Camera, Light, Projector and Sound Rental in Milwaukee & Chicago

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Category Archive: Blog

  1. Anamorphic Adapter Tips and Tricks

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    The SLR Magic Anamorphot 2.0x-50 anamorphic lens adapter is a game-changer for cinematographers who want to get the cinemascope look without a six-figure lens budget. I spent some time shooting with the 2x Anamorphot (after working with various 2x vintage adapters) and have a lot of tips and tricks to share to get the most from any anamorphic adapter rig.

    A frame from “Upstairs.” It was shot with a Sony FS7, a Zeiss 50mm ZE Planar T* lens with Metabones Speedbooster, the SLR Magic Anamorphot 2.0x-50, and Rangefinder.

     

    Crazy budget anamorphic rig

    This is the crazy rig I started using for the short film High Beam. It’s a Panasonic GH4, with an EF to MFT speedbooster, with a m42 to EF adapter, a vintage Helios 44-2 as the taking lens, a modified lens hood for mounting the Bell and Howell anamorphic adapter, which had the adjustable diopter cine modified. Then on the end, to get wide enough, I resorted to taping on a 0.7x wide angle adapter.

    I started my anamorphic journey with a Bell and Howell 2x super 16mm projection lens. Getting the imperial threads of the lens adapter to fit onto the metric standards in use on my lenses and filters took a few deep dives on eBay. Figuring out how to mount and support the lens was a lot of trial and error, too. There are a lot of tips online, but with any modified projector lens, you’re going to need to figure out what works best yourself.

    I learned one big lesson from shooting on the Bell and Howell: try not to change lenses. While I had lots of options, I ended up shooting almost exclusively on the vintage 58mm Helios 44-2. Since changing the taking lens meant changing the length of the crazy lens assembly, as well as using different stepping rings, lens changes were a 15-minute ordeal. I found it was easiest to switch between a “dumb” adapter for my telephoto shots, a speedbooster for my middle shots, and a speedbooster plus a wide angle adapter on the front for my widest shots. I found the the character of the vintage lens helped forgive some of the softness of the adapter.

    Screen grab from High Beam

    Paired with a vintage lens, the Bell and Howell gives one-of-a-kind visuals, although it was bordering on impossible to use. Courtesy of High Beam. Click image to view in 4K

    The rig was very inelegant, but did create some gorgeous images. The size of the Bell and Howell was suited to a Panasonic GH4, not s35 or full frame sensors. On MFT, it seemed a bit soft in 4K. Even with the modification to the variable diopter focus, focus was a challenge. It also looked so ridiculous that I couldn’t possibly suggest it for a “proper” shoot.

    Looking for something that would be a better fit for the Sony A7s II, I picked up a Lomo 35 NAP2-3m. It’s a massive beast of a lens. While it does allow for relatively wide lenses even on a full frame camera, close focus is limited to a ridiculous 6 meters. The front element is so huge that no variable diopter would fit. Some anamorphic lensheads have done extreme modifications to the 35-NAP2-3M, but to do it right means building your own lens housing. Even with modifications, focus is difficult and requires the dual-focus method. After trying a few test shots, I quickly realized that the Lomo wasn’t a good option for me.

    SLR Magic is the only company making modern “budget” anamorphic lenses and adapters. The Anamorphot 2.0x-50 is designed to work with the SLR Magic Rangefinder for single-focus operation. It has easy-to-use metric filter threads on the front and back. Everything about it makes it a lot easier to shoot with than any of the modified anamorphic projection lenses. I decided to work with the 2.0x model, since it gives a much more distinctly anamorphic look than the 1.33x.

    SLR Magic definitely has some anamorphiles on staff. Everything in their Anamorphot line has a blue lens coating, which amplifies the blue-streak flares made famous by filmmakers like J.J. Abrams. The glass definitely has a unique character, like nothing I’ve seen from any other anamorphic lenses. The Anamorphot 2.0x-50 is relatively sharp when used with the right taking lens. I used it a lot around f/4 with Zeiss ZE series lenses. To get a tack-sharp image, you need to be sure that your taking lens and the adapter are at infinity, your adapter is mounted squarely, and of course your front focus element needs to be spot on as well. It takes some time and practice before that all happens naturally.

    Lighting requires a different touch, as well. In general, highlights are to be avoided, except for the intentional lens flares and bokeh-ed points of light. High-contrast areas on a face, for example, can “bloom” and cause an out-of-focus look.  In general, anamorphic shines most in low-key and night scenes. Getting the most from daytime exteriors usually means shooting low contrast, with a long lens and maximizing the oval bokeh effect.

