Toolkit: December 2023

Posted on Jan 25, 2024 by Samara Husbands

The Ultimate Gear Guide in Lenses, Lighting, and More!

From lenses to lighting, we round up the latest must-have gear to get on your radar

Schneider-Kreuznach Diopter Spot Cine Filter Line

After launching its Classic ND filter collection, Schneider-Kreuznach has released its cine filter line, Diopter Spot. The filters offer a sharp central focus while blurring the edges of the frame, creating unique, ethereal images that guide the eye towards the middle of the shot.

The Diopter Spot line comes in six variants: plain-area diameters of 25 or 50mm combined with dioptre strengths of 1/2, 1 or 2. Each filter creates a distinct effect, from subtle to strong, though the impact depends on what kind of lens it is used in conjunction with. The filters don’t require any exposure compensation to work.

The entire collection features a unified filter size of 138mm and mounts as a drop-in filter cell, fitting with any compatible matte boxes. Schneider-Kreuznach also offers Diopter Full and Diopter Split as part of its cine line. Diopter Spot filters cost £574.96, excluding VAT.

Tiffen Filters for ARRI Signature lenses

Tiffen has added a range of filter types – compatible with the Magnetic Rear Filter Holder on ARRI Signature Prime and Zoom lenses – to its collection of imaging tools. Filmmakers can choose from Black Fog, Night Fog, Black Pro Mist, Antique Black Pearlescent, Antique Pearlescent, Antique Satin, Smoque, Glimmerglass and more, giving each image a unique look and feel.

Rear filters are available in grades 1⁄8 to 2 and can be used across a range of focal lengths. This is opposed to front-of-the-lens filters, which require different strengths depending on the angle.

The Tiffen range encourages immediate changeability, since each magnetic ring easily snaps onto an ARRI Signature lens with no threading required. Made with optical-grade glass and laminated via ColorCore technology, Tiffen’s filters are manufactured in the US and automatically come with ten years of warranty.

Pixera for Virtual Production

Since its release in 2019, PIXERA has become an essential tool in virtual production. Whether in playback or real time, PIXERA can handle videos in 4K, 8K and HDR, making it a popular choice for LED volumes and other VP set-ups.

Users can tailor PIXERA to any project at all, letting them import custom-made 3D objects, LUTs, OCIO files and the like, as well as creating predetermined colour settings for realistic results. Plus, users can switch between PIXERA and other software (like Unreal Engine or Notch) without having to make adjustments, offering a truly integrative experience.

Available as either a hardware- or software-only solution, PIXERA is easy to install on both new and existing equipment. Its intuitive user interface lets clients manipulate content in real time.

Zeiss CinCraft Scenario

ZEISS has released its new camera-tracking system, CinCraft Scenario, as part of its CinCraft ecosystem. Combining Ncam’s tracking technology with ZEISS’s lens-making expertise, the system is designed for use in nearly any filmmaking environment.

CinCraft Scenario contains hybrid tracking technology that tracks both reflective and digital markers as well as features found in the surrounding area, like object edges. The system works indoors, outdoors, on sets, with blue and green screens and in LED volumes. It also provides real-time data for virtual productions and live compositing.

CinCraft Scenario benefits from ZEISS’s CinCraft lens characteristics, like plug and play, eliminating the mapping and calibration process. That said, the system works with major optical manufacturers and can integrate with Unreal Engine. Users can configure CinCraft Scenario themselves or choose from four pre-configured bundles.

Rosco DMG Lion

Rosco’s new DMG Lion – a 13in, 1000W LED fresnel – is the latest of its entertainment lighting solutions. The Lion is part of Rosco’s DMG range, which includes fixtures for the film, TV and broadcast industries.

The Lion’s 1000W of power produce a maximum output equivalent to a 2K classic tungsten fresnel, with two interchangeable LED engines – one with a full-spectrum output and the other a bicolour. Its 13in lens creates bright (but not harsh) light and crisp shadows on set, with a motorised 15-70° spot-to-flood that can be remotely controlled.

The DMG Lion works well in unpredictable outdoor environments, offering dependability in almost any weather condition, including extreme cold and high heat. It’s also designed to support future engine installations, so as LED technology evolves, the Lion evolves with it.

