Wide gamut video colors

I was always jealous about how cinema cameras and film was able to render an image. High dynamic range, amazing color separation. But no matter what I tried with 8bit dSLRs, it was not possible to reproduce that look. When the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k came out, I thought that it would look like that, since it could shoot in RAW 12bit. Unfortunately, the look that was coming out of it was anemic, and it had a weird yellow cast. Finally, a year after purchasing the camera, and days after thinking of selling it, I found a workflow that transforms its problematic color science to Linear, and then transforming it again to ARRI LogC. Suddenly, all the color magic unwided and became available. Watch in 4k if you can, on a TV.

Anamorphic look

Getting back to my video hobby, and bought a bunch of vintage modded lenses to have cine-gears, declicked apertures, and most importantly, an anamorphic aperture, to make them look like Hollywood movies. Subscribe to my Youtube channel if you’re interested in my upcoming tests with these lenses.

Aliens

Aliens. Even the NYTimes wrote about the Pentagon research on the UFOs. Since then, the MIT, military news sites, and other respectable news outlets reported about it. There are so many theories abound as to who “they” are:

  • People from other planets
  • Us, from the future
  • Our ancestors
  • AI, self-replicating drones
  • Interdimensional beings
  • Angels
  • Demons

What’s the correct answer?

It’s my opinion that it’s ALL of the above, depending on your point of view. Just like the Indian proverb with the elephant, where everyone sees part of the picture, but not the whole picture.

These are beings beyond our spacetime that are ultra-connected AI-like and more ethereal than us, physical beings. What do they want with us? Well, they are us and we are them. They’re our tech support. We “incarnate” as humans in this simulation-like reality, to gain individual experience while severely limited in our perception (for maximum effect), that after “death” we share with our collective. We all evolve that way. We go “down” to physicality, so we can evolve “up”. The name of the game is always evolution. Existence is all about novel experiences, if we stop having them, we stagnate, and the universe naturally gets rid of us. So, constant evolution via all means necessary is a must, and that also means incarnating into supposedly “lower”, meat bodies. So we are not alone. The angels (or demons) of the past, saints, miracles, our spirit guides, aliens, fairies, goblins, Sasquatch etc etc, it’s nothing but THEM in disguise, our tech support, making sure that we stay on a certain life path & plan.

As for the reported genetic experiments and hybrids via alien abductions, these are occasionally necessary to upgrade the human species, when it has reached a point where intellectual and technological activity requires more broad understanding of the repercussions. It’s an upgrade. Go with it and stop whining about anal probes. It must be done, you’re doing a service, and you’ve agreed to it before coming to this life anyway.

After 30 years of research on the subject (after seeing a UFO in the early ’90s, or ’89 — can’t remember exactly when it was), I went through many stages to my understanding of it all. I started with the “nuts & bolts” theory, which is that these are “people from another planet”, a theory that over the past 70 years after the Roswell crash has gone nowhere. I only started connecting the dots around 2014 between the so-called paranormal (no such thing btw, it’s just our limited understanding of physics), religious visions, and psychedelic reports, and their extreme similarities to the UFO cases. It sparked a different level of understanding of the phenomenon in me. I concluded that it’s ONE AND THE SAME phenomenon. Wherever it originates from, it comes from the same place. And we’re connected to it, in a symbiotic manner.

After I realized all that, there was no mystique about it anymore. It was a much more pedestrian (==natural) phenomenon than I thought it was all the years prior. So, nothing to see there, move along. Live your life. You came to life for a reason, probably not to hunt lights in the sky, or to whine on forums about your scary abduction. You can’t stop them anyway. So let them do their job, and do yours. Simple.

Illustration

It’s possible that for the next 3-4 years I might do illustration. I started on February, and so far I have averaged more than 1 painting per day (using gouache and watercolor). I get bored of things easily though, which is why I always changed my profession every 5 years or so. I’m just bored to death in general from life on this planet.

The state of instant film cameras

I invested quite some money on instant film cameras in the last few months, trying to get the right vintage look for an art project of mine. After buying a few of these cameras, and testing them, I could never get the pictures I needed, because they are not as full featured as a 35mm film camera, for example, which allows different lenses, or filters etc. Here are the negatives I found on some of these models. I won’t list their positives, because anyone can read a feature-list on their respective web site, this is only about what I found annoying in them.

TL70:

– No manual shutter speed.

