Rome, March – Salone delle Fontane, E.U.R.

The third edition of AIC (Associazione Italiana Autori della Fotografia Cinematografica – Association of Italian Cinematographers) Micro Salon Italia, organized by Daniele Nannuzzi – just reelected as AIC President – and Luciano Tovoli (AIC AFC IMAGO) with the help of Simone Marra, secretary general AIC, was forced to move from its original Cinecittà Studios Stage 1 & 2 location to E.U.R.’s Salone delle Fontane. This is the same location that Federico Fellini used in the 70s as one of the sets for “Boccaccio 70” starring Anita Ekberg.


Remy Chevrin AFC, Marc Galerne, Luciano Tovoli AIC, Daniele Nannuzzi AIC, Richard Andry AFC


This 2015 AIC Micro Salon took place March 14th & 15th inside this magnificent site built in 1940 for the 1942 Rome Universal Exposition that never happened. This architectural masterpiece by Gaetano Minnucci, decorated with 2,000 sq meters of Carrara marble floors, stairs, columns and fountains, was lit by Rome’s gleaming daylight thru twelve gigantic 9m (30 ft) high windows.


This year the show hosted 54 exhibitors, 12 more than last year. The attendance was approximately 2,500 (approx 4,500 last year) registered visitors, but maybe 300 more came in as a lot of people walked in without registering. The lesser attendance was probably due to fewer students and Cinecittà enthusiasts excited to visit Rome’s Studios or just out of curiosity. This year the attendees were professionals only, and mostly end-users, with one exception: as every year, famed cinema professor Maurizio Gennaro was active showing his film students around and giving lectures, filling the 60 seat conference room that hosted technical presentations and screenings with a new CHRISTIE 4K.

This year, more exhibitors and cinematographers came from around Europe as PANASONIC FRANCE Luc Bara, Jean-Yves Le Poulain (AFC) and Benoît Brismontier from ANGENIEUX demonstrated Optimo zooms at the CARTONI booth while Jacques Delacoux and Marc Galerne shared a TRANSVIDEO – AATON, K 5600 – D0P Choice booth. The ALEXA MINI – an Italian première – and CODEX Digital were presented by Natasza Chroscicki at ARRI Italia. Nils de Mongrand’s new SMARTLIGHT MOTION were displayed at CARTONI along with Spain’s THELIGHT VELVET, SHAPE rigs and their MAXIMA, MASTER MKII Fluid heads.

As per tradition, all the AIC associates, along with multi award-winning cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (AIC ASC), French Cinematographers Remy Chevrin (AFC), Richard Andry (AFC Vice President), Daniele Nannuzzi (President AIC) and Luciano Tovoli all came to see the novelties from the Italian and international leading manufacturers, distributors and rentals; all lined up to support the AIC .

Daniele Nannuzzi, “Deus Ex- Machina” of the show told FDTimes: “Despite the change of location, exhibitors were satisfied as they had more professional contacts that at Cinecittà Studios…I’ve visited several trade shows and I must say AIC really created something unique for Italy, for its elegance, quality of exhibitors, in this historical, yet beautiful location that everyone said to have highlighted their products…It was a success, but now, let’s start thinking at the 2016 edition!”

Rome, March 2015 JLG

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Master Anamorphic Flare Sets


It’s been a busy day in Munich. ARRI unveiled a new series of Master Anamorphic Flare Sets.

Each of the 7 ARRI/ZEISS Master Anamorphic lenses gets its own individual and easily replaceable front and rear glass elements. They can be used individually or in combination. This results in 4 Master Ana permutations: no flares, front flare element only, rear only, and combination front and rear.

When the Master Anamorphics were introduced in 2013, you could almost hear the collective cry of cinematographers for more aberrations, flares, veiling glare—all the stuff that the scientists at ZEISS and ARRI worked so hard to eliminate. In the meantime, for many the pendulum has swung back to a more pristine look and the Master Anamorphics are working hard on features worldwide.

Still, the Master Anamorphic Flare Set is an essential toolkit, providing a range of customizable looks that can be tailored to individual style, story, and situation. As Zero Mostel said, “Something for everyone.”

The front and rear glass elements of each Flare Set have a special lens coating that enhances flaring, ghosting and veiling glare. These effects are consistent across all of the Flare Sets. You can control the aberrations by changing the lens aperture or positioning extra flare lights out of frame (Maglights attached to mattebox aiming into the lens). The Master Anamorphics retain their resolution, lack of distortion and corner-to-corner optical performance even with the Flare Sets attached.

An ARRI Master Anamorphic Toolkit (purchased separately) is used to exchange the front and rear optical elements. It only takes a few minutes: each flare element is pre-aligned in a metal frame.

With the Master Anamorphic Flare Kits, a set of Master Anamorphics multiplies and essentially becomes four different sets, each with different characteristics, while still being free of curved horizons, focus breathing, mumps, barrel and pincushion distortion.





Codex for Alexa SXT

ALEXA SXT - Plus Codex SXR Drive - side view

Codex collaborated again with ARRI to develop the recording and workflow system for  the ALEXA SXT. The engineers from both companies worked together on the latest high-performance, integrated recording system, handling ARRIRAW and other formats, as well as on-set and near-set data management.

The ALEXA SXT cameras have an updated Codex recording “engine,” similar to the system built into the ALEXA 65. It uses the latest SXR Capture Drives, which offer an astounding data rate of 20GB/s.

ALEXA SXT cameras have a new, internal media bay, developed by Codex, that accepts the latest SXR Capture Drives. Adaptors let you use existing XR Capture Drives, as well as SxS cards and CFast 2.0 cards.


Alexa SXR module, Codex adaptors, Codex media (OK)

Alexa SXR module, Codex adaptors, Codex Capture Drives, SxS card, CFast 2.0 Card


Codex Capture Drive 2.0TB (OK)

New Codex Capture Drive 2.0TB



Codex Vault S (OK)

Code Vault S with bay for new Capture Drive 2.0TB (with blue band at front)



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Munich. March 18, 2015. Like a long-running popular TV series, ARRI announced the latest evolution of the Alexa sisters: ALEXA SXT (Super Xtended Technology). Same body, upgraded hardware and software.

Alexa SXT cameras offer ProRes 4K recording, improved image quality, color management and 3 fully independent HD-SDI outputs. SXT cameras will record ProRes 4K UHD (3840 x 2160 pixels) and ProRes 4K Cine (4096 x 2637 pixels) with mild in-camera up-rezzing. This is similar to what AMIRA does. The difference is that while AMIRA does ProRes UHD (3840 x 2160 pixels) — XST does both UHD and 4K Cine.

Alexa SXT cameras use the same 3.4K Alev III sensor of previous models. Increased performance comes from electronics developed for Alexa 65 and Amira. The latest FPGA processors provide improved image quality, with faster processing, advanced pixel correction and optional noise reduction.  New electronic boards enable faster and more powerful image processing—which is what makes the mild 1.2x in-cmaera up-rezzing to 4K possible. Like their XT predecessors, Alexa SXT cameras have Open Gate, 4:3 Anamorphic and Spherical modes, 16:9, and can record ARRIRAW or ProRes.

Look creation in the SXT has roots in the advanced color management system originally developed for Amira. A new type of look file, the ALF-2 (ARRI Look File 2), contains an ASC CDL (Color Decision List) as well as a 3D LUT (Look-Up Table). The new color management engine can easily match the look of current Alexa cameras, but also offers new, customizable looks. Previewing looks on set is improved, including the option to use the wide color gamut of Rec. 2020 gamma. ALF-2 files and the tools that create them are compatible between Alexa SXT, Alexa Mini and Amira.

Alexa SXT cameras have 3 fully independent HD-SDI outputs. For example, a Log C image can be fed to the director’s monitor for a pristine image with live grading, while a clean Rec 709 image can go to video village, and a Rec 709 image with information overlays can be displayed on the camera’s on-board monitor.

The first Alexa SXT cameras are planned for release around mid-2015; the full range will comprise Alexa SXT EV, SXT Plus and SXT Studio models, replacing current Alexa XT cameras. (Alexa Classic EV model will remain in the line-up). Alexa XT cameras (except Alexa XT M cameras) shipped between Jan. 1, 2015 and the first shipment of SXT cameras will be eligible for a full SXT upgrade, free of charge.

ARRI will also offer an SXR (Super Xtended Recording) Module upgrade to owners of existing Alexa XT, XT Plus and XT Studio cameras. The SXR Module upgrade delivers all the features of the SXT cameras, although it might not have the same potential for future upgrades.



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Ben Smithard on “2nd Best Exotic…”

Ben Smithard, BSC

Ben Smithard, BSC

A conversation with Ben Smithard, BSC about his work as Cinematographer on “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” released in the USA on March 6, 2015.

Tell us about the style of “Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and how you and the director arrived at the look.

It involved lots of conversations. The biggest thing was actually going to India. Most of the preparation for the film and how it was going to look came about by just being there, taking photographs, going to locations, and discussing. I didn’t shoot the first “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” But, there was that reference. Obviously we were using some of the same locations, even though we were shooting on digital.

The experience of being in India was a big part of making the film. A lot of other films that shot were in England and other places, and the location was not a massive part of the look.

Being in India, the actual experience informs your viewpoint on how you would shoot the film. Because at the end of the day, we’re following characters in this story who are experiencing India in a similar way that I’m experiencing it.

We were shooting in the same place that they are supposed to be in. We’re not shooting Jaipur for Calcutta or Jaipur for Mumbai. The scenes in Mumbai were shot in Mumbai, the scenes that are set in Jaipur were shot in Jaipur. You get to understand what the characters are going through because you’re there, going through it with them. When all the cast and crew from England got there, along with a massive Indian crew, it almost felt as though we were part of the story.

John Madden and Ben Smithard and Angenieux Optimo Angenieux 28-76

John Madden and Ben Smithard and Angenieux Optimo Angenieux 28-76

Of course, John Madden, the director, and I discussed all the usual things you discuss when you’re making a film. You make reference to other films and photos.

