IMG 7854 scaledHow to build a cyclorama stage...

How to build a cyclorama stage...

Las Vegas will soon have a brand new, state-of-the-art sound stage and film production studio! Whether you're creating a commercial, film, music video, or television, we're the ones to call. Our sound stage includes a three-sided cyclorama wall that is roughly 30'x30', and around 18' high! We're planning on a motorized light grid, so no ladders or scissor lifts! What on Earth is a cyclorama you may ask; let me tell you. A cyclorama in film and television is a wall that features a curve that seamlessly blends the wall into the floor or another wall. This gives the effect of having no visible lines and no shadows. Infinite possibilities!

You may wonder how to build something like that. Well, we didn't know either, so we did what you're doing right now, and got on the internet where the entirety of human knowledge (and stupidity) exists. And, keeping in mind low-attention spans, I'll make this quick-ish...

First, hammer drill, and, I cannot emphasize that enough: HAMMER DRILL! The hammer drill will make drilling into concrete much easier (it's still an awful task); it's not enough to just drill into concrete, you must also hammer the eva'livin' out of it (you may skip the gym after completion). Next, steel 2x4's will be the frame of your walls (in our case, two of the three walls we built). We spaced the 2x4's approximately every three feet. Then, drywall... oh drywall. There is no easy way of putting drywall up, except to just get in that scissor lift, and hope you don't cry in front of your colleagues when you're 20' in the air. So now, you have all your big pieces of drywall screwed into the neat frame you just built; next is what tough construction folks call "mudding".

Mud, like wet dirt? No, it's "all purpose, pre-mixed joint compound"; but, it's thick and wet like mud, so I get it. I had never "mudded" before, looked it up, and saw a bunch of people driving their over-sized trucks through fields of mud... no help there, so, I just went for it. For covering in/up the drywall screws, I just went straight out of the bucket. For "paper taping" the seams of the drywall, I found it best to put a thick bit of slightly watered down "mud" over the seam, place the paper tape, and then using two "blades" just flatten it out. Okay, this is boring.

How do you create the curves?! You buy pre-built "ribs" from a company that does archways, and you just screw them into the 2x4's and into the concrete on the ground; and for the vertical curves, you go straight into the walls (make sure you screw into a 2x4 for solid construction). Then, take a thinner sheet of drywall that is suited for bending when wet, and you bend them into shape. We took two spare ribs, put them on saw horses, and then a sheet of drywall and formed it into our mold. After you have your "mold" to shape the rest of the drywall on, you just painstakingly take each piece, start adding water and slowly add weight (sand bags) onto the center of the drywall sheet until is rests nicely into the mold. Once dry, you put it in place on the ribs, and screw in. We found that some of the sheets needed a little extra water while being screwed into place as they way not have been curved perfectly. Once that's done, it's back to the mud.

Here was the truly difficult part: using the joint compound to create a 1 1/4" gradient from the flat walls onto the curved pieces of drywall. Any bump or dip in the compound would create a shadow, which you cannot have. We started with small amounts of mud that we would attempt to build the gradient with by pulling to or from the edge... it didn't work. There was always a bump on the edge of the curved piece, and always a slight dip before the edge... it was confounding. The vertical curves were first, and we eventually were able to sand away our errors, and painstakingly fill in errors until we had no shadows. For the horizontal curve into the wall/floor, we went with a different approach. We took a 12" flat blade, and added a ton of mud to the edge of the curve on the wall, then, we aligned the blade's end to the edge of the curved piece of wall, the opposite end flat against the wall above it, and just drug the blade as far as the mud would go. This gave us a ton of holes and cracks, but it was an almost perfect gradient from the wall onto the curve. Then, for the second pass, we would go in and fix our little holes, gutters, groves, etc., worked much better! This took us from 6-12 passes (and sanding) on the horizontal curves, to just 2-3 passes on the horizontals. Much better!

The curve to the floor was the exact same process as the joint compound on the horizontal bit of curve, except, instead of joint compound, we used concrete. Luckily, the concreted didn't end up being much more difficult to work with. Let me wrap this up, it's getting boring I'm sure. There was a lot of sanding! We had to sand after each application of mud or concrete, and after two passes with paint. For paint, we did a thick, high quality white paint to help fill in little cracks and bumps, but mostly just used a white primer, as it's matte, budget friendly, and looks great. I think we're four or five coats in.

So, with masks on the entire time, for COVID safety and lung safety (from sanding and painting) despite the oven our studio is during the day, we powered through. We still need a couple more passes with paint, and I'm certain we'll find a blemish or two that need some attention, but, we're close. Next, professionals who actually know what they're doing will come in to run our three power drops (60 amps to the grid, and two 100 amp drops to the floor). Someone will add temperature insulation and air conditioning. We'll have someone install sound dampening items to the ceiling and walls, another person will put up our 10x20'-ish motorized light grid...