– Shutter is not faster than 1/500th (overexposes at f/5.6, even with the strongest ND filter that Mint provides separately. It also overexposes at maximum f/22 if no ND is used).

– Proprietary filter thread, so you can’t add fun filters or more ND.

– F/22 aperture has massive vignetting.

– No flash sync.

– Can’t use the sun hood while using the filters.

– Instax Mini is tiny.

PROs: Good all around camera for artsy pics with nice bg blur. Lovely, large screen.

RF70:

– Fixed lens, with no possibility of wide, or tele. For that price, I would have liked some choice, or at least add-on lenses.

– Shutter is not faster than 1/500th (overexposes by 1 stop at f/5.6 under sunlight, even with the ND8 filter that Mint provides separately).

– Proprietary filter thread limits the use of other filters or add on lenses. This is really, really annoying, because it’s what really limits this camera from expandability. If they had gone with a standard filter thread, this camera would actually be useful for most photography cases.

PROs: Full manual controls, flash sync, wide format.

SLR670-s:

– No support for the Mint Flash while using the Time Machine. It’s one or the other.

– Proprietary filter thread limits the use of fun filters.

– No flash sync (more expensive -X model supports it though).

– No frog tongue is installed by default (Polaroid Originals film requires it, or it will come out washed out).

– Camera was modified to have fixed aperture at f/8 (not great for macro or for most landscapes, but great for portraits).

– No internal meter (requires phone app, or professional light meter).

PROs: Fastest shutter speed than anyone else, ensuring it won’t overexpose. SLR finder, easiest to compose. Focusing guide.

Lomo’Instant Wide:

– No aperture or shutter control (it almost never gives you a good bg blur, despite its rather big aperture at f/8).

– Slow leaf shutter makes the camera overexpose by 2 stops in sunlight, while it only provides a -1 compensation.

– Provided wide lens flares a lot. And I mean, a lot.

– Add-on lenses don’t have a filter thread.

– Focusing with it is (almost) a joke.

PROs: Add-on lenses, double exposure and compensation, wide format.

Polaroid OneStep+:

– Proprietary filter thread (which doesn’t even provide you the right color filters to compensate for tungsten lights).

– Manual controls, light painting, and double exposure available only via phone app, so it requires a tripod to operate it (or an assistant).

– Shutter too slow at 1/125th max.

– Aperture just f/12.

– Weak flash. No flash sync.

– Focusing with it is a joke.

– Firmware bugs! I need to press 3-5 times for the shutter to activate (I’ve been hearing about this bug by others too).

PROs: Great battery life, manual controls when possible.

Fuji Instax Mini 90 NeoClassic:

– No aperture or shutter control.

– Slow leaf shutter (1/400th) makes the camera overexpose in sunlight often.

– Focusing with it is a joke (deep field of view every time).
– No filter thread.

– Instax Mini is tiny. Fuji doesn’t have an equally powerful camera for their square or wide formats.

PROs: Double exposure, exposure compensation.

Fuji SQ6 Square & Wide 300:

– They’re toys.

My opinion is this: If you’re shooting portraits, or objects within 2-3 meters, or landscapes (except for the SLR670), then these cameras are good. If you want to shoot precise macro, or have a very precise framing of far away objects that require a zoom (e.g. architecture geometry, city photography where you have to be far away-enough to not spook people), then you should shoot digitally and then buy an Instax or a Polaroid Lab printer to give these pictures the film/vintage treatment.

What each manufacturer needs to do to get one step ahead:

– Mint: Stop making proprietary filter threads. They ruin everything.

– Lomography: Decide if you want to be serious, or a toy. You can’t have it both ways in the instant world, as you can in the 35mm film world. The choices here are so few, that you could be a serious player.

– Polaroid: Be less toy-like with your more expensive model.

– Fuji: Stop making, essentially, just toys.

Psychedelic trips with just weed

For some people, weed can be a mild psychedelic. But for most, it’s not. I did some research to find out what can turn marijuana into a psychedelic, since it’s now legal in Canada and in some of the States. Here’s what I found:

1. Only smoke once a month (or less), as high tolerance kills the psychedelic ability. If after a few months you find that you’re losing the ability to get into the psychedelic mode, then don’t smoke for several more months, until THC is completely out of your system. This is key. You’ll have to decide if you’re doing weed for casual fun, pain management, or for spiritual purposes.