This is a contemporary film set in a real place and we’re shooting it for real. I have a love of photojournalism and photography, so I was like a kid in a sweet shop when I got there. I was taking photographs of everything. The hardest thing about shooting this movie was trying to avoid the cultural clichés of India, photographically. That’s very difficult because India is one of the most photographed places in the world. Because the people generally are very happy for you to photograph them, it’s easy. The difficulty comes in making something completely original. So the look of this film is driven by the story. You follow the story, follow the characters. I tried to make it look interesting.

John Madden is not only a great director, he is an amazing craftsperson. I think that’s a great thing in a director, somebody who really understands the craft of filmmaking. When you’ve got an ally like that, there’s nothing you cannot do. You can achieve anything. I think there are a lot of directors who are very clever and very smart and they do understand it—especially the ones I’ve worked with. I had a great experience working with John. He’s very special and he’s very smart. He’s a very giving person and I loved every minute of the experience of making this movie.

Tell me about camera choice on “Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”

Originally there was a conversation about shooting film on the project. But we were in Jaipur and Udaipur, which is quite a long way away from the lab in Mumbai. Although they shot film on the first “Exotic Marigold Hotel” I had a bit of a concern about the reliability of the laboratory.

I shot my previous film, “Belle,” on the Sony F65. I think it was the first British feature film done on the F65, and I liked the look. When we moved away from film on the “Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” I decided on the F65 because I knew that we would be taking the cameras from London and shipping them to India. I was very happy with the camera and the rental company that I use, Movietech in Pinewood Studios, London. They are very reliable and the lenses from that company are amazing. They’re all really well looked after. My decision to shoot with the F65 was based mainly on the fact that I’d already shot a movie on it. I knew what I was getting with the camera.

Movietech is John Venables and John Buckley, right?

That’s it. You know you’re going to get really good backup with them, which was important being in India. When I used the F65 on “Belle,” there were no technical hitches at all with the camera. It was completely reliable, and if you’re shooting in India, you need a reliable camera.

How many cameras did you take?

We took three cameras. We shot with two and we had a spare body the whole time.

Director John Madden

Director John Madden

What lenses did you use?

Our entire lens package came straight from “Belle.” I knew what I was getting. I used the whole range of Cooke S4 primes from 14 to 135 mm—the same set that I used on “Belle.” I also used the Angenieux 17-80, which is my personal favorite zoom lens. It’s very sharp. There’s a really nice look to it. I have that on my camera nearly all the time. I also had the Angenieux Optimo 24-290 and 28-76.

How was the match between the Cooke S4 primes and the Angenieux zooms?

If you’re going to use a piece of very good glass like the Cooke S4 lenses, then you need a good zoom.

I like working on zooms as much as I can. I use the primes for handheld or Steadicam. I’ve never had any major problems trying to match them, to be honest. I like the Angenieux Zooms. I like the way they’re built. They are well-made, and well-constructed. If there’s a very slight color shift between zooms and primes, it’s easy to correct in the DI. That never really worries me.

Did you use any diffusion or filtration?

That’s an interesting point. I sometimes used diffusion. John Madden, the director, wanted the film to look as realistic as possible, so I didn’t over-diffuse it. I used very light diffusion here and there, but nothing that was too noticeable.

Also, the atmosphere where we were shooting, Jaipur, in northwest of India, is a city in desert scrubland. If you can imagine, it’s a bit like California. You don’t really see blue skies very often because there’s dust in the air. When you’re in the city, you don’t see lots of white clouds. It’s very bright this time of year. But everything had a diffused quality already, so we didn’t need to over-diffuse the images with filters.

At night, it gets foggy, so night scenes don’t need diffusion on the lenses either. We did a lot of night shots, and around 2:00 to 4:00 in the morning that time of the year, there was a lot of rolling fog. It could really fog up our whole location. We were very lucky. In some scenes, the background looks like I filled it with smoke, but I didn’t. It’s actually fog. There were a couple of takes with people at night in front of really blown-out highlights from car headlights. But there wasn’t anything wrong with the camera. In India, many people just have their headlights on full-beam or they’re not adjusted very well. It’s quite foggy and dusty and the highlights bloom. There’s nothing you can do about that. That’s just India at night. I haven’t been to many places like that before.

Can you give us an example of how you and John Madden worked together on a particular scene developing a shot or a look?

I can give you a general overview. This was a film consisting of many scenes with complicated camera moves and very good actors. I had worked with quite a few of them before. I operate “A” Camera (the main camera). I have done this on every movie I’ve made. It is a big job when you’re lighting as well. But it’s something I do and I enjoy.

In doing very complicated camera moves with famous actors, their positioning and blocking within the scene is crucial. You’re doing intricate movements around them and designing dolly moves. The thing is, John may be sitting at the monitor and I’d be either tracking left and then pushing into a two-shot or swinging over into a three-shot and then going into a single over-the-shoulder and then pushing in. As we were doing it, he’d understand exactly, always, all the time. He’d know precisely what my problem was and he’d say something like, “Okay, Maggie, you just need to move a little bit to the left and then when the camera’s there, you just move forward a couple of feet so you open up onto that character.” He’s awesome. And this would happen on a daily basis because John just gets it, he sees it, and he makes my job so much easier. If I had to do all of that myself, it would take so much more energy. And then what happens is you get it all lined up and it’s rehearsed really well and you’ve got it and you finally realize, “Oh, you know what? I’ve got to light this bloody scene.” So if you’ve got a director who’s just brilliant like John is, you can do all that because he’s guiding you and helping. It was a perfect collaboration.

The actors were all great. I’ve worked with Judy Dench three to four times, and I’ve worked with Celia Imrie. I’ve worked with Bill Nighy. I hadn’t worked with Richard Gere or Maggie Smith. But when you’ve got that caliber of actors, even though they’re all really nice and easy, you’ve still got to position them where you want them to be. John Madden came from theater and television, and he excels at being able to move the actors into the right positions for the shot to work.

John also understands light. It is quite unique for a director to really get what you’re trying to do with the light, and that makes a huge difference to a cinematographer. For example, you walk into a location, and as a cameraman you naturally want to put the camera in a place that takes advantage of the natural light. You gravitate to where the camera should be. John always understands that. He doesn’t push you into a part of the location that doesn’t really work for the available light. Of course, there were situations, especially in the actual hotel, where we couldn’t shoot at the right time of day to make it work because the schedule wouldn’t allow it. But in general, I wouldn’t be saying to the director, “This is going to look much better here because the light is coming from that direction from behind that building and backlit there.” He understands immediately what you’re trying to do to make the image look much better.

Dev Patel and Tina Desai on the set of THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL. Photo: Laurie Sparham. © Fox Searchlight.

Dev Patel and Tina Desai on the set of THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL. Photo: Laurie Sparham. © Fox Searchlight.

It looks like you use a Cartoni head.

Yes, it’s a Cartoni Maxima head, and I used it for the first time on “Belle.” I really liked it. It’s a bit beefier and stronger than the others. It’s really smooth. When you’ve got an F65 with a big Angenieux zoom on, it’s better because it can take a bit more weight.

Now I own it. When I finished “Marigold Hotel,” I bought it off Movietech. It lives upstairs in my office in my house, three stories up. It’s a bit heavy with the box that it comes in, climbing up all those stairs. I take the head out the box and carry it up separately. But it’s a great head.

Did you have a DIT?

Yes, we had a DIT who came to India. We had a data wrangler as well. An issue I have on pretty much every film I do is that since I’m operating “A” Camera, I don’t get to sit and watch monitors on set. People ask me all the time whether I am interested in grading on the set. I’m not really, to be honest. Because grading should be done by the colorist, at the end, in a suite that probably cost half a million quid in a perfect environment. The colorist is very knowledgeable and very talented in their job. I think if I didn’t operate the camera, maybe I would be sitting in a tent playing around with color wheels and trying to get a certain look. But I can’t do that. I just want to get the densities and contrast right from shot to shot. If you do a location picture, one minute you’re inside, next minute you’re outside, next you’re a night exterior, and then a dark, day interior. I don’t know how you could set look-up tables for all those locations. So I don’t get into it. The colorists all say, “Well, why would you?” And then we spend maybe two or three weeks to grade at the end.

The key thing is that I got the right contrast density in the dailies. Some cinematographers, and I applaud them, set the look to be as a close to how they want it while they’re shooting, so everyone gets used to it in the offline and there are no surprises when you to grade the final film. But the truth is I’ve never had an issue with the final grade anywhere. I just go in there and do what I always thought the film should be like anyway.

Did you use the F65 for everything?

I also took a RED Scarlet with me. I used it for interior car scenes, because it’s smaller or I could make it really small. The cars in the film were tiny. They’re mostly night scenes. They matched nicely. In the digital world, the differences are quite subtle. It’s not like film, where there are big differences between the film stocks.

What about the final DI grading? Where was it done?

It was done at Molinare, which is the company that I use often, with the same grader, Gareth Spensley. He graded “Belle,” and other feature films and TV projects that I’ve done. I trust the company. They’re very good. Their main DI suite is one of the best in London. We graded in that theater, which has a very big screen. We graded on Baselight. Gareth is a genius with that piece of machinery and I always feel very comfortable working with Molinare. John was very happy with them.

Did you grade in 4K or 2K?

I graded in 2K. But they conformed in 4K. The 4K conform was there for us to use, if we ever needed it for more detail or for compositing. But ultimately, the project was 2K.

Did you bring your key crew members from England?

Yes. I took a focus puller, second AC, Steadicam operator (Alastair Rae), DIT, key grip, and data wrangler from England. We had an Indian gaffer. He came highly recommended from somebody I’d worked with before, and he was a very good gaffer.

How big was the total crew?

