underexposure. Continue on to watch the 11 minute video, read my summary, and get the downloadable RAW frames from each camera.
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Some Like It RAW. Part 01: IR Testing


I recently spent a day testing and comparing the Arri Alexa, Blackmagic Cinema Camera, and the Red Epic. My goal for these tests was to explore how each of these cameras handles real world shooting environments. It was not to determine winners and losers. If you are of the opinion that there is only one great camera out there, then this series of tests is not for you. If, on the other hand, you are openminded enough to get past the camera hype, and you want to know how these cameras respond, then I invite you to keep on reading. (I have also made the RAW files available for download).
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HMI Flicker With The Alexa & Epic

[HIGHLY RECOMMEND WATCHING THIS FULL SCREEN]

I've been shooting a lot of high speed content with the Alexa and the Epic lately and I have uncovered some unexpected results when shooting with both cameras. Watch the 2 minute video, and then read on to learn more about what is going on.
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Experimenting with the Helix

[HIGHLY RECOMMEND WATCHING IN FULL SCREEN]

Be sure to check out the Helix from Letus - a revolutionary new product that opens up new creative possibilities to lower budget level productions. (Yes, the pun is intended. :) ) The Helix is being launched at NAB 2012 - you can check it out for yourself at their booth C12449. If you are at NAB this year, be sure to stop by and say hi, as I'll be around hanging out with the Letus team. More about my experience below ....
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Camera Testing: A How To Guide


Camera testing can be a very personal endeavor as the results one person is after may not be the same results that another person is after. It seems that no matter how carefully a test is done, there will always be critiques of how a test was conducted, and how someone else could have done it better, or that the test should have been done differently. My goal in this post is to show some test scenarios, explain how to set them up, so that you can more effectively test out your camera system for comparison or in preparation for production.
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Letus Color Temp & ND Fader Test

[HIGHLY RECOMMEND WATCHING IN FULL SCREEN]
The video above contains sample footage along with my thoughts on the Letus Color Temp & ND Fader. Don't have time to watch the video? Below is a quick summary of what I found.
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Portland Lens Test 2011


On December 10, 2011 Indent Studios organized a lens test that was very eye opening and educational for all that attended. I feel fortunate that I could partake in making it a successful event. :) With the release of "affordable" cameras like the Epic-X, Scarlet, C300, and F3 (among many others) everyone is wondering what "affordable" lens package they should invest in, or rent for their camera. Indent Studios organized this event to use 3 Epic-X's to shoot with 7 sets of lenses and find out the answer. After handling the lenses, and reviewing the footage we all came across some surprising results.

Check out the footage for yourself and download the R3Ds after the jump...
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IR ND Filtration + EPIC


[HIGHLY RECOMMEND WATCHING IN FULL SCREEN]

As cameras get more and more sensitive to light, infrared (IR) pollution becomes a bigger issue as stronger neutral density filters are used to maintain exposure. IR pollution ends up changing the color rendition of the entire image and can result in some VERY funky color shifts. (I have seen dark green leaves change to magenta for example.)  These color shifts can be next to impossible to get rid of once they are recorded into the digital image. There are creative ways to get rid of this in post, but many of these solutions - like rotoscoping and painting out the problem - are cost prohibitive. Besides, a "problem" like this should have been corrected in the camera at the time of filming, not left to post. Always remember this mantra, and practices it daily: "Fix it in camera, NOT in post."

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Epic + HMI (Mag Ballast)



[HIGHLY RECOMMEND WATCHING IN FULL SCREEN]


Just because it works in theory doesn't mean it will work in practice. And just because it works in one application, that doesn't mean it will work in another application - which is why testing durring preproduction is SO important and should NEVER go over looked. I recently spent a day camera testing in preparation for a short film I was shooting for Director Shawn Nelson and it was during one of the camera tests that we stumbled upon some interesting results when shooting with the Epic and HMI's that use a magnetic ballast. What I had thought would be safe speeds on the camera turned out to not be safe at all ...
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Zeiss ZF.2 Lens Test Chart


[HIGHLY RECOMMEND WATCHING IN FULL SCREEN]


Charts are not very sexy I know - but they are very useful. I completed this test to evaluate where these lenses perform the best so that I can get the most out of them. When wide open, the chromatic aberration, and the slight softness that the lenses produce means that for my tastes, I'll be using them stopped down at least one stop. Once they are stopped down by one stop, everything looks sharp, and the chromatic aberration goes away. The 85mm seems to be the worst offender, as the image is not clear until around T4 / T5.6. And both the 28mm and 35mm seem to hold up better then the 50mm or the 85mm. Overall, I'm happy with the results as they bear out what I have experienced first hand when using these lenses in a production environment. I'll be using these lenses in the T2.8 - T8 range going forward. Download the stills after the jump.
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Nikon D7000: Day Exterior Test

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Anamorphic Flares

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In Camera Filtration Comparison

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Noise Reduction Comparison

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