Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mailbox: Mattebox TrusMT M2


Barely a few hours back in Amsterdam and DHL stopped by to drop me a package containing an impressive Chinese mattebox. This is my first mattebox and since I haven't had any sleep for 36 hours, I am glad I managed to set it up without any major problems... Although I couldn't get a camera mounted properly with this configuration. I had a problem fitting different lenses so that they line up nicely with the opening in the mattebox.
First impression: feels like a pro piece of gear but the french flag is really hard to screw into position tight. I like the swing-away feature and the two slots for the 4x4 filters that rotate independently.
There's no manual included how to set this thing up properly. Not that it seems terribly complicated but a few tips/instructions would be nice. I'll write more about this mattebox soon. And if anyone knows of some good, affordable 4x4 filters, drop me a line!




Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Crazy toy speedboat and GoPro HD Hero

On my last day in the US, a beautiful day spent partly on the beach, there was a guy fooling around with a remote controlled, miniature motorized speedboat. You couldn't help notice because the thing made so much noise, like a giant, mad insect...
I had my GoPro with me (carry a camera at all times!) and went up to the guy, asking if I could mount my camera to his boat. And so we did. This thing was about 2 feet long and went completely out of control after a minute or so in the water, furiously trying to shake off the camera.

But the GoPro stuck like perma-glue... a 100 point ride for the HD Hero!

Crazy toy speedboat and GoPro HD Hero from Filmersblog on Vimeo.

Monday, August 29, 2011

GoPro HD holds up in hurricane Irene

So Irene stopped us on our way out of the States. But could Irene stop my GoPro HD Hero? The hurricane has slammed into Massachussets on sunday August 28, according to the weatherforecasters and the hordes of desperate, sensation-hungry reporters waiting for a disaster to report on... This ia a great opportunity to test how waterproof my GoPro HD really is, how well it sticks to a car while gushing winds are trying to rip it off and if it holds up to the pounding of tidal waves...
Well, I can tell you the GoPro is indeed a Hero, withstanding 'the abuse' with flying colors. If you can survive a 'hurricane', you can survive anything, right?! Check out the footage and convince yourself. Parental Guidance recommended...

GoPro HD holds up in 'hurricane' Irene from Filmersblog on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

iPhone remote control your DSLR

It's called and has been around foa a few months. It got some good initial reviews, it's been updated several times and i wonder if anyone has used this in a professional situation. Looks like a great app with features such as Shoot, Bracket, Long Exposure, Movie controls, Timelapse, HDR bracketing and many options. 5 bucks for the app and 19,- for the infrared transmitter.

Playing with DSLR.Bot Application from emmagination on Vimeo.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Exit USA, Amsterdam here we come

Our family home in Hingham, Massachussets

It's been an incredible 4 weeks in the USA, starting in Vero Beach, Florida and then driving through Georgia, South and North Carolina, Tennessee, DC, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Shot some nice footage, bought some nice gear, met beautiful people and ended the trip at the house I have come to stay with my father since I was 7 years old, here in Hingham, Massachusetts.
Our car just refused to start up just when we're about to go the airport, Irene is on our tail so the time has come to go back to Amsterdam and back to work.
But this trip started me thinking: can I make a living as a filmer in the USA..?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mailbox: articulating arm

I bought the 7 inch version of these earlier this year for US $44,- and it has earned a permanent spot either in my office or on my bicycle when mounting a camera to the seatpost or steering wheel. The I think it's a great little tool and when I saw the 11 inch model being offered for US $29,- incl shipping (to the US) I immediately ordered one. Use it to mount lights, monitors, mics, you name it- on your rig or in combination with a small (nano) clamp to a tabletop, chair, tripod, bicycle, whatever. Very handy.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mailbox: GoPro LCD BacPac

Got my LCD screen for my GoPro HD Hero one day after ordering- lightning fast shipping! It's a beautiful little screen and it comes with 2 extra housings, one for waterproof and one for non-waterproof use (the latter one is not sealed and thus has better audio) I was afraid the LCD screen would drain batterypower but it has a on/off button that works independently from the camera. This -and the GoPro Hero- seem like such simple devices but everything is so well designed and thought through... very 'Pro'..!