The crew was massive. I would check the call sheet every day just to see how many people there were. When you added it up, it would very rarely be fewer than 400 people. That’s cast and crew. Sometimes with extras and so on, it went up to a thousand. There were a lot of people. When I first arrived, I wondered, “Wow. How do you work on a film set with so many people?”

But ultimately, the dynamics of the movie process isn’t that much different because all those people are spread out all over the place. There’s definitely more people on an Indian film set than in the West, for sure. But it was manageable, easy to get along, and I enjoyed pretty much all of it.

Did you work with a local production services and house?

The production service company was called India Tech One. They were really helpful. The cameras and all the grip gear came from London. They all got shipped over. The dollies and track and tripods and all the grip gear came from London. The cranes and remote heads came from Mumbai (Scorpio from Servicevision).

Scorpio 30+7 Crane and Scorpio Remote Head

Scorpio 30+7 Crane and Scorpio Remote Head


Our gaffer owned the lighting company in Mumbai. It was was top-notch. We had every type of light. We had moving lights on all the dance numbers at the end. At the wedding party, we had a massive amount of light. Some of the night shoots had really big lighting set-ups. I planned the lighting like I do on every film. If you plan it to the very last detail, it just makes things so much easier when you get there and you just go through as much detail with the director as possible.

We were shooting in a great big colonial fort with big, high walls all the way around it. You could walk all the way round this huge house inside the fort. The surrounding walls of the fort were 30 or 40 feet high and about 15 feet wide. So we could put our lights all the way around, and whichever way we were pointing, we could turn the lights on or off — and take advantage of backlight and three-quarter backlight or whatever. There were always 25 to 30 electricians on every day. So when you ask to move five 18Ks, it gets done very quickly. That’s a big move. We had every HMI from 200 watts to 18K. We had at least two ARRI Maxes and maybe more.

Because it was a contemporary film, I didn’t have any reservations about using all types of light. Apart from LEDs. I haven’t really gotten into LEDs yet. For night interiors we used Dedolights, Kino Flos and small Fresnel units.

Whereas the film I’m doing now, “The Dresser,” is set in 1941. There were no HMI, no Kino Flos, no LED lights. There were just tungsten lamps. It just works for that type of look to use tungsten lamps.

I assume that on “My Week with Marilyn” you did something similar. You avoided modern lights?

Yes, for sure. Especially the studio work. It was all tungsten. I think I probably used some Kino Flos, but mainly we had tungsten lights. For the exteriors I would have used HMIs for sure. But inside of the studio, I just love the look of tungsten light.

The film I’m doing at the moment, “The Dresser,” is obviously set in the theater. We’ve managed to get a DC Carbon Arc Follow Spot. There’s one in the country. They brought it into the studio the other day to show us. It was built in 1936. We’re using it, and it works. The guys came with the carbon arcs and they got the DC power supply and the lamp to work. It’s a nice light. It’s what they would have used in a theater in England in 1941. It’s quite amazing and looks beautiful. It’s got a little funnel on the top and smoke comes out of it. It has a vintage theatrical look, you know, the edges have color fringing and there are daylight carbons and tungsten carbons.

Because “The Dresser” is all set backstage and onstage, there are no exterior scenes. It all takes place over one night. So that DC Carbon Arc, with its daylight carbon, is the only daylight we’re using on the whole film.

What lenses did you use on “Marilyn?”

I used Cooke S5/i on “Marilyn”. That was the first time they’d been used on a film. They looked great. But lately, I think people are obsessed by using old lenses.

What’s your feeling about that?

I did a big commercial in Argentina at the end of last year and I wanted to shoot Anamorphic on the Alexa. I was offered a set of vintage Kowa Anamorphics from Musitelli, the rental house in Uruguay. They had a really interesting look. One of them was just unusable because it just wouldn’t focus at any T-stop. As there were only four in the set, I had three lenses to shoot with. But thosee three were great. I think on my next film I probably would like to shoot Anamorphic.

Ben, thank you so much for your time. It’s been a fascinating discussion.

You’re very welcome, Jon. Cheers, mate.

Photos: Laurie Sparham. © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. 

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Galerie Cinema


Ed Lachman, ASC at the opening of “Galerie Cinema” in New York on March 9.

Galerie Cinema is an exhibition of photos by filmmakers.  It’s open to the public from March 10–April 10, 2015 at Payne Whitney House, 972 5th Avenue (at 79th Street) in New York.  The white-marbled mansion was designed by Stanford White and built from 1902-06 for Payne and Helen Whitney. It’s now the home of the French Embassy’s Cultural Services.

The exhibit is the work of film producer Anne-Dominique Toussaint. She opened her first Galerie Cinema in Paris in September 2013, “dedicated to artists inspired by cinema: cinematographers, photographers, visual artists, and directors who offer the audience a singular perspective on the influence of cinematic arts.”

The New York group show features the work of cinematographers Ed Lachman, ASC and Agnès Godard, AFC; directors Cédric Klapisch, Atiq Rahimi and Jan Kounen; actors James Franco and Vincent Perez;, photographers Kate Barry and Harry Gruyaert; and director-photographer Raymond Depardon.

Ed Lachman’s work includes reprinted Polaroids from “I’m Not There” (2007) for exposure tests on Heath Ledger, Kate Blanchett and Michelle Williams in the Todd Haynes directed drama on Bob Dylan. (Aaton LTR, Angenieux zooms, Canon and Cooke Lenses and Moviecam Compact, Angenieux zooms, Cooke Lenses.) Stills from “Far from Heaven” (2002), with Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid came from  Ed’s Moviecam Compact with Cooke S3 and S4 lenses, and then printed on Baryta Fine Art Paper.

The opening reception on March 9 coincided with the 20th annual New York Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, organized by UniFrance Films, which helps promote French cinema around the world. The Galerie Cinema exhibition, in cooperation with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, was  made possible by Angénieux (thanks Jean-Marc Bouchut for the invitation), Le Fonds Culturel Franco Américain, and Natixis and the optics manufacturer. Support was provided by the Aperture Foundation. 



Ed Lachman, ASC and Galerie Cinema’s Anne-Dominique Toussaint







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1 Codex, 4 Alexa Minis, No Waiting


Normally associated with barbershops (4 barbers no waiting) and Jimmy Contner, when he was a camera operator (2 cameras no waiting)…

Codex announced 8-channel HD-SDI recording for the new ARRI Alexa Mini camera. The Codex recorder will enable simultaneous ARRIRAW recording from 4 Alexa Minis. This will be good for multiple cameras on car rigs, stunts, and multi-camera shoots.

In 16:9 mode, the maximum fps for each camera is 90 fps. The 4 cameras must add up to a maximum of 360 fps. For example, you could have 2 cameras at 120 fps, and 2 at 60 fps.

Frame rates in 4:3 mode to be announced.

Also, ARRI Alexa Mini Product Manager Michael Jonas just posted price: the Alexa Mini body will cost around 32,500 €.

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New ARRI Alexa Mini

2015-02-12-ALEXA-Mini-0010 fdtimes

I’ll bet Chris Haarhoff will like this announcement. He was the Steadicam/Pro-Rig camera operator on “Birdman,” which soared at the Oscars last night, and for which Chris won The SOC Camera Operator Award a couple of weeks ago. “Birdman’s” seamless 6-minute long takes used an ARRI Alexa M (mostly with 18 mm Leica Summilux-C lens) — so a lighter and smaller camera would have been just the ticket.

Here it is. Today, ARRI officially announced the much-whispered  ALEXA Mini.

It has a lightweight carbon fiber housing. This may be a coincidence, but ARRI’s new Co-Managing Director Jörg Pohlman was in charge of the group working with carbon fiber when he was at BMW. The Mini has a titanium PL mount connected directly to a new sensor assembly for unwavering flange focal depth. It can also accept interchangeable lens mounts of the ARRI Amira for B4 video and EF (Canon) mount lenses.

The Alexa Mini can be operated by wireless remote control, as a normal camera with the ARRI MVF-1 multi viewfinder attached, or with an on-board monitor. It has user buttons  on the camera body.

Alexa Mini is compact, quiet and (hurray) has a symmetrical design. You can shoot in almost any orientation: upside-down, portrait mode, straight up, down, etc. There are many mounting points.


A sigh of relief can be heard worldwide today. Alexa Mini comes with a 4:3 sensor. It has an automatic de-squeeze mode for anamorphic lenses. The camera records 0.75-200 fps, ProRes or uncompressed ARRIRAW, either in-camera to CFast 2.0 cards or to a specially-designed external Codex recorder. The Codex recorder can handle up to four image streams simultaneously. For example, you might use 4 Alexa Minis at one time for car rig shots, stunts, or 360° plate shots.

Alexa Mini images will match  all other ALEXA cameras.


Alexa Mini has a built-in lens motor controller. New active lens motors can be connected directly. iOS or Android tablets can be connected via Wi-Fi to remotely control camera functions such as the motorized internal ND filters. Wow–internal ND in something this small.


The Mini has been designed with brushless gimbal mounts, multicopters, gyro-stabilized aerial systems and other rigs in mind. You can smell the fiberglass resin and milling machine oil: underwater housing manufacturers are already at work.


Like the ARRI Amira, the Alexa Mini can record UHD ProRes images and provide real-time 4K/UHD output.


The ARRI Alexa Mini is scheduled to ship in May 2015. A prototype of the ALEXA Mini will be on show at the British Video Expo (BVE) from February 24-26, 2015, in Booth J30.

It will also be at NAB.


