Hey there! In the past we have released newsletters and bulletins containing news and info based on user feedback related to the Cine RT System. As we are a small outfit it was hard to find the time to compile these dispatches, so they ended up often taking a long time to release. Our new plan is to release smaller bits of info more often here at FPAW! We hope that this offers the opportunity for you to receive info more regularly and the ability to discuss topics that arise.
Let's kick it off with the full response from 1st AC Erik L. Brown (Phantom Thread, Licorice Pizza) on running both the Cine RT and Light Ranger. We wanted to offer some insight into this doubling up and why an AC may choose to do it...
1st AC Erik L. Brown with DP Michael Bauman on the set of "Licorice Pizza"
"Regarding the photos you saw from “Licorice Pizza” with both the CineRT and the Preston Light Ranger mounted on the camera, your assessment is spot on. I think it’s unrealistic and unfair to ask or think that a single product can do “everything” as any type of technology has its inherent strengths and weaknesses. Parallax is a big issue with the Light Ranger and even with the new Medium sensor unit, I’ve still had coverage issues with certain lenses in certain wide formats especially when the subject framing is really edgy. Size and weight are also an issue as I’ve had camera configurations I’ve needed to keep really small, light, and nimble - (an area where the CineRT excels, of course!) “Licorice Pizza” was shot on film with anamorphic lenses. Even though the Panavision cameras have HD video taps, by the time the image goes through the ground glass in the camera and the rest of the optical viewing path, the image on a monitor is not of a quality you could accurately pull focus from. Consequently, I had to rely on good old-fashioned focus pulling techniques of which accurate distance measurements are a huge part.
We were working with a lot of non-actors on “Licorice Pizza” so we didn’t rehearse much. Paul had a much more organic approach and we would often go from a very wide to a very long lens from one take to another or a shot would start out as a wide establisher that somehow ended in someone’s close up. I would often leave both the Preston and the CineRT set up with the Preston readout on the handset and the CineRT readout via the High-Bright display velcroed on the top of the Preston Handset. It allowed me to play a zone defense so to speak and I was able to accurately cover things from near to far by setting up each system to cover specific areas. Sometimes I would use the Light Ranger for mid to far distances and rely on the CineRT for accurate closer readings and sometimes I would offset the CineRT slightly as I would know an actor was going to end up in close-up on the extreme edge of frame on one side or the other. Often the pace we worked at just made it easier to leave both systems set up rather than reconfiguring - especially if it was on a camera mounted on the dolly where size/weight wasn’t an issue.
I also put the Bug to great use on several occasions. There are some 180mm running shots of our two leads where we were chasing them with the Steadicam mounted on a tracking vehicle. I would put the Bug in whoever’s pocket we wanted to be focused on and it was a lifesaver when the actor was running through a crowd or trees, cars or other things were in between us.
Focus pulling has evolved tremendously in the past few years which you’re all too aware of. Just look at all the manufacturers of remote focus units now - Teredek, Heden, C-Motion, and all the rest. It used to just be Arri and Preston! I look at the autofocus capabilities of the new iPhone as well as the device used on the new DJI Ronin 4-D and can only imagine what we’ll be using next to control focus. Exciting times!"
Our thanks to Erik for his feedback! We are of course happy that the Cine RT System integrates on various levels with products from the majority of the manufacturers he mentioned. It is a quickly evolving world out there when it comes to available products. We'll speak soon with regards to the R&D we are doing to develop new products and expand the Cine RT System at Focusbug.