Cinematographer & Filmmaker
Corey Steib
by Corey Steib on March 13th, 2017

If you are wondering why the title says that the Panavision DXL could of not been done without the Panasonic VariCam, well that's because it's true says Michael Cioni of Panavision and LightIron.

I sent the "Panavision and Panasonic Making a ComeBack?" over to Michael to get this thoughts and feedback. He said that he loved it as it was a great insight as he worked on both systems.

He said that you can see some similarities to both systems as they are both designed for different markets but both are fantastic cameras. He also said that if it was not for the new VariCam system their would be no DXL.

So as you can see that while working on another camera system a new one was created. I give my hat off to all of the camera engineers who really make it possible for us filmmakers. I want to thank Michael Cioni again for taking time out of his busy day to read my blog post and I hope that he could maybe get me a loaner on the DXL :). (Fingers Crossed) :).

by Film Tools on March 7th, 2017

With hundreds of careers and opportunities, the Filmmaking industry can be a unique experience for a Filmmaker. Options include pitching an idea, or a commission through screenwriting, casting, shooting, editing, and screening your project. Filmtools decided to take a deeper look into the world of a Filmmaker. This week, we had the opportunity to speak to Filmmaker Corey Steib about his work. This is what he said:
What inspires you?

Corey Steib: Many things inspire me but if I had to point it to a particular area it would be creating a scene from scratch. To me, that means walking into an empty room + figuring out what the scene is. It’s important to let my imagination run wild.

Why did you choose this field?

Corey Steib: Since I was 5 years old I have always been interested in this industry and technology, but it was not until I hit a high school I finally figured out what I wanted to do. It became more evident when I went to college what particular area of the field I wanted to concentrate on.

How does Filmtools help you?

Corey Steib: When I started my professional career back in 2003 at that point in time Filmtools was the place to go to for any type of film equipment.

What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on before?

Corey Steib: To date, I have worked on over 200 feature films, commercials, music videos and live events. I can’t really point to a particular one. If I had to say – I’ve enjoyed low budget films over some of the big budget films that I’ve worked on. Why? Even though you are a below the line crew member you had a little bit more input in the creative process versus working on a much bigger budget feature film.
 
Do you have any projects that we can help promote?

Corey Steib: Yes there are two projects I did within the last couple years, one I was nominated for Best Cinematography (TechSqaud) and the other one I won Best Cinematography (M-Theory).
 
Do you have a piece of essential gear that you don’t leave without?

Corey Steib: I bought this product back in 2003 from Filmtools. The AC pouch is my go to item on shoots.

What advice would you give to people interested in this industry?

Corey Steib:  The best advice I would give people in the industry is to try and go on set to see how things are run. If you’re interested after that, find a film school. There’s always been this thing between film schools vs. Online. Yes, there are things online that you can’t learn in film school but what film school gives you is a foundation and the right and wrong way to do things on a film set. The most powerful takeaway from that is also networking. Back when I started I had to cold call people. Nowadays with social media, I believe it’s a lot easier to break the ice with people who don’t know you. The one thing you must NEVER do is burn bridges or step on someone’s toes because you never know if you’ll see that person again on set. Be a big sponge and learn everything you can because it’s always the small things that will help you. There’s really no correct path to get into this industry. The film industry has many different roads you can go down. I have been very very blessed to work on as many projects as I have in the last 13 years. I have seen the industry change so rapidly that it’s scary but yet a fun ride into the future to see what comes next.

by Corey Steib on March 7th, 2017

So if you have not heard by now Black Magic Design announced a brand new camera called the URSA Mini Pro. I am pretty sure you have seen social media blowing up about this camera both good and bad. But before I give you my thoughts and what I think, let me show you some specs which everyone loves to see first :).

Digital Film Quality for Every Project
 

URSA Mini Pro is “three cameras in one” because it combines high end digital film quality with the ergonomics and features broadcasters need. It’s ideal for any kind of work from high end feature films, television shows and commercials, to independent films, broadcast news, and even studio and live production! URSA Mini Pro features beyond Ultra HD 4.6K resolution plus 15 stops of dynamic range, all with a super wide color gamut and DaVinci color science so you always capture cinematic quality images. The super compact body features broadcast camera ergonomics and advanced operating software that make it faster to set up and use than any other camera! Whether you’re on set, on location or shooting run and gun, URSA Mini Pro has the image quality and features you need to work on any type of project!
Digital Film
Broadcast
Studio

Two Incredible Models
 

Choose URSA Mini or URSA Mini Pro models
 

Compatible with EF, PL and B4 lenses!
 