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cracked: Cowboy Studio shoulder support

Upon opening my suitcase I noticed a part of my Cowboy Studio shoulder support was busted... I didn't even get a chance to use my new shoulder support before it broke, apparently cracking under pressure..? This is odd because we didn't take a plane, where our suitcases could have been banged around and 'excessive force' was exercised... I just took my suitcase out of the car a few times- it even was a Samsonite so it was not like the gear was unprotected!
I'll contact the seller and see what they have to say. I hope they have a professional response. I remember many years ago I bought a cheap wrench-set on a market in Amsterdam. The first time I used it to adjust my bicycle seat, the wrench broke in two clean pieces... I went back to the stand and the seller looked at the wrench, then at me and said: "Well, what did you expect for 5 euro's..?"

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Just ordered: GoPro LCD BacPac

After unboxing my new GoPro HD yesterday, I sucked it onto my sister's old Volvo 960 and realized there was no way to frame the shot..?! You really need to buy the additional LCD BacPac -a tiny LCD screen that sticks to the back of the camera- to actually see what you're doing.
We drove to nearby Barrington as I anxiously ogled the HD Hero stuck on the rooftop, scared it would fall off and be crushed by traffic behind us...
That didn't happen and the footage looked great, better than expected- very sharp, and unjittery! Will post some video asap. This little camera shines but the LCD screen will turn what would otherwise remain a great gadget into a functional camera.

Monday, August 22, 2011

My latest camera: the GoPro HD (pricedrop)


It's all your fault. I felt obliged to post more videogear-related topics during this trip to the States and that's why I bought the GoPro HD on my way out of New York. Actually, I planned to just take a look at the B&H Superstore but when I walked around, I realized I was not going to leave this store without making a purchase. B&H has redefined the concept of a professional photo/video store. The complete choice of gear, the knowledge of the salespersons, the electric trolleys used to transport purchases to the cashregister: this is one smooth selling machine... (I am not in any way affiliated to B&H! I'm still waiting for an offer ;-)
So I was drooling over a line-up of camera's when a salesperson pulled out a GoPro HD to show a customer. It turned out this thing had just had a pricedrop from 299,- to 249,- I could not let it pass... After all, I found 110 dollars a few days earlier. Got an extra battery, a tripod mount and a handlebar-mount just to top it all off. Footage and review will follow later. Let's go shoot some action footage!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Exit NYC, enter Massachussettes


With pain in my heart I am leaving NY today. The three days flew by in a flash. The city and the people who live & work here made a deep impression, more so than before... Remarkable: while filming the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry I was told that The Law did not allow me 'to use a tripod on City Property' ... That was rather ironic.

Will make one quick stop at a photo&video supply shop and drive on to Sheffield, Mass. It promises to be a beautiful drive.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Money on the streets of NYC!


What makes you feel more at home in NYC than being cursed at by a cabdriver? Finding money in the streets! I found over a 100 bucks lying right on the pavement in front of a hotdog stand! What are the odds of getting at these 5 twenty dollar bills plus a ten dollar bill before someone else does..?!
I decided to immediately treat myself to a small magic arm I read about and cost next to nothing these days. And I still have some money left to spend at BH Photo&Video...


I walked about 8 miles -carrying my GH2 permanently attached to my Slik Pro tripod (really glad with the foam padding on the legs so I can comfortably rest the tripod on my shoulder while walking) and shot some nice NY footage. But the highlight of the day was without doubt the opportunity to see the city from atop a highrise on Carnegie Hill. This must be the best view of New York City- incredible, uninterrupted views in all 4 wind directions. Mindblowing!
Other film-related news: spotted about 5 DSLR-shooters, sniffed at he NY Film Academy and saw a placque in Central Park dedicated to my production company, Imagine Video!


Friday, August 19, 2011

Entering New York City - a timelapse

It was many years since I last visited New York and, like most people, have never driven a car into the city. How many people would?! It is madness to visit any metropole in the world by car- traffic is alien&hectic, parking spots are impossible to find and if you do find one... it costs the price of a motelroom for 2 in rural Georgia...
But I would have not wanted to miss the experience of driving into this place. Nothing makes you feel at home quicker than being cut off by other cars, being cursed at and fighting for your lane with cabbies, bike-messengers and bus-drivers. In my Jeep Grand Cherokee I felt like a modern-day Mad Max at the Tunderdome. Arrived at the hotel without a traffic jam or a scratch... Home!

Shot on a GH2 with a Lumix 20mm 1.7 pancake lens, in a Puma sneaker stuck on my dashboard.

Entering New York City - a timelapse from Filmersblog on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Exit Washington, enter New York

We had an incredible drive yesterday from Wytheville to Washington. Drove through the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, into the mountains followed by suburbia and Washington.
It turned out there are 2 Washington's , which we didn't realize so when we hit Washington, we had another 70 miles to go to Washington DC... (Finally realized what 'DC' stands for...)