ALEXA Mini microsite: www.arri.com/alexamini

2015-02-12-ALEXA-Mini-0009-fdtimes ALEXA-Mini-+-Freefly-Gimbal-M15-FDTimes-16 2015-02-12-ALEXA-Mini-0013 fdtimes





35mm digital camera with lightweight and compact carbon fiber body, 4:3/16:9 switchable active sensor area, support for ARRI MVF-1 viewfinder, built-in remote control capabilities via ARRI Electronic Control System and Wi-Fi, support for cforce motors, built-in motorized ND filters, interchangable lens mounts and ARRI Lens Data System


  • Length: 185 mm/7.3″
  • Width: 125 mm/4.9″
  • Height: 140 mm/5.5″

(camera body with PL lens mount)


~ 2.3 kg/5 lbs (camera body with titanium PL lens mount)


35 mm ARRI Alev III CMOS 

Photo sites

(with surround view)


  • HD: 2880×1620 (3168×1772)
  • 2K: 2868×1612 (3154×1764)
  • 3.2K: 3200×1800 (3424×1926)
  • 4K UHD: 3200×1800 (3424×1926)


  • 2K: 2867×2150 (3168×2160) (may not be available at product launch, available as a software upgrade later in 2015)


Electronic shutter, 5.0° to 356.0°

Exposure latitude

14+ stops — EI 160 to EI 3200 (measured with the ARRI Dynamic Range Test Chart DRTC-1)

Exposure index

EI 800 base sensitivity


Built-in motorized ND filters 0.6, 1.2, 2.1 — and clear.

Lens mounts

  • Titanium PL mount with L-Bus connector and LDS
  • EF mount
  • PL mount with Hirose connector and LDS
  • B4 mount with Hirose connector

Recording media

CFast 2.0 memory cards

Recording formats

  • HD 1920×1080
  • 2K Cine 16:9 2048×1152
  • 2K Cine 4:3 2048×1536 *
  • 3.2K 3200×1800
  • 4K UHD 3840×2160
  • ARRIRAW 2.8K 16:9 2880×1620 *
  • ARRIRAW 2.8K 4:3 2880×2160 *

Recording codec

ProRes 4444XQ, 4444, 422 (HQ), 422, 422(LT), ARRIRAW *

* may not be available at product launch, available as a software upgrade later in 2015

Color output

Rec 709, custom look or Log C

Look control

Import of custom 3D LUT, ASC CDL  (slope, offset, power, saturation)

Adjustable image parameters

Knee, gamma, saturation, black gamma, saturation by hue

Focus and exposure control

Peaking, zebra, false color

White balance

Manual and auto white balance

Sound level

< 20 dB(A) at standard frame rates


  • -20° C to +50° C (-4° F to +122° F) @ 95% humidity max, non-condensing
  • Splash and dust-proof with sealed electronics


  • Multi Viewfinder MVF-1 (OLED and LCD ) with flip-out LCD screen
  • and military-grade connector to camera

Control interface

  • Soft buttons and OSD on SDI output,
  • integration of Transvideo StarliteHD touch interface *

ARRI lens motor control

  • Built-in radio interface for ARRI lens control
  • L-Bus motor output for daisy-chainable cforce lens control motors

Wi-Fi remote control

  • Built-in Wi-Fi interface and web-based remote control from phones,
  • tablets and laptops

Custom control

Optional GPIO interface for integration with custom control interfaces

Power input

Lemo 8-pin, 10.5-34 V DC

Video outputs

  • 2x HD-SDI out 1.5G and 3G: uncompressed HD video with embedded audio
  • metadata, SDI-6G interface to external CODEX recorder *


  • SDI-Genlock (optional activation through ARRI Service),
  • timecode (in and output)

Other connectors

  • USB 2.0 (for usersets, looks etc.)
  • Ethernet
  • EXT accessory interface w. RS pin




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AMIRA SUP 2.0 & 3.0 Updates



ARRI Amira SUP 2.0 

Scheduled for release in March 2015, SUP 2.o promises UHD recording with the purchase of a license at the ARRI License Shop (and camera sensor calibration at an ARRI service center for cameras purchased in 2014).

It lets you record codecs up to ProRes 4444 in UHD 3840 x 2160 resolution onto the in-camera CFast 2.0 cards,  up to 60 fps. There are options for in-camera de-noising, sharpening and detailing tools.

Amira SUP 2.0 includes ProRes 3.2K recording (for compatibility with ALEXA cameras running ALEXA SUP 11.0); WiFi remote support; audio monitoring of individual channels; additional lock functions to prevent the accidental pressing of buttons or switches; frame rate adjustments while in pre-record mode; frame grabs from the live camera image; and more.


This is scheduled for release in mid-2015.

The main new feature is recording MPEG-2 422P@HL at 50 Mbit/s in an MXF wrapper. (This is an HD format.) This XDCAM-compatible MPEG-2 recording format is geared toward television production. It’s a frugal codec that doesn’t eat bandwidth, is widely accepted in broadcast production, and provides long recording times on the memory card.

SUP 3.0 also will include a camera remote control interface for multi-camera live or scripted productions; Super 16 mm lens support and an intervalometer function for time-lapse.

Audio Receiver slot

A new audio accessory will be released. It’s an extension on the back of the camera body with a slot for a wireless audio receiver.

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ARRI Alexa Updates


ARRI released new Updates for Alexa and Amira. A wave of additional news is expected soon.
ALEXA SUP 11.0 with ProRes 3.2K 

Software Update Packet (SUP) 11.0 for Alexa is now ready for download.

Alexa’s 11th software update includes ProRes 3.2K recording and ADA-5 (enhanced debayering for improved image quality).

ProRes 3.2K is available for Alexa XT and Classic cameras with the XR Module upgrade. It uses a larger 3.2K picture area of the Alexa sensor and can still be covered by most Super 35 PL mount lenses. Data rates are far less than uncompressed ARRIRAW. You can up-sample Alexa ProRes 3.2K in post to 4K/UHD if desired.

SUP 11.0 lets all Alexa cameras work with  all generations of SxS PRO+ cards, and XT/XR cameras now accept SanDisk CFast 2.0 128 GB cards.

SUP 11.0 supports ARRI’s new Lens Data Encoder LDE-1 and new features of the WCU-4 wireless hand unit.

There’s also improved web remote control, refined user buttons, and the ability to save frame line and time zone information in the camera metadata.

Alexa XT/XR cameras will now record a checksum with each ARRIRAW frame. This helps verify data integrity, making it safer and faster to copy/clone. The latest version of Codex software must be used to read SUP 11.0 ARRIRAW files.

ADA-5 provides clearer and sharper images and smoother, cleaner edges — especially in high-contrast details (like thin branches against a blue sky), which will exhibit. ADA-5 also further reduces noise in the red and blue channels, which helps bluescreen VFX. ADA-5 has been available through the ARRIRAW Converter since ARC 3.1 and as part of the ARRIRAW Software Developer’s Kit (SDK); it has also been used in the AMIRA camera since AMIRA SUP 1.1.






New from RVZ Paris

RVZ showed some interesting new products at AFC Micro Salon last week.


Their prototype rectangular ring light (contradiction in terms — but still a good name) attaches to the front of an LMB5 mattebox. It’s LED, bi-color daylight-tungsten, and dimmable. Nowhere is it written that a beauty eye-light must be round, and rather than fitting something round around something square-ish makes great sense. Especially if you’re tired of seeing round rings in models’ eyes all the time. You can also change the shape by turning off individual sections of the light. So you can have single lines of light, or L-shapes, or equal sign (=) light.


RVZ has a new split diopter holder that rotates and accommodates a full selection of split diopters of different powers. This is great for shots where you have two really close objects in different parts of the frame and you still want to hold focus for something at normal distance. For example, Sergio Leone afficianados attempting the remake of  “For a Few Diopters More” can have not one bad guy swatting flies on his face in glorious close-up, but two — on either side of the widescreen 2.40 frame. And far off, in the center of frame, the good guy enters the swinging doors of the saloon. The possibilities are endless and very good.

RVZ showed a set of PL mount modified Hasselblad V-lenses (classic series for the 500 / 2000 / 200 / 900 camera family). 56 x 56 mm image coverage. Pictures pending.


10847633_RVZRVZ also announced the start of a new company providing DIT services. Working with some of the top French DITs, they have new carts for on-set and near-set work to do downloads, backup, cloning, data management and grading. There are small, portable laptop based units and carts with the latest Mac Pro rack mounted with Promise RAID arrays (photos above.)

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AFC Micro Salon


Darius Khondji, AFC, ASC and Vittorio Storaro AIC, ASC at Micro Salon


Images of AFC Micro Salon, Feb 6-7. This was the 15th year of the annual expo and seminars held at la fémis in Montmartre–organized by the Association of French Cinematographers. Photos by Garry Yankson and Hugues Faure from EMIT. Click on first thumbnail for slideshow.


Andreas Kaufmann, Leica Camera


Andreas Kaufmann, Chairman of Leica Camera, with Leica S.


Interview with Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, Chairman of Leica Camera, on the Leica Summilux-C cine lenses and the Academy Scientific and Engineering Award. 

Leica Summilux-C lenses got a Sci-Tech Oscar on Saturday, Feb 8. As the lenses were developed, I had interviewed most of the cast of characters involved in developing them. But we had never really discussed the point of view of Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, Chairman of Leica Camera. Here is his interesting narrative on how these lenses came about.

How is the Sci-Tech award important to you and to Leica?

We are delighted to receive a Sci-Tech Award for our Summilux-C lenses. It is an honor for us and for our customers, not only for the cine lenses but also for the rest of Leica itself.

So the “glamor and excitement” of Hollywood might spill over into your still world?

Well, if there’s glamor and excitement connected with the Scientific and Technical Award, yes.

How did the Summilux-C project begin?

In 2005, we were told  by the Leica management that somebody had come to the company and offered the idea of producing Cine lenses. They were German guys and they proposed building cine lenses based on the architecture of the Leica Reflex Camera R lenses. That’s when a few other people came into the picture. There was Christian Skrein, in November ’05, with the connection to Otto Nemenz. I had the first meeting with Otto shortly after. Knut Heitmann, our former manager of research and development at Leitz, suggested that I talk to a fellow in Italy named Iain Neil.