2. Turn off the lights to help intensify your visuals.

3. Get really high using specifically the Blue Dream strain. Use a product that contains high THC levels. Basically, any “haze” strain can get you there, but Blue Dream seems to be the most reliable.

4. Close your eyes, and relax or meditate. If you’re already a seasoned meditator it will help you remember your trip afterwards easier. So regardless, pick up meditation as your daily practice.

5. You will soon enter a dream-like state. When your eyes are closed, you’d be in such a mode, but because you’re not actually sleeping, if you open your eyes, you would completely jump out of that mode into a “normal” weed high. You can easily re-enter the dream state if you close your eyes again and relax. During that mode, you should be able to see patterns and more. For example, some people have reported carnivals and jesters, just as seen on DMT, but the user is not completely immersed into that world as they would be with DMT. They’re more like distant spectators, like in dreams, rather than having their soul jumping out of their body and flying in warp speed.

Happy travels!

Dynamic Range test in Canon picture profiles

I put up a video showing the dynamic range achieved with various third party Canon EOS picture profiles in video mode.

Shooting a movie? You only need TWO lenses

In a previous article I mentioned that the best cheap cinema camera you can get today is the Canon EOS M, that can be found for $150 on eBay. In that same article, I listed the hardware you’d need to pull off a believable spectacle. The lens I suggested was the 7Artisans 25mm f/1.8 ($70). You can shoot a whole movie with that lens. But sometimes, you just need something wider. That’s where the Opteka 12mm f/2.8 comes into play ($199).

I own five cinema-worthy cameras, but the ones that are most in my heart because of their ratio of features vs price, are the EOS M, and the BMPCC. The M has a more manageable codec at 45mbps, some basic autofocus, and support for picture profiles to expand its rather limited dynamic range (I’d suggest either Miller’s CLog3 ($25), Technicolor Cinestyle (free), or if you don’t like color grading much, the VisionColor CineTech ($20)).

The BMPCC on the other hand, while more of a pain to operate, particularly because of its poor battery life, it delivers the most pleasing film-like image, since it has a lot of dynamic range. I’d suggest you shoot at ProRES LT with it (84mbps), since RAW takes too much space, and its other ProRES variants don’t have much difference between them. The first feature-length (and serious) movie shot with the BMPCC, the sci-fi drama “Cosmos”, was shot just in ProRES LT and it looks amazing.

Now, regarding the lenses. You’d need one long/portrait, and one wide lens. Whole movies have been shot with just such a two-tier selection. The 7Artisans 25mm f/1.8 and the Opteka 12mm f/2.8 lenses can fit that bill nicely. If you do have an extra $150, go for the 12mm f/2.0 Rokinon “cine” lens instead of the Opteka, however, it’s not necessary. I suggest the Opteka 12mm f/2.8 ($199) instead of the very similar 7Artisans 12mm f/2.8 ($188), because of a slightly better design, and because of a smaller filter thread on the front of the lens — which is important for the reason that I’ll mention below.

Now, one thing you have to consider when choosing lenses is the crop factor. The EOS M is an APS-C sensor, which has a crop factor of 1.6 compared to full frame 35mm. It’s basically a smaller sensor than 35mm. The BMPCC is tiny, being a super16mm sensor, having a crop factor of 2.88. What this means is when we speak of a 12mm lens, and we may think that nobody needs such a crazy wide lens, you’ll have to take into account the crop factor. So on the EOS M, the 12mm becomes a 19mm in 35mm full frame equivalency (12 x 1.6 = 19). As for the BMPPC, the 12mm lens becomes nearly 35mm! Not so wide now, is it? You can barely see the head of your actor from a close distance!

EOS M:
7Artisans 25mm -> 40mm (35mm equivalent)
Opteka 12mm -> 19mm (35mm equivalent)

BMPCC:
7Artisans 25mm -> 72mm (35mm equivalent)
Opteka 12mm -> 35mm (35mm equivalent)

For the EOS M, these two lenses would be all you need. They’re wide enough to do the job. For the BMPCC though, you’ll need extra help. You can buy a “Speedbooster” accessory, that widens the field of view of your lens, but at $750, it’s a ridiculous purchase. Instead, a cheap $50 wide angle adapter (0.43x, with a 67mm thread) will help you fix the problem. These cheap wide angle adapters are quite fuzzy on the edges (low quality optics), however, since the BMPCC can’t see the edges of the lens (because of its massive crop factor), the quality that comes out of them is acceptable. In fact, the guys who shot ‘Cosmos’ also used such a cheap wide angle adapter without visual problems.