    After a few days of camera and lens tests, I’ve fine-tuned my ideal anamorphic adapter setup. I shoot on the Sony FS7, with an Atomos Shogun Flame to handle anamorphic de-squeeze and LUTs. A Zacuto Universal Baseplate provides a stable connection to rails (and gives the option to handhold the rig, if necessary). I use a Metabones adapter (not speedbooster). I found the speedbooster sometimes made focus even harder. I use Zeiss ZE lenses, or the Helios 44-2 for a more vintage look. The Anamorphot 2.0x-50 gets stepping rings to mount to the taking lens. I also use a Canon C-size tripod collar to help keep the adapter from rotating.

    Playing with various lenses, I learned that the ideal taking lens has to have certain features. You need non-rotating front filter threads. Ideally, the lens maintains the same length when focusing. For full frame cameras, the front filter threads should be 62mm or smaller and the front element should be about 50mm or smaller. You can get away with slightly bigger numbers if you’re using full frame glass on a crop sensor.

    Any comfort you have with lens lengths goes out the window with 2x anamorphic. Since a 50mm becomes a 50mm x 25mm lens, it can almost be wide and telephoto at the same time. Screengrab from Upstairs.

    The Zeiss ZE 35mm f/1.4 on super 35, cropped to 2.35:1, was the absolute widest I could get, and required removing the Rangefinder. It still left me wanting a wider option when shooting interiors. It gives about the same horizontal field of view as a 28mm on s35. The 50mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.4 were both simple to use, and worked with the Rangefinder no problem. The 50mm was definitely the workhorse lens. Using an 85 seemed limited to large spaces and exteriors. I can see why the Helios 44 series is so popular among anamorphic adapter shooters. It’s an eminently useful length that’s long enough for bokeh effects and still wide enough to use indoors. On paper I was worried about not having a lens longer than 85mm, but in practice I never really felt I needed it.

    Full manual is definitely the easiest way to go. Zoom lenses are tricky to use, since most of them change length while zooming. Primes are a much easier option. I experimented with a Canon 70-200, and it’s definitely not parfocal. In general, trying to focus past 135mm with an anamorphic adapter requires a zen-like patience, or a “good enough” attitude.

     

    After shooting a few projects with various adapters, I really fell in love with the anamorphic look. It’s something I’ve wanted to take into my commercial work, but I didn’t feel an adapter was simple enough for high pressure work. I made the decision to add the three SLR Magic Anamorphot PL primes to my collection. I’ll post back here after I’ve shot a few projects with them.

    What are your experiences shooting with anamorphic adapters? Let me know in the comments.


  2. Crash Course: GoPro Omni Tips & Tricks

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    GoPro Omni 360 Camera

    The GoPro Omni uses six genlocked GoPro Hero 4 black cameras in a cube-like array.

    The GoPro Omni 360 camera is an incredibly popular tool for recording immersive 360-degree video and photos.  Since the technology is just getting started, we wanted to review some of the most common questions and answers about the Omni, and 360-degree shooting in general.

    How long is the record time?

    Our GoPro Omni 360 camera kit includes six 32GB cards, which allow 40+ minutes of recording in the highest quality setting (recommended). The cameras will accept 64GB microSD cards, taking record time to 90+ minutes. Record times are about twice as long when using the 1440p setting. We have not yet tested the array with 128GB microSD cards.

    How long is the battery life?

    Typical life with just the GoPro batteries inside the Omni (the lightweight configuration) is around 50 minutes.  The kit includes a V-mount battery and power adapter, extending the run time to 3+ hours. An AC adapter is also included.

    What accessories do I need?

    The Omni kit we rent includes the Omni Sync Rig with six cameras, six GoPro batteries, one V-mount battery, a battery plate with clamp, a V-mount battery charger, a powertap cable, a GoPro Smart Remote with charge cable, six 32GB microSD cards, six microSD USB readers, and a USB hub. The items you are most likely to need in addition are:

    a way to mount the camera
    additional media
    additional batteries

    How should I mount the GoPro Omni?

    GoPro Omni mount

    The Omni mounts with a 1/4-inch tripod screw

    The Omni has a standard 1/4″-20 receiver, designed to be used with virtually all video production equipment. Since the camera is capable of seeing directly above and below itself, we suggest using something without a protrusion near the camera (for example, tripod legs or a tripod head).

    We have found that a light stand, or “chickenfoot” monopod work well. For a more invisible look, fishing line can be run through the Omni frame and fastened to the ceiling. Just be sure to mount it safely, as the rig weighs about 2 1/2 pounds. Since the camera is 360×360, mounting it “underslung” is simple and requires no adjustments. Regardless of how the camera is mounted, the editor will need to properly set the horizon level in post production.