And, when that's finally done... we'll make cinematic magic!


summerFilming in the Desert Heat

Filming in the Desert Heat

We are a third of the way through spring, which means that summer is around the corner, including summer heat. Filming in the heat of the summer comes with it's challenges. It's important to note that most pieces of gear have minimum and maximum operating temperatures. Cameras generally top out around 104 degrees; here in Vegas, it's common to surpass that. Best practice is to keep cameras, audio mixers, computers, etc, as shaded as possible.

Filming in shorter spurts when possible can help to regulate gear temperature, and can ultimately lead to more productive shoots. Furthermore, investing in additional 4'x4' solid cutters can help create added shade for crew and gear. It's also good practice to have your crew bring gloves and multi-tools, as metal gear can become burning hot sitting in the sun.

Hopefully, we'll be back up and running sooner than later, and we can enjoy the scorching heat. Stay safe, stay hydrated, and stay filming.


george eastman mediumOne this day in photographic history.

One this day in photographic history.

Fun facts to fill your face with: on this day (April 6th) in 1889, George Eastman began selling his Kodak flexible rolled film, helping bring photography to the mainstream. George Eastman was of course, one of the two founding members of Eastman Kodak Company. Kodak was a pioneer in many aspects of photography and film from the late nineteenth century until the end of the twentieth century.

Prior to Eastman's camera, a glass-plate negative was needed for each exposure. The Kodak camera was preloaded with a flexible film roll of that would take up to 100 exposures. Once the 100 exposures were taken, the camera was sent back to Kodak, who processed the film and mailed back the images. The images were circular, and had a diameter of 2 5/8". The camera sold for $25.00 in 1888. Instead of a viewfinder, there were two V-shaped lines on the top of the camera's leather case to help aim.

The camera sold for $25.00, the developing the images was an additional $10.00. Once the roll was developed, the camera was reloaded, and sent back with the images. Spare rolls of film were sold for $2.00 if you wanted to ball out and process your own images.

The moral of this story is: we have it pretty good today... thank god for the cameras on our iPhones.


Flag of Nevada.svgIntermission...

Intermission...

In accordance with Governor Steve Sisolak and the fine folks in Carson City, we have stood down as "a non essential business". To be honest, though, we can think of nothing more essential than production! We will stand down for 30 days and do our part to help our community, city, and state. James Moore, General Manager of F11 Rentals, will be available from home to help in any way possible. And we sincerely hope to be back to helping make cinema-magic soon!

On a personal note, we send out our best to all of our friends, clients, and the like. We know that most filmmakers are freelancers, and are feeling the horrible, and terrifying reality of little to no paychecks. We also know that our friends, clients, and/or their families may be affected by illness, anxiety, frustration, etc., and we truly hope the best for all. Believe that you are all in our thoughts, and we will be relentless in our determination to get everyone back on track when society picks back up. We will continue our 19% discount until the effects of this pandemic dissipate.

So, be well, be safe, and be calm. Please do your part so that we can get past this, and get back to awesome. We're here as best as we can be, and send our best. Peace be with you.


Sennheiser MD 46Sennheiser MD 46

Best Microphones in the Wind.

Unless you're making a movie about tornadoes or the sea, wind is not good. Heck, even when you're making a movie about tornadoes or the sea, wind is not good. You don't actually want wind, especially the audio department. What audio wants, is to put the sound of the wind in during post production. However, sometimes, it just can't be helped; so, here are a couple of mics that are great in the wind:

Sennheiser MD 46. This hand-held microphone is phenomenal in loud situations. Whether you're talking wind, loud music, traffic, whatever, this microphone will sound clean and crisp. The microphone was specifically designed for interviews in loud environments, and maximizes it's cardioid audio receiving design.

Schoeps CMIT 5. This shotgun microphone is industry standard for a reason! Light weight, dependable, and squeaky clean audio capture make it a must have! Coupled with our zeppelin and faux-fur wind cover, you'll have no problem battling the elements.

If you have a production coming up that needs guaranteed, clean audio, reach out and we'll get you set up with a great microphone and audio mixer.


Tight SpacesBest Gear for Small Spaces

Best Gear for Small Spaces

Filming in hotel rooms and on the trade show floor have one thing in common: small spaces. Hotel rooms are not designed with filmmaking in mind - of course. Also, the Realestate at say, CES, is very expensive! When you're not in a studio or wide open spaces, the right gear is crucial for success. Here are some of our favorite "small spaces" items:

Cinevate Duzi 4 slider. This amazing item gives you a 24 fantastic inches of sliding glory. It's light weight, and unassuming.

Edelkrone Slider Plus. Another awesome solution for motion, this item is great with DSLR cameras. The addition of the Steady Module was a game changer; adding much needed tension for smooth slides.

DJI Ronin-S. One of our favorite items, the Ronin-S immediately increases production value. DSLRs are easy to balance, and the Ronin is so simple to operate.

Sound Devices 633. While great in the studio, the 633 is really compact for how much versatility it gives you, and how many channels of audio you can capture. (Make sure to have a harness so you don't wreck your back!)

Litepanels Gemini 1x1 LED. You can do Man-on-the-Street interviews and b-roll all day with just one of these lights. They output a tremendous amount of light for their size and weight. Four batteries should get you through the day.