We decided that the project could not be done within Leica at that time because we had started re-structuring the company. This was towards the end of  ’05 – beginning ’06. I had a talk with Ian Neil, the optical designer. At the time, he was at Media Lario, an Italian company near Brescia, Italy. I met him there. We agreed to work on this project. He added two former colleagues from Elcan (Leitz Canada) to the team. One gentleman was Bill McCreath, and the other was André de Winter. We already knew André, because he also worked for Leica in Wetzlar. Then they added one or two other guys from the former Elcan team. This was set up in ’06 as a virtual Leica cine lens design team.

Who did what?

Iain was the optical designer. Bill McCreath supervised sourcing of components, and still is today. André de Winter was the mechanical designer. There were quite a few other individuals involved.

Including you.

Yes, there was a little bit of Kaufmann.

I should also say that Uwe Weller was part of the success. He and his company were the only ones who really were able to make the mechanical design a reality. The cams and cam followers were designed in such a way that they were the most complicated curves Weller ever did. (The distance from 6 feet to infinity is the same on every lens in the set, and the spacing between these focus marks is mechanically expanded.) It was a design that most people said basically you couldn’t produce, with tolerances of something like a micron. So, Weller Fine-Mechanics is part of our company, and they were also a great part of the success.

Why was there an interest in doing these lenses in the first place?

During the restructuring of Leica Camera it was very clear that one key element at Leica was the optical competence in designing, developing and producing optics. When we started to look into this segment, we thought it would make a lot of sense for Leica to also be established in the cine lens market.

How did you organize all this?

First we had to find someone to finance it because we decided to do it outside of Leica.

That was you?


I decided on behalf my family and me and to organize it as a separate entity. When we got the first order from Otto Nemenz, I would say that sort of gave us the push to say, “Yes, we can do it.”

Why were the lenses so difficult to build?

Well, Iain was very clear and until now he’s right. We had to build lenses that look into the digital world and go beyond 4K with 8K at the horizon. They should also work with film cameras. They should be the smallest and most compact prime lenses. So he went for a design that I would say, in terms of production, basically skipped the word “tolerances.” In production, it’s easier to do something where you have a certain amount of tolerance built in. Here, they’re basically non-existent for certain lens elements. We also have a very unique asphere from a very strange glass material which also has to be glued to another non-aspheric element, etcetera. So we have quite a few tricky things built in. It’s a masterpiece, but hard to produce.

In your opinion, what is the great appeal and what’s so unique about these lenses?

It’s a great combination of a few things that are hard to combine. They’re really small. They are not heavy. They have the same front diameter. They have a very special focus scale where all the focus marks are in the same position. And they have a very special look. I really must say that Iain and his team designed these lenses with a Leica look that is beautiful. It’s crisp. It’s rare. It has pleasing qualities of depth of field that you can play with. They are all T1.4. It’s a combination of quite a few things.

How would you define the Leica look?

Very natural and smooth skin tones.

Very crisp eyelashes, yet skin is silky smooth.

Especially when you work with the depth of field.

A lot of rental houses are asking for more sets, despite the fact that they’re hard to get. What can you tell them?

We have ramped up production since November 2014. We delivered around 140 sets, and have at least 3 times as many more on order, which is quite a lot.

Here we are with a brave new digital world where many cinematographers are resisting an  unadorned, sharp look. How do these lenses help address that?

For example, David Fincher’s Gone Girl was shot mainly with Leica Summilux-C lenses at very low light levels. He shot completely on RED cameras. I think our lenses helped to create this look in the digital world because they capture the light in a certain way.


What other features were they used on?

Summilux-C lenses were on Birdman, Iron Man 3, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon II, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash, and many others.

I read an article in FT (Financial Times). Why is Leica Camera doing so well?

We’re doing quite nicely.  We’re investing in three serious products which we will show in 2015, 2016. Leica has always been in a very special part of the market, and we keep it that way and try to also go up-market. We developed the S system as a professional system and we acquired the brand Sinar to go into the medium format. We think we can carve out a very comfortable niche in the market.

And does that include cine?


Can you explain how your different companies are associated? You have an alphabet soup of ACM, CW, Leica, and so on.


ACM, our holding company, owns 100% of CW Sonderoptic and 55% of Leica Camera.

And where does Leica Camera go from here?

We will announce some new things at NAB and at IBC. We will try to speed up production of the Summilux-C lenses. We will try to get as many sets out as possible. The Summicron-C lenses are doing well. A little known detail is that even though they are PL mount, most can cover 24 by 36 mm format, which for certain cameras and productions makes sense.

Coming back to the Sci-Tech Awards and Hollywood, every good film cries out for a good ending. And when the film is successful, there’s a sequel. The interesting and good story here is the journey of Summilux-C cine lenses receiving a technical Oscar. There’s drama and conflict. They were designed to the most incredible, “impossible” standards ever dreamed of. Is there a sequel?

I sometimes say, “We will never produce a lens like this again.”

What, never?

Well, hopefully it will be something brilliant.

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Big News: Hawk 65 Lenses


Vantage Film announced three new sets of lenses for 65mm format.

  • Hawk65 Anamorphic
  • Hawk65 Anamorphic Vintage’74
  • Hawk65 MAX for Imax

They have all been designed from scratch for 65mm digital sensors. Of course, they will also cover any other format between 35mm – 65mm.

  • Hawk65 Anamorphic includes prime lenses from 35 mm to 250 mm and front anamorphic zooms.
  • Hawk65 Anamorphic Vintage ’74 is a version of the Hawk65 Anamorphics with lower contrast, flares, and creamy skin tones that create the signature aesthetic of the 1970s for 65mm large format sensors.
  • Hawk65 MAX consists of several wide and medium angle lenses and has been developed for IMAX format and other giant screen applications.

Many more details to follow–including an interview with Peter Martin of Vantage. No, they are not being developed with ARRI. Yes, they will fit the new ALEXA 65. Yes, they will be available in the same way as the current Hawk lenses–rental and through partner companies.

Meanwhile, see the Vantage Website.

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Leica Summilux-C Sci-Tech Oscar


L-R: Erik Feichtinger, Christian Skrein, André de Winter, Iain Neil, Andreas Kaufmann, Gerhard Baier

Feb 8. Beverly Wilshire Hotel. An Academy Scientific and Engineering Award was presented to Iain Neil for the optical design and André de Winter for the mechanical design of the Leica Summilux-C lenses. (In photo above, L-R: Erik Feichtinger, Managing Director, CW Sonderoptic; Christian Skrein, Member of the Board: André de Winter, Mechanical Designer; Iain Neil, Optical Designer, Andreas Kaufmann, Chairman of Leica Camera and CW Sonderoptic; Gerhard Baier, Managing Director, CW Sonderoptic.

A day later, at the SOC (Society of Camera Operators) Awards at Paramount, Chris Haarhoff won the 2015 Camera Operator of the Year Award for his work on Birdman, shot with entirely with an 18mm Leica Summilux-C (handheld and rig.)

Summilux-C lenses were also used on Gone Girl  and The Theory of Everything.

Like a film, it takes a large and brilliant crew to design, develop and build lenses. Part of the team from  CW Sonderoptic Team responsible for  the Leica Summilux-C lenses are in the photo above. Interviews to follow.



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EMIT at Micro Salon 2015

It’s Micro Salon time again in Paris. The 15th annual expo, screening and seminars takes place in La Fémis film school, formerly the Pathé Montmartre Studios.

Emit is a major distributor of interesting products. Once again, the Emit booth will have lots of new products, and the Emit team and their manufacturing partners will be on hand for hands-on demos and explanations.

The new Motorized Slider by Ronford Baker was first seen as a prototype at Cinec. The RB sliders are already known for their precision, smoothness and reliability–and they come in all kinds of lengths. It is now possible to motorize them. This unit will give you programmable soft stops with adjustable feathering of both starts and stops. It will be able to reach a maximum speed of 1 ft/sec with a Max Load of 70 kg. It can work up to a distance of 100 meters and is also can move vertically.

The Gizmo Remote Head from A&C comes with new Gyro Assist modules. It is designed for  Film or TV cameras, providing impressive performance even at incredibly low speeds. You can adjust the Tilt balance. The GIZMO 100 has also Pan balance adjustment.

The unique ball bearing gimbal Maxima MX30 for cameras  up to 30 kg come from Betz Tools and FomaSystems. It works while riding, walking, driving or docked on a tripod. This gimbal stabilizes electronically all  3 axes (tilt, pan and roll).

This is the premiere of Chrosziel’s new MB 565 Cine 1 Mattebox. It was developed as “one mattebox system for multiple configurations”. The new MB 565 CINE1 Swing Away is a Mattebox for 19 mm/15 mm rods ( with 1 to 3 Filterholders) that can easily be transformed into single Lighweight Clip-On. The version on rods has a Swing Away Bracket that is adjustable H / V +/- 5mm with a Tilt function to reduce reflections. Its 150 diameter rear and wide-angle housing work with a large number of lenses.

Panther’s new innovative Precision Leveling Tracks will save an incredible amount of time on set thanks to their integrated leveling system. Various telescopic tubes offer you many variable leveling possibilities from 0 cm up to 67 cm / 26.4″.

The Swedish “Touch” is a new Gimbal Rig Easyrig Vest with the Serene Arm and the Puppeteer. These complementary accessories help to stabilize cameras with an incredible simplicity. It works nicely with DJI Ronin or Movi anord Flowcine.

Cooke will show their entire line of Anamorphic/i lenses.

Also featured at the EMIT booth:

The latest range of accessories for the Starlite HD Transvideo monitor.

The Cmotion Pan Bar Zoom Control. 

The new PAGLINK HC-PL94 Battery Gold Mount.

The Micro Salon is always full of interesting people and equipment and this edition will not be an exception!



Rune Ericson 1924-2015


Rune Ericson, FSF passed away, age 90, while on vacation in Thailand.