    Does it matter where I point it, or where camera #1 is?

    Short answer: not really. The long answer is, if you can’t get the Omni away from an object, it’s much better to not have that object on a stitch (the seam between two cameras). Since each camera is in a slightly different position, the perspective of each starts to become significant once objects are within about six feet (two meters) of the array. You can tweak the stitching between cameras in post production, but it’s best to keep the camera away from any close objects if you want a clean stitch without much work in post.

    Is it really better than using six GoPros in an aftermarket frame like the Freedom 360?

    There are a few key advantages to the Omni rig over using six independent cameras. First, the operation of each camera is handled by the array, so you only need to use one camera or remote. The settings propagate across all cameras, so there’s no risk of mismatched settings. The six video files will all be the exact same length and begin at the same time, removing the need for a complicated sync procedure in post. In fact, the Omni is sub-frame accurate, with each frame from each camera starting at the exact same moment in time. This makes motion across the stitch lines much more natural-looking.

    Is it 3D?

    The GoPro Omni is an immersive 360×360 video camera, but it is not stereoscopic. If your project requires stereoscopic 3D, you’ll need to consider a camera like the GoPro Odyssey or the Nokia Ozo. Kits with 360-degree stereoscopic cameras are currently an order of magnitude more expensive, and have more challenges in post-production.

    Is it HD/4K/8K?

    The old ways of measuring video resolution don’t exactly translate to 360 video. If you are distributing to YouTube, you will likely upload an equirectangular projection in a 4K video file.  The Omni captures a total of either 16.5 or 24.8 megapixels, allowing for plenty of oversampling and some overlap at the seams. 360 video playback beyond 8K  resolutions is currently limited to custom installations and very expensive hardware.

    If your final deliverable is a traditional 2D video, you can get a reasonable 1080p cut from the source files, with a medium-wide field of view. If you won’t be adding digital pans or tilts in post production, it currently makes more sense to use a traditional single camera for 2D video.

    How do I go from recording in-camera to a finished video?

    The camera records to each of the six microSD cards simultaneously. After recording, remove the six cards and copy each of them to a drive, using a separate folder for each card. The video files will have matching names, lengths, and settings. You’ll need a program to combine the files together. We suggest AutoPano Video Pro with AutoPano Giga. We don’t include software or license keys with the camera rental.

    Our suggestion is to output the rectilinear video from the AutoPano Video program and import it into your preferred editing program. From here, you can mark ins and outs and apply color and exposure adjustments. The Omni records in ProTune and native white balance, so without correction, the footage will look gray and colors may appear inaccurate.

    Will it work as a live camera?

    The GoPro Omni is not designed to be used live. Currently, the only practical solution for livestreaming 360 video is the Nokia Ozo, combined with a very expensive computer system and trained technicians. If you want to produce live 360 video (like seen during the 2017 presidential inauguration), your budget in 2017 should be upwards of $40,000 a day. To produce virtual 2D camera replays (like seen in Super Bowl LI) requires even more advanced equipment.

    How do I monitor the video?

    Monitoring 360 video live is not possible with the GoPro Omni. Since the camera points in all directions at once, and settings are handled automatically, monitoring doesn’t have much use anyway.

    Unlike the GoPro Hero 4 black outside of the Omni array, WiFi control and monitoring is not supported. The wireless remote can be used to adjust Omni settings and trigger recording.

    What about audio?

    Each GoPro Hero 4 black records audio, and any one of those files can be selected in post production. If audio is critical, we suggest recording to a separate device and syncing them in post production.

    Can we call you and ask a bunch of questions from our set?

    Please, if you’re new to 360 video, book an extra day with your camera rental to do some tests and figure out the details. We can try to walk you through things on the phone, but working with any new camera is never something you should do in a rush.

    Can you provide a list of qualified GoPro Omni 360 camera operators?

    Yes, just email us with your project dates and location and someone will be in touch with you shortly.


  3. 2018 Student Internships

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    video-intern

    Matt, one of our previous interns, learned a lot about video production, worked with producers, and was on set for multiple productions.

    MKE Production Rental is looking for several interns for 2018. Students must be receiving school credit to be eligible for the internship.

    An internship with MKE Production Rental is an opportunity to get your hands on the latest gear, meet the professionals working in Milwaukee, and learn from experts at a growing company. You’ll also be able to sit in on workshops, use equipment for your personal projects, and ask questions in a one-on-one setting.