You will also need a 46mm to 67mm step up ring (to mount it to the 25mm lens), a 67mm to 72mm step up ring to mount it to the Opteka, and you will need to have a 72mm variable ND filter and an IR CUT filter when shooting outdoors (to mount it in front of the lens or the adapter when needed). You will also need a 46mm to 72mm step-up ring, in order to mount these filters in front of the bare 25mm lens.

Basically, with the wide angle adapter, it’s “like” you have four lenses instead of two, depending on the shot you need:

BMPCC:
7Artisans 25mm -> 72mm (35mm equivalent, bare lens)
7Artisans 25mm -> 60mm (35mm equivalent with wide angle adapter)

Opteka 12mm -> 35mm (35mm equivalent, bare lens)
Opteka 12mm -> 29mm (35mm equivalent with wide angle adapter)

To put it in perspective, the guys who shot Cosmos, after using both a speedbooster, and a wide angle adapter, their widest lens they used (28mm) was only about 40mm in 35mm equivalency. If they can do a whole movie with a 40mm lens, why can’t we do the same with more readily available and more flexible options? Let’s get to work!

The Rubbish of Ancient Aliens/Annunaki

Whoever believes that rubbish about the Annunaki being real, wanting gold for their spaceships, and enslaving humans, is an idiot who watches too much Ancient Aliens on TV, or Youtube.

First of all, if an alien race wanted gold, they could find it elsewhere in the cosmos. There are probably a gazillion asteroids and planets closer to their home-planet that could contain gold or other such elements. It would be easier and more cost-effective to create machines that mine these for you close to home, rather than traverse half a galaxy away, find and hybridize humans to use them as miners. Do you think they need Earth for any of that? Heck, these days, we can even mine water from the moon. The moon, people!

That does not mean that aliens haven’t been on Earth, or that some of the gods the ancient people worshiped might not have a basis on them being real entities. I believe that it’s more than possible. But that doesn’t mean that all these stories going around about bloodlines, gold, mining etc are true. It’s just fiction, because it makes no logical sense.

If a planet has life, there is only ONE thing you’re interested in that planet: its consciousness. You don’t care about its water, its rocks, or its metals. ALL that, you can find on asteroids on your own planetary backyard. But what you can’t find as easily, is life itself. And life, CAN BE used as energy source by a highly advanced race.

If they, or anyone else, were here to “mine” something, that would be consciousness, nothing else. We have nothing else of rare value on this planet. So, before you open your mouth again about that bullshit, about gold that power spaceships, think twice. Use common fucking sense. The only idiots who want gold, are the humans. Not the aliens.

Shoot a feature film with just $1000 worth of equipment

Here’s the absolute cheapest way to shoot a feature film, in a way that doesn’t suck. You will need a minimum of three people as crew: the director/focus puller, cinematographer (camera/lights), and the sound guy. Work on the set would have to be divided between them, e.g. when the director and cinematographer might be blocking a scene, or… moving couches around, the sound guy can also do backups or charge the various devices used. Basically, few people will have to do the work of many. The actors can do hair & makeup amongst themselves. Don’t worry, they’ll manage. 😉

Here’s the quality I got from using exactly the suggested hardware (minus a tripod, so footage is a bit shaky). The shimmer seen is added film grain btw, not noise (youtube doesn’t encode it nicely).:

NOTE: None of the following are sponsored or commissioning links. The list is just my honest opinion.

Camera

1. Canon EOS M, $150 on eBay, used. Shoots in manual mode, in 1080/24p at 45mbps (make sure you underexpose by 1/2 stop outdoors, its metering is not accurate) and it has a 1.6x crop factor. You don’t need 4k. Film is soft and a 1080p image will give you that.

2. 7artisans 25mm f/1.8 Lens, manual focus lens. You can shoot the whole movie with that lens. Get it even cheaper on eBay ($70).

3. 46mm-52mm Step-up Adapter Ring, $6

4. Variable fader ND 52mm filter. Almost always to be used outdoors during the day.

5. 52mm IR CUT filter. This is to be used only when you use the ND filter at its high strength. Without it, color reproduction could get thrown off.