Canon 5D Mark IV or Sony a7S II. Both of these cameras are easy to use, capture great images, and can be used with all the above listed gear. The only caveat is audio capturing; however, if you have the 633, you can just record audio to your mixer. Less cables, more smiles.

Anytime you're here in Fabulous Las Vegas, make sure to hit us up and get the video production rental gear you need to succeed.


Canon VS Sony VS Nikon 525x350 1Matching cameras on Multi-camera shoots.

Matching cameras on Multi-camera shoots.

How important is it to match cameras (make and model) on multi-camera shoots? Like everything in production, that depends on your end goal. Generally speaking, you always want to match not only brand (make), but also the model of camera. There are differences for instance, between the image produced by a Sony FS7 MkII and a Sony a7S II, but it's not a huge difference. You could dive into the specs of the processors, image sensors, color space, etc., but when push comes to shove, they're very similar. Let us hypothesize a few scenarios:

Two-subject, three-camera interview. Budget is always the driving factor in production. Using a DSLR as your lock-off wide shot for a two or three person interview is great. You can easily match shooting specs, and shoot without a color profile. Additionally, run audio to your nicer cameras capturing the singles, and you're great.

Event coverage with interviews. If you have the budget to have a Sony FS7, Canon C300 MkII, or similar, you want to take advantage. However, getting smooth gimbal or slider shots is much easier with a DSLR and Ronin-S or Cinevate Duzi (think small and light). The b-roll that you're using to compliment your interviews will look great as long as you're matching camera makes (Canon with Canon, etc.)

Different cameras, same assignments. If you have two crews capturing similar content, but using different brands of cameras. The common viewer may not notice, but an experienced client probably will.

All in all, while the world won't end if you mix camera brands or models... life will be easier if you don't.


IMG 7161Loading Production Gear into Las Vegas Hotels.

Loading Production Gear into Las Vegas Hotels.

Las Vegas Video Production often happens in, on, and around The Strip. Whether you're on Las Vegas Boulevard or in one of the many properties, it's important to know how to get around. Logistics are of course, a huge part of any production. That being said, how do you get your gear into the hotels? Can you just push through the front doors? Do you have permission to use the Loading Dock? Maybe just bring a flashlight and record on your iPhone?

A lot of times, if you have a Grip Cart or less worth of gear, you can push through the lobby/hotel. If you have multiple or larger carts, you may need to use the loading dock. Gaining access to the loading dock always requires permission, and occasionally an appointment. By simply calling the property, you should be able to set up a time to use the loading dock for a short while. Remember that docks are busy places, so you have to be quick and usually can't leave your vehicle.

In rare instances, the loading dock will actually be more trouble than not, and so, it's best to use self parking. Remember, it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. All told, most properties are willing to accommodate, and they're grateful for the business your client brings. If you work with them, they're usually willing to help you out. If you have any questions, drop us a line!


green screen magic

Green Screen Filming Basics

Green Screens are a popular way to create exciting, resourceful, and dynamic videos. Corporate and commercial work is a great example. A green screen enables you to add text, graphics, and logos. Also, green screens can really help when a location is not very attractive to film in.

Lighting a green screen correctly is not difficult, but it is very important for the post process. It is critical to have a very even spread of light across the entire screen. Similarly, it is very important to make sure the screen is not brighter than your subject. A great place to start on your waveform is an even line around 45 for the screen, and then your subject's face should be around 60. There are obviously exceptions with skin tones and wardrobe, but it's a good place to start.

For the budget conscience, I would recommend a set of Kino Divas for the screen, and an Arri Tungsten kit for the subject. 750 with a softbox for the key, 300 for the fill, and 150 for the backlight. About $250.00 will get you that gear with us. However, if you have a larger budget, you could go: S2 LiteMat 4s for the screen, a couple Astra Gemini 1x1s for the key and fill, and then a Dracast 1K for the backlight. That setup would set you back about $700.00, but it would be totally Cash Money of you.

Either way you go, we have the video production rental gear you need!


59432702280 F6752902 4D67 47F2 99E2 24ECD800FD46 scaledHow to pair Titan Tubes to the ART7 AsteraBox.

How to pair Titan Tubes to the ART7 AsteraBox.

The Astera Titan Tubes are a wonderful light for so many applications. They can be controlled easily and precisely through the ART7 AsteraBox. Choosing colors, filters, modes, groups, dimming, run-time, etc. is simple! The best place to start is pairing the lights to the box; here's how:

  1. Turn on the AsteraBox, and launch the AsteraApp on your phone or tablet.
  2. Through the AsteraApp's main menu (upper right corner), select the AsteraBox you want to pair with.
  3. Turn on all the tubes you want to pair.
  4. Press the "Menu" button, scroll to "Input", press "Enter".
  5. Scroll to "App Control", and press "Enter".
  6. Press and hold the power button for 3 seconds, the tube will start to flash blue. (Blue mode)
  7. In the AsteraApp's main menu, select "Pair with Lights".
  8. As the lights pair, they'll default to white. You're ready to go!

You can also reach out to us if you need further help. Of course, you can also rent Astera Titan Tubes if you need them! Happy filming.