Father of Super 16 and 3-perf, he was a cinematographer, inventor, distributor, and fellow sailor.

Article in FDTimes: The Early Years of Super 16 and How it All Started

Notice on Swedish Society of Cinematographers website

Lars Pettersson, FSF, writes,

“Rune was also a small aircraft pilot, scuba diver, guitarist, pianist, a quite capable singer, and he also painted in oil–very well!

“My colleague Roland Sterner, FSF and I conducted an interview with Rune in November last year and would then never have imagined receiving this terrible news so soon afterwards.

“As Rune’s contributions to both Swedish cinema and indeed the international film industry itself spans over more than half a century, encompasses over 60 feature films, including numerous cherished audience favourites,  as well as launching the Super 16 format, championing the 3-perf 35mm format, being the CEO of a film lab, the Scandinavian representative of Panavision, Aaton and Cooke among others, and indeed receiving an Academy Award for his achievements(!) — they are somewhat beyond words.

“Our thoughts and feelings are with his family at this time.”

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Enzo Castellari at USC


Enzo G. Castellari was born on July 29, 1938 in Rome, Lazio, Italy as Enzo Girolami. He directed “A Few Dollars for Django (Pochi dollari per Django),” the original “The Inglorious Bastards (Quel maledetto treno blindato),” “Any Gun Can Play,” “Keoma,” “One Dollar Too Many,” among many other films. Currently, Enzo is in preproduction on a new film starring legendary Spaghetti Western actor (and Keoma star) Franco Nero. He is the son of director Marino Girolami, aka Franco Martinelli. 

Enzo Castellari’s “KEOMA” was shown in a special screening at the USC  Albert and Dana Broccoli Theatre on December 9, 2014. Presented by Band Pro Film & Digital, the screening Q&A was moderated by Jon Fauer, ASC.

The next day, Enzo was the guest of honor of Amnon Band at the annual Band Pro Expo and Open House. Enzo  signed autographs for a devoted following of admirers. Amnon  presented Enzo with a famous Frederick Remington bronze “The Bronco Buster.” An original is in the White House. When Theodore Roosevelt was presented with the statue in 1898, he said, “There could have been no more appropriate gift…” Enzo Castellari said, “But this is in the White House. I am overwhelmed. It is magnificent.”


About “KEOMA” (1976)

Franco Nero (Django, The Fifth Cord) is KEOMA, a half-breed gunfighter weary of killing as a way of life. But when he returns to his troubled childhood home, Keoma is caught in a savage battle between innocent settlers, sadistic bandits and his vengeful half-brothers. In a wasteland gone mad with rage and pain, can one man massacre his way to redemption? Directed by Enzo G. Castellari . With Woody Strode (“Once Upon a Time in the West”), William Berger (“Django Strikes Again”) and Olga Karlatos (“Zombie)” Considered one of the greatest Spaghetti Westerns of all time.

 Introduction to the screening of Keoma at USC on Dec 9. 2014

My father was director. A great pleasure for me after school was to see my father with a car waiting to take me to the editing room where he was working on his movies. I have always been fascinated by editing.

A big surprise for all the American actors who came to Italy to work on my movies was when I would explain in detail how everything would be cut. Each morning, I would describe how a certain shot would be a close-up, another would be a dolly shot, and then a wide shot. I would explain it so everybody knew the way that I would edit the scene. Two days or three days later, the actors could see the edited scene that we already had shot.

When I am editing, I need music. Not just any kind of music—but the music that I think is perfect for the scene. For “Keoma,” I did the editing with a scratch track of music from Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. I used all their songs. It was perfect for me. I used it for the timing, and to convey the meaning of the song.

In “Keoma,” there are lyrics about death in some of the songs. This provides punctuation for the theme about death in the movie. The songs of Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan gave me the chance to find exactly what I was thinking during the shooting. When it was time for our musicians to score the film, they asked what kind of music I wanted? Since it was already a final cut, I said, “Just watch the film silently and the you will feel how the music is already there.

You’ve said that “Keoma” is your favorite film. Why?

It was wonderful to be able to do this movie. It was the one that built my career. I don’t know what other kind of job can give you this possibility and this chance. I’m very grateful and I’m still in love with this movie. I love it,.

Well, I hope everyone in the audience will enjoy it as much. Let’s screen the film and then we’ll be back to do a Q&A.

Please don’t fight with me by asking questions that will be too difficult for me to answer. I hope you enjoy “Keoma.”

After screening of “Keoma”


How did you get started in the film business?

I was so lucky. I was born into the movie business, which made it was relatively easy. I started as an actor when I was child, and then worked as assistant to the assistant director, assistant director, then script writer, editor and everything else. I was lucky to have the movie business in the family. When I was an assistant, I was at the same time the editor of some of my father’s movies. Fortunately, my father never complained about my editing.

I really learned everything from him as well as from all the movies that I did as an assistant director with other directors. A love affair with the movies helped me throughout my entire career.

I think you told me earlier that you studied art and architecture.

I was about 17 years old when I began studies in the history of art and drawing. I attended the Academy of Fine Arts and then University in Architecture. All of these studies helped me in my work as a director. They helped me tin discussions with the art director and the costume designer because I could draw sketches with a pencil. I could explain shots by drawing them for the director of photography.

What advice do you have for students in the audience today?

It has been a wonderful, unbelievable life for me. My advice for students ios that you must study, first of all, and then the occasion will come. I repeat, I was very lucky because my father, as a director/producer, gave me the chance to direct. I was 23 when I did my first movie. At the time, many Westerns were made in Spain and he was a co-producer on a Spanish film and I was the assistant director. But as soon as I reached the set it was recognized that the Spanish director was not so great. I asked my father to visit us on location. He came and said, “From tomorrow, you will help direct. But let the Spanish director say, ‘Action.’

In “Keoma,” the art direction really stands out. How did you establish the style of the film?

I must come back to the first movie with my name on it, “Seven Winchesters For A Massacre.” (1967, aka “Renegade Riders.” During the production, I went to the cinema and watched “The Appaloosa,” (1966) directed by Sydney J. Furie. It was with Marlon Brando and John Saxon. It was unbelievable for me to see the way that Sydney J. Furie was using the Techniscope format, with its a big, wide rectangular shape.

When you do a close-up, you must to put the actor in the right, center, or left, but there is a lot of empty space on the screen. Sydney J. Furie always composed by keeping something interesting in this space. Your attention goes to the close-up, but you sense the location. And that concept became part of my style. It gave me the chance to put several things in the close-ups.

One remarkable scene for me is the two-shot where the Keoma and his father are on the porch. You’re doing a circular dolly move and you keeping the two characters on both edges of the frame.

Thank you for noticing that. I like this shot as well. We re-wrote the dialog every day. For this scene, I asked John Loffredo (Joshua Sinclair), the brother with the gold tooth, to write the dialog that would include life, family and love. I wanted to do it in one shot and move from left to right. It was not easy. But soon I found the right speed of dollying and it was actually simpler to do than to imagine.

Take us through the history of the Italian Westerns. This was one of the last of the Spaghetti Westerns. Why?

The genre was completely finished. But Franco and I always said the Western will never die. One of the first movies, “The Great Train Robbery” was Western. “Western all’italiana” (Italian-Style Westerns) had a big, unbelievable time. More than 600 were made. At the end they became comic, stupid, and more than stupid.

How did first Italian Westerns get started?

History says that Sergio Leone did the first important Western with Clint Eastwood with “A Fist Of Dollars” (1964). It was a great success everywhere in the world. But before that, we did several. Not good ones like Sergio Leone. Sergio Leone gave Italy the chance to do a lot of Westerns and especially the chance for good assistant directors to become directors. That was because there were many movies to shoot every year and not enough directors. He gave us the chance.

What was the reason for the decline?

Good question. I would like to know. Unfortunately, television, bad movies, comedies and panettone movies. They are called panettoni movies because they come out around Christmas time—comic and vulgar, all of them. I can understand why people, with all their daily problems, want to go to cinema just to laugh and to forget their trouble. But there were really too many movies made in this way.

Too bad for all of us. There are not many producers or distributors left in Italy. I was shooting three movies every year. It was enough to have a story, to have Franco Nero as leading character, and Enzo G. Castellari as the director. Now, there is no way that to repeat that wonderful dream.

But I think you are repeating the dream. Tell us a little about your upcoming project.

As I told you, the Western will never die. My next film is “The Angel, The Brute and the Wise.” It is an homage to Sergio Leone and an homage to the cinematography of the Western. The producers wanted to do the movie in South Africa because they are shooting a lot of TV series in South Africa. But the right place to do a Western is where I have done most of them all my life, in Almeria, Spain. The Western town in Almeria is much better than before because they developed it as a tourist attraction.

So we met with the owner of the Western town in Almeria, and he said that if we came in with this project, he has everything we need: horses, props, the town, and lots of locations.
So now we go to Almeria to do the movie.

In “Keoma,” did you build all the sets and the locations? Tell us about the art direction.

“Keoma” was shot in Northern Italy. I didn’t destroy the village because it was already destroyed. I will explain. The Western town was completely run down. And the idea in “Keoma” that I pushed to have was this background. There’s this village and the mine. I put in a lot of machines and the strange wheel where he’s tied up. I asked the art director to bring everything that you could find with rust and iron. And that became a style. The saloon and interiors were also shot in the village.

Where was the beautiful, uninhabited area?

That was Abruzzo. (About 2 hours’ drive east of Rome, a third of its territory is set aside as a park. It has the largest area in Europe for national parks and protected nature reserves.)
Abruzzo Promozione Turismo

Tell us about the script.

There really was no script. We are just invented as we went along. We shot the first two days in the village and then I said, “I think that the last scene should be made here.” Which last scene? Well, of course, Keoma has to kill the brothers. That’s clear. I found it was very simple for me to shoot in this little village. The third day was the last scene of the movie that we saw already with the lady and death and the three brothers.

