"Nocturnes" production blog - day 6 by Viola Evang

The last day of shooting was quite relaxed since there was only one scene left for „Nocturnes“. Yet we were facing a new challenge: For the first time, we used our RED Dragon in an ewa-marine underwater-housing! Of course we made some „dry“ testing before and this time we didn't actually go underwater, but drove the camera on a jib and dolly into a shower.

Operating a camera in an underwater-housing is different in several points. During the whole production, we were using the RTmotion Follow Focus mk 3, even when shooting with the drone. We might have used it in the housing as well, but knowing how incredibly strong the motor is, we were afraid that it would damage the material of the underwater-bag. Luckily, ewa-marine housings feature a „pouch“ which allows to pull focus manually. Operating the Camera on a dolly and jib was the bigger challenge: fixing the camera on a tripod head through the skin of the housing. We are currently working with ewa-marine on an insinde and outside dovetail solution for the proper use on tripods, but unfortunately, it wasn't finished yet. So we used extremely strong 3M dual lock to fix the camera in the housing and to fix the housing on the tripod head - combined with the carrying straps of the ewa-marine housing wound around the tripod head as a safeguard – it worked well, but never leave the camera like this unattended on a jib though!

We are looking forward to further tests with new customized ewa-marine features like integrated dovetail plates and waterproof cable exits for video transmission or even for the use of remote follow focus systems in wired mode!

"Nocturnes" - Teaser by David Kellermann

A little bit more than two weeks after the end of principle photography, we're glad to release the teaser for our short film "Nocturnes". We intend to finish a trailer by July. The film will be finished in August and hopefully be screened at multiple film festivals around the world.

The film was shot on a RED Dragon in 5k 24fps, except the slow-motion which was shot in 4k WS at 75fps.

For the aerial shot in the teaser, we used a Freefly Cinestar 8 with a DJI Ronin gimbal to fly the RED Dragon. The pilot of the drone was the incredible talented Felix Hosenseidl from Flymotions. The second shot in the teaser was filmed by two people carrying the DJI Ronin.

"Nocturnes" production blog - day 5 by David Kellermann

"The enemy of art is the absence of limitations." ― Orson Welles

On Day 5, the team had an amazing time: the green screen scenes worked out right away, everyone was in a good mood and the technical team managed to finish all the set-ups not only in time but sometimes even faster. Everyday for the last days, the technical crew, headed by Viola, David and Stephan – our ever dependable sound man, handy man, super man etc. - would meet at 6:45 in the morning and go about setting up the equipment we would need for the rest of the day's shoot. And after the shoot, they would also pack everything up that wasn’t needed. So, basically it was a job that would begin at 6:45 in the morning and end at 9:30 in the night – if you are lucky that is. Next time you watch a movie we would really request you to take a minute to thank the technical crew for slogging for months together so you could be entertained for a couple of hours. But seeing the results on screen and the appreciation of the rest of the film team make sure that it's not a thankless job.

We had planned a shoot in an elevator at the Thyssen-Krupp premises here in Freiburg. The workers at the building were very gracious and ensured we got all we needed for the shoot. We had to use a green-screen to film this scene. Stephan had it set up in time. We shot the scene from 5 perspectives using mostly again out MYT works slider. The practical light in the elevator (Osram florescent light bulbs) looked surprisingly good and we didn't have to replace it by our LEDs. We were shooting the scene at ISO800 at 72fps. We had to use a 1/100s shutter to make sure that no flicker would occur. We were once more astonished by how well the RED Dragon handles all kind of light sources.

We broke for lunch and shifted our equipment back to the house in Günterstal. We planned to finish shooting the scene in the bedroom that was unfinished from the day before and to shoot another scene involving our lead in the office room. The scene in the office room was filmed from 4 perspectives and we even managed to produce one of those rare events on film set – a one shot wonder. Both scenes were to be filmed on the slider. We had already rehearsed extensively the previous day for the scene in the bedroom. So, that was one of the easiest scenes we had filmed all week long. We were so efficient with our work that we had time left over to film an additional scene too which we managed in under an hour. All in all, this was possibly one of the most productive days we had had. We had managed to film 4 scenes, one of which was particularly challenging technically.

We had only one scene left to film on day 6. Spirits on set were high and we were really proud of what we had achieved, especially given the fact that we were only 7 people on set that day, 2 of whom were actors. Our hero of the day was undoubtedly Stephan – not only worked fast and thorough, his positive attitude kept the technical crew in a good mood despite the workload. Thanks Stephan for all the hard work!