6. 52mm Wide Angle adapter. To be used to convert the 25mm lens to about 20mm, since there are no cheap solutions for wide angles lenses for the APS-C sized sensors. Use only in tight spaces. You can kinda avoid that if you buy the Kamlan 21mm f/1.8 lens instead of the suggested above 7Artisans 25mm (better quality than the 25mm, but also double the price).

7. TWO SanDisk 64GB Ultra SDXC UHS-I Memory Cards.

8. 2 batteries and charger for the camera.

9. Video tripod with smooth head (or this one). If strapped for cash, an Amazon-branded tripod for $20 will do as well.

10. Shoulder rest, for on-the-go shots (Revo SR-1000). You need a rest with only 1 handle, so you can use your other hand to focus. If you have a dedicated focus puller/cinematographer, get this instead.

11. 55mm lens cap & Sun shade for outdoor shots. The 52mm ND filter’s front thread size that is linked above is 55mm, so you need that size. However, if by adding the IR CUT, variable ND and sun shade creates a vignette on your footage, then you might need to buy step up rings from 55mm to 72mm and buy that size sun shade in order to clear the lens’ coverage (the wider the lens, the fewer filters/shades you can stack before you get vignetting).

12. Grey card, to set white balance, particularly indoors. Don’t forget to lock your white balance when shooting.

13. Clapper board, helps with syncing audio in post, and to organize which shot is which.

14. Field Monitor, and 2 batteries for it ($115 overall). This is required in order to focus more accurately by getting focus peaking support.

15. HDMI mini cable to connect the field monitor to the camera.

16. Picture Style: Either install the free Technicolor Cinestyle, or if you want a more cinematic look, buy and install the VisionColor CineTech ($15, settings: -5, -5, -3, +2), or Lightform C ($7). You’ll get 1 more stop of dynamic range with these profiles over the Standard or Neutral picture styles. Here’s how it looks like, and how to color grade Visioncolor’s CineTech to make it look like film.

Lights

17. Light meter, to make sure shots match.

18. 2-Point lighting kit for basic lighting. Alternatively, you can make your own video lights, and also by adding different color sheets, you’ll get color effects.

19. Reflector.

Sound

20. Tascam DR-05 digital recorder with Line-In and manual audio levels ($75, eBay). Record in WAV. Set your meters to between -8 and -12.

21. SGC-598 Shotgun mic, with phantom power.

22. Deadcat, for outdoor shots.

23. Headphones for monitoring.

24. Monopod to be used as a boom mic (it’s cheaper than an actual boom pole).

25. 10-20 ft audio cable (10 ft might be enough).

26. Cold shoe adapter, to mount the mic on the monopod.

27. [Optional] Swivel extension, which lets you turn the mic at different directions on the monopod.

Backup

28. TWO USB drives from a reputable manufacturer. After each session, you save the recorded files in each of these, so you have two backups. Don’t skimp on backups, you’ll regret it. Keep the two backups at different locations.

Editing

Free versions of DaVinci Resolve for video, color & audio editing, the included Fusion for any needed compositing, Blender for 3D, the Gimp for any stills’ editing. The free version of Resolve doesn’t have noise reduction, but by using the ‘Lum Vs Sat’ color grading panel (as shown at the very bottom here), you can make it less visible (it makes it look like film grain instead of digital noise). If your PC is not powerful for DaVinci Resolve, then use the free Hitfilm Express for video/color, and Audacity for audio editing.

Other (prices not included in this estimation)

Extra batteries, gaffer tape, USB and car charger, laptop for backups, royalty-free music licensing & sound effects, legal, insurance, coffee & food. Unless you feed your cast & crew they will bail out on you. In fact, that’s the No1 rule of filmmaking.

Absolute cheapest

Get the suggested camera, lens, variable ND filter at 46mm, $20 Amazon tripod, microphone, SD card, batteries. Overall, $300.

4k Alternative
If you prefer 4k, then your best cheap bet is the Panasonic G7 ($280 on eBay). Use its flatter CineLike-D profile and modify it to have less saturation, sharpness and denoising (also turn Highlights to -5, and Shadows to +3). For a lens for it, because that camera has a crop of 2.0x, you need something like the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 non-VC version ($150 on eBay) with an EF adapter ($10). Optionally, consider a Viltrox speedbooster ($150) for it for more cinematic results, it will turn that lens wider and faster. You will need a more powerful PC to edit its 4k footage than 1080p too. Here’s how footage looks with it when graded, before & after.