For me, it’s easy to invent action. During the movie, Franco would sometimes ask me what was happening next. But I would let them know. Everyone was believing in me. But I didn’t always tell the producer or the actors what I had in mind. I knew, scene by scene, according to my editing that it was interesting. I knew when we needed action, or a moment, or a sentimental scene. The film was in my mind, but I did not need to explain it to everybody.

So, we went day by day. “Tomorrow I will explain. And then, after tomorrow, you will know,” I told the actors.

We’ll open this up to questions from the audience. But before I forget, Enzo Castellari will be at Band Pro Film and Digital Open House on Thursday December 11 from 1:00 to 8:00 P.M. There will be spaghetti, of course.

Not chicken, please. Thank you Band Pro for inviting me.

No chicken. Enzo Castellari doesn’t like chicken. Let’s discuss craft service on your movies. Just kidding. Let’s discuss technical things. Earlier, we were talking about the switch from film to digital and how you were embracing digital intermediates. Have you noticed if the way you’re shooting has changed over the years as the equipment has evolved — or it doesn’t matter?

When technique will help me in my filming, I’m happy, absolutely happy. But talking about film and digital, several of my colleagues said, “Ah, no. I want film, only film.” Why? For what? I teach in several schools because I like to teach and I like to give back some of what I have learned. I want to give to the students some my experience.

When we arrive at the moment where they must do a short movie in the school, many of the students say they want to do it with the film. But I say, “You may never touch or see film again. You can go near cameras and see the assistant in charge of loading film in the camera, and you will say, “Oh, this is film.” But you will probably never work with it because the labs are disappearing and it becomes more difficult to see rushes. Now, it’s digital from the moment that you shoot until the end; It is all digital. Not film.

The camera still is not always digital. You can still shoot in film. But the rest of the production is digital.

I was born with the film. I born with the cameras. But now, digital gives me unbelievable opportunities. Only people who worked with film before can appreciate how fantastic it is to work in digital. There is no limit to the fantasy. You can do everything. I did “Caribbean Basterds” (2010) in Margarita Island, Venezuela. The story, I don’t care. It’s enough to go to the Caribbean Sea. But the island was awful. The sea was an unbelievably green color. But sometimes the sun would disappear, which was really a disaster. But at the end, the color correction was a miracle. I could say, “May I have more blue? More blue in Franco Nero’s eyes?” And they colorist would say yes and the machine would go “beep-beep-beep-beep.” “But the sea is too green.” “We can have a better blue—oh, yes. Fantastic.” “But what a shame there wasn’t sun that day.” “Oh, you want some sun?” “Okay. Da-da-da-da.”

There is no limit to the fantasy with digital. As you know, I was born with film and now I am in love with digital. In love, absolutely.

Tell us a little about working with Franco Nero. He seems to be your favorite actor.

Yes. Favorite actor, big friend and everything. He is in love with the movies. When we discuss the story, he sometimes suggests several things, but in his own way. He’s a very good actor. He can learn all kind of dialogue. When he suggest something, I listen. I know him so well that I catch on immediately. His ideas are always something good because he’s in love with the movie, with the cinema.

Soemtimes he suggests things for the other characters, not for his own character. He’s a helper during the movie. And he is also such a nice person, so kind and so wonderful. Maybe he has to change wardrobe. There may not be a camper around. He changes where he can. He is easy going. We are close friends and he will be, of course, in my next movie. He’s the angel in “The Angel, The Brute and the Wise.”.

Of course. Now let’s invite audience questions.

Westerns have been very popular in Italy and in Europe. What makes American culture from that time period so interesting to Italian moviegoers?

There is a difference. When Italian Spaghetti Westerns arrived and became a big success, we did not have the American traditions. We did not have the history of the American West. That’s why we had to re-invent it, in our own way. We put more action, more blood, more humor, a lot of other things together that we didn’t see in the American movies. I think it’s because Americans needed to stay true to their own history. But we didn’t care about the history. We cared about the movie, the story. And so that was the beginning of the difference between American Westerns and Italian Westerns.

Now I like to see wonderful American Westerns because I am tired of Italian Westerns. I’m also looking forward to my next Western.

What are your favorite American Westerns?

Well, “Monument Valley” is the target for all of us.

What Italian Westerns were shot in the U.S.?

“Once Upon A Time In The West,” “My Name Is Nobody,”

Very few.

I just wanted to ask, you know, in the Frank Wolff documentary with you and Sergio Corbucci, it looks like you’re teaching them how to fight. Were you a fighter or a stunt man?

Well, boxing is my family’s sport. You know, my father was a European champ.

And the first toys that my brothers and I had were boxing gloves. so it was in all the–I’m going around, round, I found the place, but especially there is a gym closer to…

When you’re shooting a feature, you have X number of shooting days. How do you budget your days when you don’t really have the script on-hand in advance?

Well, this is the experience of being born in the movie business. It’s impossible to know how many days, how many hours, but I’m very sure of what I am doing and completing on time. I’m accustomed to finding the right time, and the right way for calculating the days.

In the script, was there a clear political correctness in 1976. Were you aware of an agenda for political correctness or was it just the way the script was?

First of all, I’m not involved in politics nor was my family. My father was not involved in politics. Me, neither. I don’t care about the political meaning of my movies. I just follow the story, follow the character. I never thought about the political situation or the consequences.

I do have a question, but I’d like to make a compliment first. I think when you said that you were inventing every day, you know, it was kind of intuitive for you. I really like the fragmentation of the narrative. I really loved how it came piece by piece and Keoma looked at something and he had a memory. I felt that you had all these broken pieces of wood, nothing was solid, so that there was light and dark, pieces of lace and cobwebs at the same time. And the opening where you have the window that opened and closed. Did that come to you at the beginning or did that come to you after this whole film kind of pulled together with all of these fragments?

Thank you, thank you. I like that very much. That shot was the first shot of the movie, the first day, the first action. Well, my collaboration is great with the camera operator. Not too much with the director of photography, but the camera operator because he’s my eyes. He has to do exactly what I want. I do drawings first to explain things. “I want this black, black, black and the window on the right.” And we were going around this little village to find the place where we can shoot this because I was so sure of that shot that I was drawing it exactly, with the window on the extreme right.

What my camera operator did was wonderful during the entire movie. I remember there is a moment during the last fight where Woody Strode is running up the steps and going into the saloon. There are squibs and splinters and things flying around in front of the camera.

And the cameraman said, you will see in the dailies that there is one frame with the close-up of Woody where he is in the middle of all this. So it was wonderful that he could catch this action even down to the individual frame. This is so important for me. One of the first things I discuss with production is who will be the cameramen because I collaborate with them much more than with the DP.

Just to clarify, when you say cameraman, that’s the camera operator.

Camera operator, yes. We say “al buco,” to the hole. “Occhi al buco,” eye to the hole (viewfinder).

For your next movie, will you be shooting in Italian or English?

English. All my movies are shot in English.

Franco Nero, he does his own voice in English?

Yes. Did you hear the movie? It was his voice.

How did you come up with the idea of this ending of the film where the pregnant woman is delivering? I noticed when he shot the brother, she screams more. How did you come up what that idea?

Good. Unbelievable question. When I was doing the sound mix, where we put together dialogue, music and sound effects, we adjust the levels, We can make the music louder, or the dialog, to put the emphasis on one of the elements. The second time I was watching the movie with the sound mixer, the music accidentally disappeared, and all we heard was the voice.

I said, “That’s fantastic. We won’t use any music or effects. No, just the screaming of the lady. Watching “Keoma” right now, I still think it was a good idea. But this wasn’t mine. It was an accident. I like it. Thank you for the question.

In a lot of your best ’60s films, Francesco De Masi did the score. In a lot of your great ’70s films it was the De Angeles Brothers, Guido and Maurizio De Angeles. Was that your personal choice and which scores are your favorites or the most effective?

Thanks for this question. Francesco De Masi, as you know, is not with us anymore. And but in my next film, I have all the music he made for all his movies. His son Filippo gave it to me. It was given for the relationship and a big, big friendship with Francesco. I am so glad. I will have the chance to choose from hours and hours of his music. I am so happy to do this. And thank you for remembering Francesco De Masi.

Your music in “Keoma” is very operatic. It’s opera meets Leonard Cohen, meets McCabe and Mrs. Miller.

Leonard Cohen was a fantastic inspiration. All of us are inspired by certain works. No one can say, “I am the sole inventor.” It’s not true because every move you ever saw, every bit or piece, inspires you somehow.

Whose voices were those in “Keoma?” There’s the lady’s voice, the guy’s voice.

She was a singer from Israel. I don’t remember the name, but the De Angeles Brothers found her. I thought she was fantastic. The male voice was one of the De Angeles brothers.

Was anyone else considered for the role of “Keoma” and where did the name Keoma come from?

Keoma came from Woody Strode. Woody gave the producer a wonderful, enormous book about the West and the Indian peoples (native Americans). It was fantastic and I got a lot of inspiration looking at it. There are two versions to where the name came from. The producer says that Keoma was the name of a whore in the book, but I don’t think that’s the case. For me, the name comes from the native American dialect that means freedom.

Is Tarantino going to be in your next movie?

Yes. The movie starts with three guys arriving on horseback, with the wind howling and dust and everything, as usual. Their faces are covered by bandanas. We inter-cut to an underground mine. There is a guy hiding. He has blue eyes. It’s Franco Nero, of course. The three guys arrive. We intercut between closeups of their eyes and Franco’s. They stop their horses and they get down. They take off their bandanas. We see them. It’s Quentin Tarantino, Eli Roth and Robert Rodriguez.

Marvelous. Wind and dust and stars. It’s funny. We used to joke that the Ridley Scott lighting kit was smoke for the smoke-filled room, a bare light bulb, and red lipstick. I would argue that the Enzo Castellari lighting kit is lots of smoke…

Lots and lots of smoke.

Slow motion.