The URSA Mini family are powerful and robust cameras that are available in five different versions, so you can choose the camera that best suits your needs. Choose the affordable URSA Mini 4K and URSA Mini 4.6K models with cinema quality, fixed EF or PL lens mounts, and dual C-Fast card recorders. Or choose the all new, advanced URSA Mini Pro 4.6K that adds built in ND filters, an interchangeable lens mount, dual C-Fast UHS-II SD card recorders and powerful broadcast features and controls!

Built in ND Filters
 

High quality neutral density filters with IR compensation!
 

URSA Mini Pro features high quality neutral density (ND) filters that let you quickly reduce the amount of light entering the camera. The 2, 4 and 6 stop filters have been specifically designed to match the colorimetry and color science of URSA Mini Pro, providing you with additional latitude, even under harsh lighting conditions. This lets you use different combinations of aperture and shutter angle to achieve shallower depth of field, or specific levels of motion blur, in a wider range of situations. The IR filters have been designed to filter both optical wave lengths and IR wave lengths evenly to eliminate IR contamination of the images that most ND filters can suffer from. The ND filters are true optical filters with a precision mechanism that quickly moves them into place when the ND filter dial is turned. The filter settings can even be displayed as either an ND number, stop reduction or fraction on the LCD!

Quickly change settings without taking the camera off your shoulder!
 

Like the world’s best broadcast cameras, URSA Mini Pro features powerful tactile control buttons, switches, knobs and dials, giving you direct access to the most important camera settings. The controls are laid out in a logical order that makes them easy to remember, so you’ll be able to adjust settings, use ND filters, change frame rate and even snap a still photo without having to look at the buttons or take the camera off of your shoulder. The external controls are so fast to use, you don’t even have to stop shooting! That’s what makes URSA Mini Pro both a powerful broadcast and studio camera, as well as a digital film camera!

Cinematic 4.6K Sensor
 

Capture incredible digital film images with 15 stops of dynamic range!
 

When it comes to image quality, URSA Mini Pro operates at a higher resolution and dynamic range that goes well beyond traditional motion picture film. You get a 4.6K image sensor that captures up to 4608 x 2592 pixels, which is bigger than full DCI 4K! The sensor features a massive 15 stops of dynamic range, making it perfect for high dynamic range (HDR) projects. The built in active refrigeration ensures maximum dynamic range and low noise so you get incredibly clean pictures with amazing detail in both the dark shadows and bright highlight areas. You can also choose the lower cost URSA Mini 4K model with 12 stops of dynamic range when you don’t need the performance and are on a tighter budget.

Non Stop Recording
 

Works with both C-Fast and SD card media!
 

URSA Mini Pro features both dual C-Fast 2.0 recorders and dual UHS-II SD card recorders so you can choose the media that works best for you. C-Fast cards are ideal for full resolution RAW recording, while SD and UHS-II cards are inexpensive and commonly available, making them perfect for recording ProRes Ultra HD files or RAW HD files. Simply choose the media type, insert the cards and start shooting! With dual slots for each media type, you never have to stop recording because when the first card is full, it automatically continues onto the next card. You can even swap the full card for an empty one, all without having to stop recording! URSA Mini Pro can record lossless 12-bit CinemaDNG RAW files for the highest possible quality, or 10-bit ProRes files for easy post production workflows with minimum storage requirements!

Advanced URSA Mini Software

Incredibly fast software with revolutionary new user interface!

 

All URSA Mini cameras feature a new user interface that revolutionizes the way you work! The advanced camera operating software lets you use simple tap and swipe gestures to control all features, setup, the digital slate and more. You get powerful and super fast software with a unique heads up display that puts commonly used functions at your fingertips. Simply touch an on screen icon to make changes for things such as audio levels, white balance, shutter angle and more! You’ll instantly see sliders and controls for making adjustments without ever having to navigate through any menus! The new digital “slate” makes entering metadata faster than ever before with a built in dictionary, predictive entry and on screen keyboard. Using a professional digital film camera has never been faster!