    The intern will spend some time in the MKE Production Rental office, assisting with rental orders, and maintaining equipment. The rest of their time will be spent on location or in studio, as a production assistant on various video shoots.

    An ideal candidate will:

    • Be reliable and punctual
    • Have a passion for video and technology
    • Be comfortable with audio and video equipment
    • Be detail-oriented and attentive
    • Be comfortable with basic audio video troubleshooting
    • Have a flexible schedule
    • Be enrolled at an institution providing academic credit for internships

    Responsibilities include:

    • Assembling equipment orders
    • Testing and maintaining rental equipment
    • Answering customer phone calls and emails
    • Receiving rental drop offs and performing return inspection
    • Production Assistant on set
    • Other miscellaneous duties

    You will be expected to learn quickly, with direct supervision from the rental manager. For students successfully completing at least 100 internship hours for credit, a $400 stipend will be provided.

    Please submit your resume, as well as information about your college’s internship program, your availability, and your desired start dates, to [email protected] No phone calls, please!

     


  4. 9 Rides Cinematographer: Shooting on iPhone 6

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    Meet the cinematographer behind “9 Rides,” the film that premiered at SXSW and was shot on an iPhone 6. Most recently, you may have seen the film at the Milwaukee International Film Festival.

    r-vialet

    Cinematographer Richard Vialet hosts “How to Shoot a Great Movie On An iPhone”
    Wednesday, October 5th at 5-8pm
    Milwaukee Film Festival Lounge (the back projector area)
    2155 N. Prospect Ave

    This event will be an opportunity for those working or interested in working in the film industry to learn and discuss with a knowledgeable, experienced, and innovative filmmaker.

    The event is free, but invitation only, as space is limited.

    Please RSVP online before October 3rd. Seats will be available to invitees on a first-come, first-served basis.

     


  5. Holiday Hours

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    rental-hours

    Please make an appointment before stopping by.  Our hours below are when we have someone available to answer your questions by email, phone, or SMS. We usually aren’t able to help customers who stop in without an appointment.

    MKE Production Rental Winter Hours (starting September 1)

    Open Close
    Monday 9:00 AM 5:00 PM
    Tuesday 11:00 AM 5:00 PM
    Wednesday By Appt.
    Thursday 9:00 AM 5:00 PM
    Friday 9:00 AM 5:00 PM
    Saturday 11:00 AM 1:00 PM
    Sunday 11:00 AM 1:00 PM

     

    Holiday Hours for 2016-2017:

    Friday, December 23, open 9am to noon
    Saturday, December 24, closed
    Sunday, December 25, closed
    Monday, December 26, open noon to 5pm
    Friday, December 30, open 9am to noon
    Saturday, December 31, closed
    Sunday, January 1, closed

    We don’t count holidays as rental days, so you can get a great deal on rentals if you pick up before the holiday. Please book early as things tend to go quickly!

    If you’re in a jam, use our 24/7 emergency service.  Just send a SMS to 414.939.3653 and we’ll be with you as soon as we can. After hours/holiday rates, minimum order sizes, and delivery charges may apply.

     


  6. Meet the Team

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    chad

    Chad Halvorsen

    Film Production Specialist

    Chad has a decade of film production experience as an editor, producer and actor. He uses his incredible good looks and wealth of knowledge to help our film and video production rental customers. He’s also pretty popular on the YouTube.

    kellie

    Kellie Commons

    Finance Director

    Kellie keeps the books, runs payroll, and makes sure that the employees do what they said they would. She knows the difference between a deduction and a credit, and will do whatever it takes to get a current W9. Her favorite vegetables are brussels sprouts and her favorite thing to rent is a bubble machine.

    jon

    Jon Kline

    Founder

    Jon started the company so he could move all his video production equipment out of his apartment. Now he’s around part time, mostly when he needs to pick up a camera for his day job as a cinematographer.

    Vianca Fuster

    Rental Manager

    Vianca studies Journalism at UW-Milwaukee and loves to help people make better videos. She’s in the office more than anyone else, and also makes really good salsa.


  7. 2016 Summer Internship

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    video-intern

    Matt, our intern last year, got to learn a lot about video production, work with producers, and get on set for multiple productions.

    MKE Production Rental is looking for an intern for Summer 2016. Students must be receiving school credit to be eligible for the internship.

    An internship with MKE Production Rental is an opportunity to get your hands on the latest gear, meet the professionals working in Milwaukee, and learn from experts at a growing company. You’ll also be able to sit in on workshops, use equipment for your personal projects, and ask questions in a one-on-one setting.