©photos by Richard Kiefer and David Kellermann

"Nocturnes" production blog - day 4 by David Kellermann

"Pain is temporary, film is forever!"  ― John Milius

We arrived on set on Day 4 prepared to dig in our heels. We embarked on a quite challenging shoot – a scene that involved our leads playing the piano, without actually knowing how to play, especially not a complicated piece like Chopin's Nocturnes Op 15 No 2. Also hanging on our minds was the realization that this day was make or break for us. Our lead was to depart in a couple of days and the set had to be on its toes to finish the shoot by then. Apart from the scene with the piano, we had also planned to shoot the first part of the climactic scene for later compositing with green screen footage and another, simpler scene in the bedroom. Luckily, all of them were going to be filmed in the same location, so at least we didn’t have to worry about moving equipment too much.

We shot the piano scene in the living room of the home. David wanted to film the scene from at least 4 different perspectives. But by the end of the shoot, he had improvised a fair bit by using our MYT works slider to achieve 8 perspectives without the need to relocate the tripods. The dialogue in the scene was very involved. The actors though bought their A game on this day. We faced the usual technical difficulties of bad sound by passing cars, sharpness problems of shooting at T1.4 etc. But both the actors and the crew were determined not to let any difficulty get to them. After 5 laborious hours, David declared that he was satisfied and we broke for a late lunch.

After lunch, we shot the first half of one of the climactic scenes. From the perspective of filming, the task was relatively simple. We had just two perspectives. One was shot on the slider and another on the jib. We connected the jib to our 100mm bowl Secced tripod by using a custom made connector by Lars at Hanse Inno Tech, a great Hamburg based professional camera accessory manufacturer. The jib allowed us to get many shots without changing the tripod's or the dolly's position. So while it may take a while to set it up, it's totally worth the effort. Again many thanks to Ingo and Mark at Behring Film & Klotz Media for providing us with the Panther dolly and jib.

The last scene for the day was to be shot in the bedroom. A simple scene that wasn’t too technically challenging except the wide open aperture: it's tough to pull focus when focus varies strongly between the left and the right eye of the lead. When sunlight started to fade, we decided to pack up for the day, proud of what we were able to achieve that day.

A person worthy of mention for not only this day, but all days of our shoot is Viola, our assistant camera-woman and resident go-to-person. From building the rigs to assisting David with the camera to even applying makeup on the artists (she hated it), Viola was involved in every detail of the filmmaking process on set. She was perhaps the only person who spent as much time on set as David did. So, that meant 14 – 15 labor intensive hours everyday for 6 days. We would like to thank her for all her efforts and remind ourselves how lucky we have been to have her on set.

©photos by Flo Force Photography and David Kellermann

"Nocturnes" production blog - day 3 by David Kellermann

"We were in the jungle, there were too many of us, we had access to too much money, too much equipment, and little by little we went insane"  ― Francis Ford Coppola – Hearts of Darkness

I would travel down to Hell and wrestle a film away from the devil if it was necessary.”  ― Werner Herzog

Ok. So we weren’t in a jungle, we were in comfortable stately home in Freiburg. We definitely didn't have access to too much money. And I doubt anyone of us comprehends fully what Herzog meant when he said that. However, Day 3 was one of those days when you tried to take solace from the fact that anything we might have gone through on set was nothing compared to what greater men have been through before us. Words might be our most inexhaustible source of magic, but by the evening of Day 3, even words by great men couldn’t lift our spirits up too much. Only offer some solace.

The day began well enough. We were behind on schedule, but only just. We were fresh from the success of Day 2. We had planned to shoot two fairly complicated scenes, one in the dining room and another in the living room at the house and one simple scene in the night at a bar called Passage 46 in the city. All scenes were critical scenes from the perspective of the narrative and David correctly felt the need to shoot them absolutely perfectly. But there are some days on a film set where things just don't go right. The technical team was on their feet throughout the day, building dolly tracks, mounting the camera on the jib, adjusting the light stands and reflectors and packing and moving equipment to the other location.

The first scene we began filming was in the dining room. A conversation scene between our leads over breakfast. To begin with, ensuring continuity for such a scene seemed too much for our continuity girl to handle. With coffee cups needing constant replenishing and bread (A note here on German breads: there are too many of them and all of them look too different from one another) being a limiting factor, the continuity girl was immediately overwhelmed. Time between takes began to stretch on and on (we had to make a bread run at one point – no kidding!). If that didn't complicate matters enough, David wanted to film the scene from as many different perspectives as possible. By the end of the day, we had 7 different perspectives from which the same scene was filmed.