Professional Connections

Full size, durable connections that work with standard cables

 

Professional Audio

URSA Mini Pro has a high quality microphone and professional audio recorder built right in so you don’t have to carry around extra sound equipment! Use the built in stereo microphone to record natural location sound or connect professional microphones using the two XLR wide dynamic range mic inputs. The XLR connections have 48V of switchable phantom power so you can plug in everything from shot gun to wireless clip on mics for capturing every detail of the performance. You can quickly adjust levels using the external knobs and monitor audio using the onscreen audio meters.

Optional Shoulder Mount Kit
 

URSA Mini cameras include multiple ¼” mount points on the bottom so you can attach it directly to any tripod. When you need to quickly move from tripod to handheld and back, the best solution is to use the optional Blackmagic URSA Mini Shoulder Kit. This kit includes the shoulder pad with built in rosettes, rail mounts and integrated quick lock release attachment points for instantly latching onto the quick release plate without removing the shoulder pad. The kit also includes a top handle for carrying the camera and attaching accessories.

Full BMD Press Conference

My Thoughts

Ok so now that we have seen the specs and everything else in between. The question becomes, is this the all in one camera that we all have been waiting for?

I truly do believe that it is the all in one camera, will it work for every single job, I think it can given that you have three cameras in one.

The biggest thing I think people will agree with me on is that they finally added the built in ND'S. Black Magic it's about time and thank you for listening to yours customers. The added bonus is that it allows for three different lens mount options and two different modules.

So to wrap up I do think that this is the best all around all in one camera as it adds to many wonderful features and accessories.

Most of all the price is what it comes down to which considering what you are getting it could be more then double the cost with other brands.

BMD key goal as been trying to give us digital film cameras in a price that work for us owner and operators. 

I am sure not everyone will agree with me on this but you are the artist, use the camera as your canvas. Until next time everyone Happy Shooting. 

by Corey Steib on March 6th, 2017

​You may be wondering why this article is called Learn Your Craft & Stop Worshipping Film Gear and the reason behind it is that I feel today’s filmmakers rely more on technology than the technique of filmmaking itself. I recently wrote an article on why shot composition is so important. My film school instructors drilled this into us as it is a key element to filmmaking and telling the story.

If you follow me on twitter then you would have seen a post I did earlier this week at how many different types of books I have in my closet on filmmaking. They ranged from technical books to directing the shot. Sure they many seem like paper weight to some but I still go back and look through them because I do learn a new technique every time I do.

For 13 years I have been mastering the art of framing shots on over 200 Films, Commercials, and Live Events. Do I know how to light, yes I do but the framing and composition on top of the lighting tell’s the story. I love technology just as much as any other filmmaker, but we must not forget the technique of filmmaking.

I remember doing my internship at Panavision many moons ago and for 3 months straight all I did was load film camera magazines. I have loaded every 35mm and 16mm camera brand you can think of from Panavision to Arri to Moviecam. Once I mastered that I moved onto the inner workings of each camera and how is acts.

These steps is what makes you stand out from other camera assistants and filmmakers. If you are not interning then find a local rental house near by and ask if you can play with some of their gear. This will show the other filmmakers in the prep bay that you have a willingness and drive to learn the equipment and do things the right way.

​While still trying to get my foot through the door in the film community I decided to work in the audiovisual field where I would cut my teeth at properly loading and unloading 18 wheelers full of audio video and lighting gear stacked 7 feet high above me. Learning this taught me how to load a bunch of camera gear into much smaller trucks in a smart safe way.

There is not a big difference between the film industry and audiovisual industry as one has more people working on the same project than the other. I have learned many different techniques from both film and audiovisual that I applied to both industries on many different projects.

Learning and practicing how to do things the right way is key because if you mess up then it shows you how to learn from that mistake. I am not saying that I am perfect as I am far from it as I am human too, but if you are on set or show site and you do mess up then let your leader or department head know immediately. It’s better to admit your mistake right then instead of after the fact. The one thing that practicing in your off time will give you are chances to mess up, on a real project if you mess up then you don’t get a second chance.

If you are able to go to film school then do it, if not then try to watch as many films as you can and take your camera out every day and practice different shots. It does not have to be a RED Camera or a BlackMagic Cinema Camera, it can be a Handycam or iPhone. If you are serious about becoming a filmmaker as a cinematographer, camera operator, camera assistant, etc..then learn the technique and practice over and over.

