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Cinema Labs AutoFocus 3 channel Lens Control System

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#1 Jens Piotrowski SOC

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 06:10 PM

http://cinema-labs.com/index.html

 

Here is a product to look forward to at this years NAB.

 

Not much is known at this point but it will be different from all other products on the market, including the EASYFOCUS system, stay tuned....

 

http://www.easyfocus.at/


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#2 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 07:27 PM

They called me trying to sell me on it. Their pitch was painful at best
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#3 Jens Piotrowski SOC

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 07:29 PM

let's see what it is and can do first...


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#4 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 07:40 PM

According to them it's a automatic follow focus device that they claim will provide 100% in focus images for every frame shot. When I asked about focus throws or filling dialog it was met with "huh?" I asked them what makes this different from the cMotion and he couldn't answer that
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#5 Kevin Andrews SOC

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 09:33 PM

Got the call too. Supposedly the system will know who and what is supposed to be in focus and when. An operator or AC can make adjustments on the fly. Pricing around $30-40k


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#6 flemming laybourn

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 08:56 AM


im sorry mr Eric Fletcher, but whats with the attitude...?

This,mto me, is a classic example of what is wrong with this forum:
someone writes a post about something..new equipment, whatever..... and bum..! the negative comments start popping up. often based on nothing more than rumours and hear say..
Mr Fletcher, We dont know each other, Im a operator from europe. Not so active on the forum, but I try to read up on as many threads ( or is it spelled "threats"..? ) as i can, in order to stay in tune with whats going on in our industry..
Which means that I cant help to notice that you are a very active participant in here.
but from where im standing, you dont really come off to me as a guy with a very positive vibe..?

Im not questioning that you are probably a skilled and experienced operator, with a huge knowledge of our common trade.
But as our famous scandinavian fiction caracter "Pippi Longstockings" once said:
- "if you are very strong, you have to be very nice"

For a while now there has been an ongoing debate in here about bullying, and bad attitude.. no one ever mentions any names, which might be because this is primarily an internal american issue, and people are afraid to get in bad standing.?

but this thread to me is a good example of where it often starts.

best regards

Flemming Laybourn / Denmark
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#7 Michael Maga

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 09:20 AM

Pick your battles more carefully Flemming, this is the wrong one. He said nothing wrong here.. no need to add drama.

He simply told us about his conversation with them, and his opinion on it.


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#8 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 09:24 AM

Flemming

 

Heres the issue. I asked about doing racks and was informed that they are done at a predefined speed.  That doesn't work, that's where the focus pullers art comes from. See the good ones listen to the music and then time their pulls off that. The speed of a head turn, the unplanned tag. maybe they put a shape on the pull by changing the acceleration on it.  Ever hear the saying "Drum machines have no soul"?  same difference. the reason that Kenny Arnott, Buddy Rich, Neil Peart and Carter Beauford are such great drummers isn't their fantastic time keeping but lies in the subtle errors in that time keep and the "shape" they put on what they do.

 

When I tried to explain that I got the answer that they built a unit that provides 100% perfect forces for every frame, and couldn't understand why that's not what we want


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#9 Dean Smollar

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 10:09 AM

I respect the idea, and it's nice to hear that people are trying to come up with new ideas, but I don't think auto-focusing is the answer.

There are two kinds of focus pulls: Proactive and Reactive. The best looking pulls are almost always the proactive ones (sometimes reactive pulls get lucky, and top quality AC's can adjust on the fly). An auto-focusing machine would need to read & measure the distance to an object, then pull to that distance, creating a delay like we already see in cameras with auto-focus functions. Even if they refine the technology I don't see how there wouldn't still be some form of delay; I see this device playing a never ending game of catch-up, and I feel like more shots would be ruined by the machine than by a halfway decent 1st.

But let's say, for the sake of argument, that this product works as advertised; I'm sure the people building it are talented At the end of the day, it still seems like they're creating a solution for a problem that doesn't exist in the world it's being marketed for. Are you working with a crappy AC who can't focus worth a damn? Then you're probably not making a rate that could afford you a $30-40k follow focus. Are you working on a show with people who know their stuff? Then why would you need a robot to do your job? Freedom of control is a key element in the artistry of this business.

Maybe this would be super useful for motion control, or for situations where everything else is automated/preprogrammed, like the Bot and Dolly system.
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#10 Orlando Duguay

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 11:30 AM

Got this call as well.  Apparently it works by attaching a small RFID chip or something similar to the actor which the focus driver then hones in on and keeps the focus locked on that particular person or object.  This concept seems to make more sense than the Easyfocus which I have never seen work well in practice.  I don't see it as being particularly useful for steadicam, but it could be helpful for extremely long lens action shots on cranes etc, where focus is critical and there isn't room for multiple takes.