The actors were on edge – the average number of takes for each perspective was 6, with the highest one taking 16 takes to perfect. Lunch, which was thus far a communal affair was a messy process in which our hands were forced by the limitations of the restaurant we ordered from. We were forced to take lunch when we would rather have continued filming. Lastly, there were too many hands on set to handle and the crew didn't function anymore in unison. By the time David decided that he had what he wanted, the actors were super exhausted by doing the same scene over 50 times. And the sun deserted us – didn’t wait for us, damn him – and we decided against the shooting the next scene that day itself.

So, our actors were tired, the crew was exhausted, the director exhausted and we had achieved only about 30% of what we had set out to achieve that day. Every set needs that one person who can take control of the cast and the crew when the director is exhausted. Yann naturally and automatically filled those shoes and gave us exact directives on what was expected of each of us. Dispirited and near panic as we were, we held out hope and pulled up our socks and moved all our equipment from the first location the bar.

©photos by Flo Force Photography

"Nocturnes" production blog - day 3: Passage 46 by Viola Evang

The scene at the bar „Passage46“ in Freiburg worked out better than expected. The management and the bar staff were very cooperative so we had an own room for our equipment and they assisted us when setting or changing practical lights.

We shot during the opening hours, so we were were depending on the bar's guests willingness to either change chairs or to be seen in the short film. Fortunately, all were very open to our project and some of them even spontaneously joined our extras.

Eva, filling in for Yann this evening, did a great job as assistant director. It was quite impressive how confidently she coordinated all the extras.

Seeing the bar through the Red Dragon's eyes and our rehoused Leica R superspeed lenses was amazing and spirits were immediately lifted. Only the first AC grumbled about pulling focus at 80mm T1.4, but the final image was convincing. We shot a couple of perspectives on our MYT Works slider and couldn’t contain our excitement when we saw the finished product on the monitors.

The most surprising fact was that we had scheduled 4 hours shooting time before, but everything was in the can after a little more than one hour. Happy about how everything went well and to have enough time to sleep before continuing shooting the next day, we went home.


 

©photos by Flo Force Photography

 

"Nocturnes" production blog - day 2 by David Kellermann

“A director’s style is partly the result of the manner in which he imposes his mind on the semi-controllable conditions that exist on any given day — the responsiveness and talent of actors, the realism of the set, time factors, even weather.”  ― Stanley Kubrick

After the chaos of Day 1, Day 2 was a relatively dull affair – in other words, a film crew's delight. We were behind on time by one scene but forged onwards under the able captaincy of our director. From a director's perspective, Day 2 was near perfect. The crew, still fresh from the experience of our difficult start on the previous day, was active and fully involved in trying to make amends and claw back some lost time. The actors were one a roll, with Herbert, our lead, showing a lot of perseverance in trying to realize David's vision. Nina, who had a relatively small role to play on Day 1 was ready and rearing to go.

We planned to shoot only at one location for the day – the house in Freiburg's sleepy little suburb of Günterstal. The first scene we shot was a conversation scene in the dining room. We shot the scene from 4 different perspectives, all using a GL optix 18-35mm T2 lens mounted on a Panther dolly. The greatest technical challenge we faced on second day came down to succinct management of space. The good folks at Behring Film & Klotz media had graciously lent us their dolly equipment for the shoot. We built around 6m worth of dolly tracks and had to use them in the confined space of a dining room. As filming challenges go, this was definitely not the Everest. More like a happy trek up Freiburg's Schloßberg. The biggest complaint from the crew was that we had an ohrwurm struck in our ear – the “Guten Morgen!” Nina uttered 30 times in her own inimitably vivacious manner.

Having finished the first scene for the day, we broke for lunch – a happy and communal affair. Say what you want about the troubles of filmmaking, but lunch on a film set is amongst best lunches you will ever have, surrounded as you are by creative and like minded people.

The second scene for the day was another dolly shot – following Herbert on the dolly as he walked through the garden. A fairly simple shot tracking shot for which we used 10m of the dolly rail tracks. We were done with it in 4 takes.

We then took care of some unfinished business from the day before – we finished our half filmed scene from Day 1 and packed up for the day.