    The intern will spend some time in the MKE Production Rental office, assisting with rental orders, and maintaining equipment. The rest of their time will be spent on location or in studio, as a production assistant on various video shoots.

    An ideal candidate will:

    • Be reliable and punctual
    • Have a passion for video and technology
    • Be comfortable with audio and video equipment
    • Be detail-oriented and attentive
    • Be comfortable with basic audio video troubleshooting
    • Have a flexible schedule
    • Be enrolled at an institution providing academic credit for internships

    Responsibilities include:

    • Assembling equipment orders
    • Testing and maintaining rental equipment
    • Answering customer phone calls and emails
    • Receiving rental drop offs and performing return inspection
    • Production Assistant on set
    • Other miscellaneous duties

    Summer is our busiest time of the year, and you will be expected to learn quickly, with direct supervision from the rental manager. For students successfully completing at least 100 internship hours for credit before September 10, 2016, a $400 stipend will be provided.

    Please submit your resume, as well as information about your college’s internship program and your summer availability, to [email protected] before April 30, 2016. No phone calls, please!

    Download a printable PDF of this internship posting

     


  8. Five Steps to Your First Gig in Video Production

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    first-freelance-gigWorking in film and video production is a fantastic career, but a lot of the available “jobs” aren’t really jobs at all. They’re freelance gigs. Getting hired as a video production contractor takes some effort, but follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to filling your calendar and starting a successful career in freelance video production.

    1. Get a respectable picture of yourself. This means you’re dressed like a professional and not holding a drink. Ask a friend to take one for you, because selfies are not how you want to introduce yourself to future clients.

    2. List yourself in directories. You’ll want to find the websites where people go to find video production freelancers. Some of them are national, some are based around states or cities. A lot of these sites will let you post a profile for free, and some sites that charge may be worth the cost if they get you new contacts. The best way to find these sites is to pretend you’re a producer looking for your next hire. You might search for “Production Assistant Milwaukee” or “Film Grips in Chicago.” The directory sites that turn up in a search like that are probably the ones you want to be listed in. Complete your profile and use that snappy new picture of yourself.

    3. Start a page (or an entire web site) that’s about you as a professional. When you’re just starting out, it’s okay to have something small. A listing on about.me, for example, is free and easy to update. Post production freelancers might use a site like Behance. You can mention your work or your volunteer activities, collegiate accomplishments, and anything else that might make a producer remember you and want to hire you. A page that’s all about you as a professional sends the message that you’re passionate about video production. If you want producers to find it, you might add a link to it at the bottom of your email signature. As you start to post more about yourself online, you can add links to your YouTube channel, Vimeo page, or your own dot com page, too.

    4. Meet some people that do what you want to do. Remember those directories that you listed yourself in? Who else is listed in them? Send a nice email offering free coffee, and 50% of strangers will be more than willing to meet another freelance video production professional. You might find out where they get their gigs, what mistakes they’ve made, and what they’ve learned. All for under five bucks. Since freelancers are sometimes too busy to accept new gigs, they may even send a producer your way from time to time.

    5. Meet people that hire and recommend crews for film and video production. This means getting to know the local stages and rental houses (even a small city like Milwaukee has about a dozen different companies that support film crews), and also video producers at production companies and ad agencies.  You might find these people on LinkedIn, Twitter, or through your own network. An email introduction can sometimes work, but the best way to get hired is to get yourself in front of these decision-makers.

    Be professional, be nice, and follow these tips and you’ll be filling your calendar up in no time!

    posted by Jon Kline


  9. Production Assistance

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    mke_production-assistance

    At MKE Production Rental, we’re more than just equipment rental. We also provide production assistance for film, video, and photography shoots in Milwaukee and the surrounding area. We can connect you with specialized crew, casting services, location scouting and locations, and everything else you need to make the most from your production.

    Sometimes, production assistance means providing tables, chairs, tents, walkie talkies, and other production support. Other times, production assistance means getting help to navigate the resources available in the Milwaukee area.

    Milwaukee has multiple production studios, hundreds of freelance crew, and many competitors for audio, editing, graphics, and post-production. We’re here as your partner, helping you choose the best options for your unique project requirements. Our extensive list of crew, from directors and DPs to grips and production assistants, can get your shoot staffed quickly. Our years of experience working in Milwaukee makes us uniquely suited to assist with all your production needs.

    To us, “production assistance” means more than just getting you your equipment. We want you to be as excited as we are to shoot in Milwaukee! Contact our office to connect with a production specialist for all your production needs.

    414.939.3653
    [email protected]


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