​I remember when I was coming up through the business you had to do it the “Old Hollywood Way” which meant working your way up the ladder from a PA to a Camera PA to a Film Loader etc..That is is still true to this day on bigger projects. Shooting on 35mm and 16mm was still king back in 2003 as digital really did not start to take off until 2006. Through the years we all wanted 24 frames per second, now we have that and a lot more in what I refer to as the “All in One Coke Machines“.

The industry is all hyped up on 4k and cropping it in post production that we don’t realize that as much time as it takes us to crop that shot in post production we could have easily switched lenses. Sure there are times and situations where we need to crop in but come on don’t take the lazy way out. Taking that extra 5 seconds to switch lenses because it does make a difference in how your shot looks. If anything use a zoom lens and in-between questions zoom into your subject a little more. Go from a medium shot to a close-up.

All of these digital cinema cameras are very nice but if you don’t know the techniques then what good does that do you. It will make your project look like crap as I have seen it before.
Someone once said to me that there are people in this business that want to do it and there are some that really want to do it. That is what I tell everyone when I am a guest speaker or when I do workshops. If you have a hard work ethic and are driven then people will notice right away. Whether you are a hobbyist, semi-professional or a seasoned veteran like me you never stop learning.

Always be a sponge, do I know a lot of techniques sure but you can always teach a new dog old tricks. Someone might have a different technique that they have learned that might work for you and make your job easier. Always remember that filmmaking is a collaborative effort by everyone, leave your egos at home and don’t throw anyone under the bus because that no only embarrasses the person but it embarrass you as well.



by Corey Steib on February 21st, 2017

Over the last few years we have seen Canon and Sony leave other big brand camera makers in the dust behind them. A lot of people thought that after the big success of the AF100 by Panasonic that they would continue down the road to be neck and neck with the other two. But that did not happen until September of 2014 when they came out with some footage of their new Varicam 35 which was announced at NAB 2014.

4 Varicam Flavors

The new Varicam 35 comes in 4 different flavors
Varicam 35-4K Camera and Recorder

The VariCam 35 features superb image handling in multiple formats ranging from 4K RAW to 4K, UHD, 2K, HD and ProRes capture formats.


 
Varicam LT-Cinema 4K Camera

The Next Generation in Digital Cinema Innovation


 
Varicam-HS-HD Camera and Recorder

The 2/3" VariCam® HS camera/recorder produces extraordinary 1080p image quality at up to 240fps for the most demanding documentary, sports or SFX slow-motion applications.


 
Varicam Pure-4K Raw Only.

Powered by Codex, VariCam Pure contains the existing VariCam 35 camera head but with the new Codex VRAW 2.0 recorder, creating a RAW only solution in a lighter and more compact body (approximately 11-lbs.). With Codex Virtual File system, users can transcode additional file formats, including Panasonic V-RAW, Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHR.


 
Before the announcement everyone was asking panasonic if they were still in the game, but  think they did not know which direction to go as they wanted to grow the DSLR market but also clientele the digital cinema. With all the changes in the last 5 years who can blame them. I think they really has to re discover themselves as they have been very sucessfull in the ENG market. I  think that as we start to see more impressive images people will jump back to panasonic.

Last But Not Least

I really wanted to save this one for last because this is not the first time that 2 camera makers teamed up to design a camera together. Back in 2006 Panavison and Sony Teamed up to introduce not 1 but 2 cameras called the Panavision Genesis and Sony F23. It was an attempt to take on Red which had some hits and misses. But this one interestingly enough was built by RED, Panavision and Light Iron to create the worlds more technological advanced camera called the Panavision Millennium Digital XL 8K.

Panavision focused on the optics, Light Iron took care of color and RED developed the sensor tech to create what may be the most complete system ever made. The team came together to marry the lenses to the camera and the camera to the workflow. The Panavision DXL was designed for their Primo 70 lenses and shoots 8K .r3d RAW, which is fully supported by RED’s workflow.

It is even capable of shooting 4K proxy files in ProRes and DNx at the same time. Even with all this technology packed in, the camera only weighs about 10 pounds. My friend Zane Townsend said that this is one of the best cameras for a camera operator. But you can't just go out and buy a panavison camera as they have always been a rental house only, so you will need to rent it if you want to get your hands on it :).
 
I have been waiting the entire blog to say this but I think both camera makers have finally got back into the game. NAB 2017 is going to be an interesting one for sure.