As days on a film set go, this was a near perfect day – the actors were on song, the crew worked in unison and the director got almost all that he wanted (show me a director who is completely satisfied with his work and I will show you a fool). We were still slightly behind schedule, but we looked forward to the next day with tons of hope and lots of excitement.

Our heroes of the day were our director, for having complete control over what he wanted to see and being able to get a perfect day out of the crew, Herbert – for his patience and compliance in trying to achieve what David expected of him.

©photos by Flo Force Photography and David Kellermann

"Nocturnes" production blog - day 1 by David Kellermann

"The saddest journey in the world is the one that follows a precise itinerary. Then you're not a traveler. You're a fucking tourist.”  ― Guillermo del Toro

The first day of a film production is like the first day of spring. By the end of it, if you don't smell of dirt, you haven't really experienced the day to its fullest. Luckily for us, by the end of our first day, we did smell a fair bit dirty. We didn't plan for that to happen of course. Having spent an entire week preparing for and pouring over every detail of the shoot, we were resigned to being, as del Toro might have put it, excited, but quietly confident tourists. 

We took a conscious decision during our pre-production meetings to try and finish our technically toughest shooting assignments on the first day. The itinerary we had prepared for the first day included almost all the scenes that required complex camera movement. We had planned for three scenes. These scenes included, among other things, two aerial shots on a drone, a tracking shot on the gimbal, a couple of dolly shots and at least one shot each on the jib and a slider spread across two different shooting locations. In hindsight, this might have been a bit too ambitious for a first day. But like Billy Wader once said, hindsight is always twenty-twenty. 

We began our shoot, as per plan, in one of the many walking trails that mark the landscape of the Black Forest. The trail we had chosen for our shoot was on the scenic Schauinsland mountain, just outside of Freiburg. As work places go, one couldn't have asked for a more beautiful or peaceful place. The first shot was an aerial shot in which we tracked our lead actor jogging on the trail. We used a Freefly CineStar 8 copter with a DJI Ronin attached through the GoCopter Universal Plate to fly the Red Dragon and used a 18-35mm Sigma Lens to achieve this. It took us 4 flights of the copter to capture exactly what we wanted and we finished in time for the next shot. Words cannot describe our excitement and happiness when the Dragon first took flight and when we finished our first shot in time.

The next shot was at the same location and involved our key Grip, Yann, and second Grip, Noah, running after our lead, Herbert, carrying the Red Dragon mounted on a DJI Ronin gimbal. To complicate matters, it was not a simple tracking shot but involved a fair degree of complex character actions that needed to be captured. None of us on set envied Yann and Noah for their job of carrying a 12 kg object at shoulder height and running over 50m. It took them several takes to get their actions right. During the 11th take our director, David, jumped up and down with joy claiming the shot was perfect. It took another 10 takes before he was truly satisfied. So, that's about a km of running with the gimbal and the Dragon for a 6 second clip shot over 3 hours. Filmmaking is an acquired taste. But the final product was totally worth it. 

Having finished shooting at our first location, we broke for lunch. Lunch was a fun and yummy affair at our second location – a house on the outskirts of Freiburg. It was here that we started facing quite a few technical difficulties. Before we could begin shooting at our second location, the technical crew had to surmount many technical obstacles. By the time these difficulties were surmounted, it was too late to do anything more than just shoot half of the second scene we wanted to shoot. Another copter shot, albeit a fairly simple one. 

We decided to pack up for the day and start fresh again on Day 2. While we hadn't achieved all that we set out to, we had gotten our hands dirty and production was in full swing. We weren't just passive tourists anymore.

We would like to thank our heroes of the day: Yann for his perseverance during the tracking shot and Felix from Flymotions for his impeccable flying of our copter. Also Ingo and Mark at Behring Film & Klotz Media for providing us with their Panther dolly and jib and Timo Wetzel at GoCopter for providing us with probably the best Ronin accessories on the market. Cheers guys, you were amazing. 

 

GL optics 50mm f1.4 based on the Sigma ART by David Kellermann

After reading so much about the amazing optical quality of the new Sigma ART 50mm f1.4 lens, I was thrilled to get today the rehoused version by GL optics.

It's unnecessary to write about the optical quality, since there are already so many great reviews of this lens - see DXOmark and dpreview.

The mechanical quality of the lens is similar to the other GL optics lens. Hardstops on focus and aperture, internal focusing, all metal housing, everything what you expect of a cine lens.