Rohde & Schwarz SpycerNode2

Unveiled at NAB 2023, the SpycerNode2 storage platform builds on the original SpycerNode while adding increased flexibility, scalability and connectivity. Built with IBM’s high-performance computing (HPC) technologies, the SpycerNode2 uses Spectrum Scale RAID software, boosting performance by as much as 50%.

The SpycerNode2 adds Dynamic Media Cache, allowing editors to cache regularly used content in post-production. While the original SpycerNode was constructed around channel playout, users progressively needed high-performance storage – which has been added to the SpycerNode2. 

It comes in two models, with a maximum disk count of eight (4TB) or 84 (1680TB). Together, the pair can manage a maximum capacity of 6.7PB – or be networked for more, if required. The SpycerNode2 allows for tiered storage architectures and provides complete failover protection and uninterrupted data.

Mitakon Speedmaster Cine Lens Set

Zhongyi Optics (ZY Optics) has released the Mitakon Speedmaster 20/35/50mm S35 T1 Cine Lens Set, which includes three primes, all with a wide T1.0 aperture. Each lens creates stunning images, adding cinematic depth, beautifully pronounced bokeh, precise focus and true-to-life colours.

Thanks to their wide maximum aperture, the Speedmasters excel in low-light conditions. Every shot is captured with minimal noise yet a vibrant, vintage feel. Background blurring is achieved via the lenses’ nine-blade design. A long focus throw allows for easier manual focusing, while minimum breathing means less image distortion when switching between subjects.

The Speedmaster set also makes lens-switching effortless thanks to its ‘constant unified gear position’ feature. It’s compatible with Sony E, Nikon Z, Fujifilm X and Canon RF mounts. The full set is available for £1224/$1299, with individual lenses £443/$499 each.

Megapixel Helios LED Processing Platform

Engineered by Megapixel as a single 1RU, HELIOS is a powerful yet easy-to-use LED Processing Platform that can handle full 8K+ and HDR video. With multi-user control, real-time mapping and a flexible REST API, HELIOS offers effortless user experience for professional-grade productions. 

Designed for virtual production and extended reality, HELIOS supports advanced in-camera VFX tools like Camera Mode and GhostFrame. The platform boasts 100% colour accuracy thanks to its LightScience technology, as well as exceptional tone-mapping and greyscale performance down to every subpixel. 

HELIOS comes with modular inputs for HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.4, 12G SDI and – most notably – 100G QSFP, becoming the first LED processor on the market to do so. It can ingest up to 8K/60p or four 4K/60p streams via SMPTE ST-2110 at a time, with an impressive output of 80Gbps.

Vicon Machine Learning-Powered Marker-less Technology

In a move to AI-based motion capture, Vicon (in collaboration with Dreamscape Immersive) released its machine learning-powered marker-less technology. Following nearly three years of R&D, the technology provides a true-to-life VR experience with more seamless movement and less gear.

Marker-less motion capture is a way to create experiences and animations for VR, AR and the like. The research process used real-time, full-body motion capture and headset tracking to refine algorithms and design a better, more coherent UX.

Vicon also launched its VFX Pioneer Program, hoping creators and engineers might share in the power of marker-less tech. Though useful in M&E, Vicon’s advancement can apply to business, education, medicine and more.

Samyang V-AF Lens Range

Samyang has announced the ‘world’s first cine AF lens range for full-frame E-mount’. Once completed, it will include six primes ranging from 20-100mm in focal length. The lenses, made for video creators and small-scale filmmakers, promise quick, quiet autofocus, with the option of adding a manual focus adapter for those wanting more precision.

The V-AF series is designed for high-resolution Sony FE cameras. Each lens is compact, weighing 280g or fewer, making them ideal for gimbals and drones, especially as they’re weather sealed. They offer a unified form factor and colour tone, making them easy to switch between.

The manual focus adapter allows the lens’ focus ring to control aperture, with 300° of rotation and a 95mm-diameter front element. Each lens also features a focus hold (AF) or focus save (MF) button. Lenses start from £529/$599.

First published the September 2023 issue of Definition.

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