Lots of dust.

Dust everywhere. And long lenses.

Right. But in my next, I want to use squibs that hit and the block camera. I want to do it like Spielberg did in “Saving Private Ryan” in the beginning. Squibs, blood and dust. I never used dust as a substitute for squibs, but I want to do that now because it’s fantastic.

I was wondering how did you feel when Tarantino started to do remakes of your movies?

A long time ago, some friends asked, “Did you read what Tarantino said about Italian movies?”
I said that I had not.

They said, “Yes, but it’s very interesting because Tarantino is a fan of Italian movies.”

Another friend asked, “Did you read what Tarantino was thinking about Italian action movies?”

I grabbed the magazine or the newspaper. I want to read it.

And then a friend asked, “But did you hear what Tarantino said about you?”

“About me?” I said. “He knows me?”

Suddenly, in the afternoon, a voice came on the telephone. “Mr. Castellari?”


“This is Mr. Goodwin. I’m Quentin Tarantino’s lawyer.”

“Ah, am I guilty for something?”

“No, no. We are interested in buying the rights to your “Inglorious Bastards.”

Really? I didn’t believe it. I thought it was a joke.

I said, “Are you really American? Are you really a lawyer of Quentin? Give me your telephone number. I will call you back.”

So I did. It’s unbelievable. From Lumière until now, how many movies have been done? 2 to 3 million? And of all these 3 million movies, a genius like Quentin Tarantino chose just mine to do a remake–I can’t believe it. But there were several phone calls with the lawyer and a meeting at last was set up in Venice during the festival. They had invited Tarantino, and they invited me. I was never invited to be involved in a film festival. I do my action movies and that’s all. But no, they invited to the Venice festival.

And Tarantino insisted that they show my “Inglorious Bastards.” So we met in Venice. The screening of my movie was unbelievable. There were thousands of people, waiting for Tarantino.

They took me to a separate entrance to avoid the crowd. I was taken along a big corridor. And suddenly, dum-dum-dum-dum. I hear a voice say, “Maestro.”

Who was that? It was Quentin running toward me. He gave me a big bear hug. From that moment on, it seems that every time we meet, he will take me and give me a big hug and spin me around.

We go into the cinema and he confesses that this is the first time he’s seeing it on a big screen. I ask why. He says, “I accepted to come into Venice just to see your movie on the big screen because I am accustomed to see it only with on VHS first and then on DVD. But I wantws to see it on the screen, especially with you. So we were watching the movie with the cinema full of people. People were sitting on the floor. It was unbelievable. And he was repeating, in advance, all the lines from the film. He knew all the lines of dialog by heart. And after each shot that, he would say, “Perfecto, man. It’s great.” And then he would give me a punch on the shoulder. By the end of the screening, my shoulder was very sore from being punched so many times.

Did he know you were a boxer?

Yes. But it was fantastic. And he was the first to stand and up and say to everybody, “Maestro. My master.” It was a big, unbelievable success. From that moment, I knew that Tarantino considered me a master.

Great. So hopefully, we’ll be back in a couple of months to watch your latest movie. Thank you very much, Maestro.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


Amnon presenting Enzo with Frederick Remington's  "The Broncho Buster"

Amnon presenting Enzo with Frederick Remington’s “The Broncho Buster”



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Cinematheque Online Catalog

CinemathequeLa Cinémathèque française just published an online illustrated catalog of their historical motion picture equipment collection. It also includes the CNC’s (National Center for Cinema).

The French Cinematheque has acquired, nurtured and maintained one of  the finest equipment collections  in the world, thanks to generous donors, since 1936. The most prestigious pieces include those of Étienne-Jules Marey, Louis Lumière, Georges Méliès, the Chronomégaphone and Chronochrome Gaumont, Vitaphoneprojector and speaker,  Aaton cameras and archives of Jean-Pierre Beauviala (including the “8-35″ of Jean-Luc Godard,  Panavision,  Pathé, Lumière, Gaumont, Éclair, Debrie, Kudelski, Ernemann, Arriflex, Mitchell, Bell & Howell, Thomson, etc. The collection became really prominent in 1959 when the Cinematheque, thanks to André Malraux, then recently appointed Minister of State for Cultural Affairs,  acquired the fabulous collection of British technician and historian Will Day (1873-1936).

The first catalog was published in 1996 (Le Mouvement continué, Catalogue illustré de la collection des appareils de la Cinémathèque française, Milan-Paris, Mazzotta – Cinémathèque française, Musée du cinéma, 1996) . It contained the description of 1460 items. This book has long been out of print.

In 1997, the CNC added its collection of historical equipment to the  Cinémathèque.  This  formed a coherent collection, complementing each other, that traced the international developments in film technology. Beginning in 1997, Kodak-Pathé,  the French Society of Production and other companies donated hundreds of devices. Jean-Pierre Beauviala, founder of Aaton, became a regular and generous donor. The filmmaker Jacques Perrin gave the Cinémathèque prototypes that were used to film Oceans (2010).

The Cinémathèque’s goal with these purchases and donations was to bring together unique devices and reconstruct the full range of some major French and foreign manufacturers: Pathé (Continsouza), Éclair (John Mery and André Coutant), Debrie, Gaumont, Kudelski, Ernemann, Lumière, Mitchell, Bell & Howell, Arriflex, Angénieux, Thomson, Aaton–from  camera # 1 produced for the ORTF (1972) to the hybrid Penelope (2010). 2013  marked  the acquisition by the CNC of the collection of Jean-Pierre Verscheure (projectors, sound systems, projection lenses).  2014 was  successful thanks to the donation by Bernard Tichit of a very large collection of cameras.

This new online catalog should be considered a work in progress that needs to be constantly updated and improved (especially with the help of Internet users). This work does not list all of the collections of devices because some are still being restored (we estimated about 6,000 items in the collection). 4200 iamges are available today. This online reference source, is intended to advance the history of technique and technology, to better understand the relationship between aesthetics and hardware, and to help conserve these precious machines.


Text by Laurent Mannoni, Directeur scientifique du Patrimoine et du Conservatoire des techniques Cinémathèque française


Translated by Jon Fauer, hopefully without too many mistakes.


Preston Light Ranger 2


Howard Preston is at BSC Expo and AFC Micro Salon demonstrating his new patent-pending Light Ranger 2 (LR2). Howard calls it a “critical focus tool for the digital world.” You still work with your familiar FIZ. The LR2 intuitively guides focus-pulling in the correct direction, near or far. You confirm this by viewing almost any monitor, which gets a graphical overlay from the LR2. The thing works in a number of modes: manual, autofocus, or basic distance measuring.

Preston Cinema Systems’ Light Ranger 2 consists of 2 parts.

The Video Overlay Unit (above) attaches  to the back of almost any monitor. It receives focus information from both the Light Ranger 2 and the Preston FIZ HU3 Hand Unit.

The Sensor Unit (below) attaches to the camera. The sensor unit sits atop the camera, preferably above the lens, but it can be placed anywhere that’s convenient. A quick setting calibrates the offset.



A beam of infrared light from by the Light Ranger 2 bounces off the objects in the scene, and is captured by the detector array behind the unit’s lens. It’s safe infrared. There are no lasers, no ultrasonic signals, no transponders attached to actors.

Light Ranger 2 works with the Preston Wireless FIZ system HU3 hand unit and MDR3 motor driver. Plug the Serial port into your MDR3, power it up, aim, calibrate, and shoot.

You still control focus the way you always did. The Light Ranger 2 divides the video monitor into 16 zones, like a bar graph. Rectangles above the horizontal line show areas behind your established distance. Rectangles below are in front. This graphically shows which way to turn the knob of your wireless FIZ hand unit. Areas that are in focus are shown in green, and take the lens depth of field into account.


In Manual focus mode (above), distances are shown with 16 rectangles. The height of the rectangle above or below the center line tells you whether the subject is in front of, behind, or within the lens depth of field. Subjects within the DOF are identified with green rectangles, otherwise the rectangles are white.

In Autofocus mode (below), a red rectangle shows where the distance measurement is taking place. The width of the rectangle is controlled by the north-south axis ↕ of the HU3 navigation key. The horizontal position of the rectangle is controlled by the ↔ east-west axis of the navigation key.

LR2 Brochure-2You can make a smooth move from autofocus to manual control. See the picture above and the two different “Lens” and “Knob” readouts. In this example, it’s telling you that the lens is autofocused at 2.03 m (Lens). But your FIZ knob is set to 2.56 m. If you switch from auto to manual at this point, the focus barrel will jump to the position determined by your FIZ hand unit knob. To avoid a focus jump when changing from Auto to Manual mode, the focus knob (Knob: 2.56 m) should be turned from 2.56 to  2.03 m so that its distance matches the lens setting (Lens: 2.03m). Next, exit autofocus mode using the HU3 softkey.

LR2 Brochure-FIZ

The Basic Range mode shows distances from the camera’s image plane to the subject. The vertical bars show distance graphically, and the numbers below each bar show the distance numerically.

LR2 Brochure-VideoDisplay


LR2 System consists of:

  • Light Ranger 2 sensor
  • LR2 Video Overlay Unit

It requires the FI+Z  HU3 (Handunit) and MDR3 (Motor Driver/Receiver)

LR2 ranging module:

  • operating Range 1’ to > 40’
  • Horizontal angle of view: 18°
  • Vertical angle of view: 3°
  • Number of detection zones: 16
  • Power: 10-32 VDC

LR2 Video Overlay Unit with G4 wireless link

  • Power: 10 – 28 VDC
  • Video Input: 1 – HD-SDI
  • Video Outputs: 1 – HD-DSI loop thru
  • 1 – HD-SDI with graphics overlay
  • Wireless Transceiver: G4
  • Parallax Range: ±20 inches (50cm)
  • Calibration: Menu driven, using focus target or manual offset entry.

These specifications  are preliminary and subject to change.

Preston Cinema Systems

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