An other great feature is the interchangeable mount. Like all other GL optics lenses, the lens is available with a PL, Nikon F and Canon EF mount. The mounts come with shims and are user replaceable.

Send me a mail if you want to test it. And here's also the link to the lens in my store.

TQ systems Modul No. One by David Kellermann

Last September, I visited fellow REDuser Joost Kelderman in Delft (thanks again for having me over, Joost). We went to IBC to meet a couple of lens manufactures (Schneider Kreuznach, GL optics and others), but also to find potential partners for my gimbal project, which isn't dead by the way!

Since I wanted to offer a wireless video solution for my gimbal, I spoke to Teradek, Paralinx and also to a company called SRI (now part of the TQ group). I had never heard of SRI before, since they are mostly active in the field of cellular transmission technology. At IBC, they presented their first product for broadcast / media applications: the SRI Module No. One.

The specs were more or less the same as on the Paralinx Arrow and the Teradek Bolt. SRI had made some clever design decisions (such as no fans, strong antennas etc), but the price was quite high.

We stayed in contact and the project manager for the Module No. One, Bernd Wein, visited me last Autumn. We discussed the pricing, future products etc. and when I visited their company a couple weeks later, we signed a reseller agreement.

After months of testing, bug fixing etc. (they are very thorough there) they finally released today the Module No One HD-SDI transmitter. You can find all the specs on my website and on my store. Most importantly, they offer next day service in Europe and the US.

Here are my impressions of their company (only of the lab for the Module no One, since I wasn't allowed to photograph other labs) and of the product. Feel free to contact me if you want to test it!

We're back! by David Kellermann

The long silence is over!

For the last nine or so months, a better TRUTH went through some significant changes.

Janosch Scharlipp left the company, since his job at Isys Vision left him no time to work for a better TRUTH. Due to this, I had to change the legal form of the company ("Eingetragener Kaufmann"). Also I'm now the only owner of a better TRUTH.

While I was sad to see Janosch leave the company, I'm happy to announce that an other friend, Lukas Fehrenbach, joined me at a better TRUTH to take care of all financial matters.

So what have we done over the last months? While starting out some years ago as a film production company, we now added two major fields to our portfolio: product development and manufacturing as well as being a retailer for a couple of companies.

I organized over at reduser.net group buys for steadicam systems (ProLine), film lenses (GL optics) and sliders (MYT Works). Through the conversation with other film professionals, I soon realized that especially in the field of brushless gimbals, which are very popular since the introduction of the Freefly MoVI at NAB2013, products are lacking features which you would normally expect on professional gear. So I started to develop, together with the companies I worked with on the group buys, my own products. And because I don't want to reinvent the wheel, I became a dealer for products that perfectly complete my systems.

Unfortunately, most of the work when setting up a company is writing contracts. But if everything goes well, those months of suffering (reading contracts is really a pain in the ***) should be over this week!

I'll try to keep this blog a little bit more up to date to keep you informed about our products, such as the Satin Remote.

Oh and have a look at our new shop!

Partner everywhere by Philip Zimmer

Wow! Within the last week, "Partner" was posted on a couple of websites, such as the online version of the popular German newspaper "Die Zeit" and on the several blogs like "Nerdcore" and "Krypton Radio". We're really glad that so many people liked the film (we really got some heart warming compliments). Thank you all!

Freefly Octocopter by Philip Zimmer

Over the last few weeks, we did a lot of test flights with our new Freefly Cinestar 8 drone. It's equipped with a Freefly Cinestar gimbal, an Hoverfly Pro flight controller board, powerful Kopterworx KW10 Pro v2 motors and balanced Xoar wooden props.

A film showing the drone flying an EPIC and of course EPIC footage footage will be out soon.

Jewrovision 2013 by Philip Zimmer

We finished this year's contribution to the Jewrovision 2013 contest for the youth center EKEW. The video will be uploaded after it's premiere in Munich on March 2nd 2013.

DaVinci Resolve V9 by Philip Zimmer

Blackmagic Design published a new version of DaVinci Resolve. Most obviously, there are huge changes in the GUI, but also under the hood many things changed. What's really great is the possibility for log grading.

a better TRUTH by Philip Zimmer

deep white is dead, long live a better TRUTH! Unfortunately, we haven't been solid enough with our research for the availability of the name deep white back in 2008. We are legally bound to abandon the name we were becoming so fond of and to replace it by the name a better TRUTH which had to settle back then for the second place. Our website isn't fully updated yet, so there might still be a few glitches.