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#11 Peter Hoare

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Posted 02 April 2014 - 04:57 PM

In the video showing the auto focus tracking on the Andra box, it shows that tracking transponder as about the size of a smart phone. 

 

They then show (what I presume is supposed to be a demo of the auto focus?) tracking focus on a chess piece and the end of a gun, both of which are far too small for the smart phone sized transponder.... 

 

Also no photos of the motor or the sensor on the camera, which personally, im very interested in seeing. 


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#12 Tuomas Viitakoski

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Posted 02 April 2014 - 07:43 PM

Both MCU (pictured with the tablet) and ARC (with the focus knob etc) has antennas on but in the last Vimeo vid (at 01:26) on the News Shooter's page you can see cables dangling from the Movi.. what are they for..?
But it hasn't been said that it would be a completely wireless system :)

Really interested to see what's their final product. $12,000 is not much compared to a Preston FIZ system and a Cinetape but cannot compare to a skilled focuspuller who is gonna save my ass every now and then.

AndraMCUandApp_g.png
ANDRA-Arc-far-600x400.jpg


sources:
http://andra.com/faq/
http://www.newsshoot...sible-possible/



 - STOP THE SKYNET!


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#13 Afton Grant

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Posted 02 April 2014 - 10:22 PM

I've had conversations with AC's in the past about the future of various technologies on set.  Focus pulling seems to be one that has popped up more than once.  And way before I'd ever heard of this particular product, the concept of a Tag/Receiver system was discussed in theory.  Each time, I give it some good thought, but keep running into one obstacle....

 

If you hide a tag on a subject you wish to pull to, I have no doubt the technology exists that would accurately determine the distance between that tag and a receiver somewhere on the camera.  The key problem, however, is the distance is measured TO THE TAG... not to the eyes, or the hand or whatever it is you need to focus on.  What if the actor turns sideways?  Puts their back to us, but turns their head toward camera?  Bends over?  Leans in?  Even simply standing up straight, facing camera, the distance to the tag will be different than the distance to the eyes - simple geometry will tell you that.  

 

Soooo....I always like to say "never say never", and I try to be as open minded as possible when it comes to new trends.  In this case, however, I think the problem of pulling focus for cinema was solved a long time ago by the focus puller!  These people do everything the technology can do, except they do it faster, they do it more intuitively, they do it more reliably in the long term.  Sure, they complain to no end, but they get the job done.  Why?  Because that's their job and their skill, and they train to do it well and most of them do.  If I were a DP and an AC brought a fancy system like this onto my set, I'd say, "Awesome!  Go ahead and use it.  The first time that thing goes glitchy and ruins a take because the battery died, or it didn't have a good connection, or you received a text message or something....I'm throwing it out the stinking window."


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#14 Charles Papert

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Posted 02 April 2014 - 11:11 PM

I too was contacted by this company and we had a good dialogue.

 

Yes, a skilled focus puller is worth their weight in gold. However, there are situations as we all know where things can push the ability of almost all of them. Wide open on long lenses, camera moving--occasional buzzes are a way of life and we know and accept this. If an automated system can actually out-perform an AC in certain circumstances, there is a place for that.

 

Look, we all agree that when an AC has to pull from one character to another, they are making choices that no algorithm can replicate. But a significant chunk of focus pulling is simply keeping a given subject sharp, with no other mandate than that. If an automated system can ASSIST with that aspect (not REPLACE the AC's skills), why wouldn't there be a place for that? If they can toggle in and out of an assisted mode at their discretion, wouldn't that be worth it?

 

I brought up a scenario to Sam Morgan Moore today where a racecar is barreling towards camera on a long lens. Few AC's are going to be able to take that car all the way as it approaches; in almost all cases there is a point where it will fall apart and we simply expect that. In that scenario, an automated system may be able to maintain focus to the point where the driver is literally in a closeup. Sam points out that modern still lenses can do exactly that, by calculating and extrapolating the speed the object is approaching. Basically this is the kind of scenario Preston tackled years ago with the Light Ranger.

 

As Afton notes (and as I discussed with the folks behind the Andra), a piece of gear is only bringing on if it works reliably. AC's are notoriously slow to adopt new tech (anyone remember how much grumbling there was about the HU3? and how many AC's even remember how to use the range buttons that have been on the Preston hand units since the beginning?) and this device would have to really knock it out of the park to be accepted.

 

I'm sure a bunch of us will play with it at the show next week and have plenty to say.


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#15 Jens Piotrowski SOC

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Posted 02 April 2014 - 11:35 PM

Does it work with 2 cameras shooting 2 different subjects at the time in the same set?
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