It was past 7 PM by the time we found a parking garage and we headed straight for the White House to meet Obama. Unfortunately he was on the phone and couldn't come to the gates to discuss funding for my documentary 'I am Innocent'. A spokeswoman said "he'll look into it...". We all know what that means.

What's the next best thing to filming yourself? Making pictures of other filmers! I saw a TV-crew doing a standupper and decided to photograph them. I couldn't help myself and this is filmersblog, after all...


And now we're off to the Big Apple! Home of B&H! Thousands of filmers. Stage for many more acclaimed, historic films!! Stay tuned for my adventures in the Greatest Film City of the world...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Leaving Wythville, Virginia...

We're off to Washinton, leaving Wythville, Virginia behind. What will we remember Wythville for? Driving around in endless circles trying to find the 'ideal hotel' after sleeping in cheap, moldy motels for the last few nights. We had our minds set on the Marriott, which ould not be found by GPS. Even the gas station attendant could not tell us where it was. ("never heard of it") After 45 minutes we found it: right behind the very same same gas station we asked for directions...
But the reward was great: clean, kingsize beds! No smells! Spanking new bathroom! A good night sleep!

And this is the view of Wythville through the bugscreen of our hotelroom... Pretty cool pattern...


What does this ll have to do with filming? Nothing!
But I can tell you I've learned some new things about my SmallHD DP4, (will write about it later) got some more nice footage with the Super Takumar 50mm 1.4 and that I'm very grateful I brought my Slik Pro 700DX/Manfrotto 438/Fancier FT717-AH fluid head combo!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

No time to film

Well, not entirely true but we're moving so much I can't share it,
yet! Shot some nice night footage last night. Now off to water
rafting and then Virginia...

Monday, August 15, 2011

FF on the cheap!

I had a few small ones- these are great to get smooth focus on a prime
lens. Driving out of Athens,Georgia, I saw a Bed&Bath and grabbed my
chance - and a large 'opener' for my bigger lenses. $2,99 for a follow
Now I'm all focussed on my way to the Smoky Mountains and Tennessee!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Filmersblog is on the road...

Filmersblog just hit the road, riding north from Florida to Savannah,
Georgia Here we are, feeling really good about myself and my shiny
Jeep Larodee. Nice ride: let's burn some rubber!!
Hope to be able to post something everything day!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Great, free vintage footage

If you are looking for unusual, historical or classical video footage, the Internet Archive is the place to go. You can download almost anything there, from old news items dating as far back as early last century, to entire movies from Hitchcock (his first 'talkie'!), to personal footage and concert registrations! There's some great stuff to be found. You name it, it's there. They offer download in various formats, amongst which Ogg, MPEG2 and MPEG4.
Many of the copyright falls under the 'Public Domain', which means that "the Work may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, used, modified, built upon, or otherwise exploited by anyone for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial, and in any way, including by methods that have not yet been invented or conceived."

This is a veritable treasure chest of film and videomaterial! Here is a great one I found from the Prelinger Archive: As Boys Grow: Sex Education for Young Males, made in 1957.  A classic...

Great free vintage footage from Filmersblog on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Watch and Drool: MOVE

This is the way to go: a wonderfully simple idea, executed to perfection. "3 guys, 44 days, 11 countries, 18 flights, 38 thousand miles, an exploding volcano, 2 cameras and almost a terabyte of footage..."
I don't want to seem to be obsessed with numbers... (perhaps I am) but these guys have blown the roof off the house with their numbers: almost 4 million views in 8 days!! Almost 24.000 likes on Vimeo!! Granted it wasn't shot on an afternoon in the park around the corner- it took a wee bit more time and a few extra dollars but this is crazy, out of this world...
They also made 'EAT' and 'LEARN' but after having seen MOVE... that's a hard act to follow... Respect for the makers of MOVE.

MOVE from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Super Takumar test footage

I shot some video here in my father's place in Vero Beach, Florida using the Super Takumar 50mm 1.4 on my Panasonic GH2. I also used my SmallHD DP4 for the first time in the way I will most often use it- without being plugged in to the wall, battery-powered. (what a pleasure to work with, by the way!)
The footage was shot with available (evening) light, which was very little. I was wide open and had to up the ISO from 1600-2500. No grading. The image looks tacksharp and has great bokeh. I pulled focus -manually, on the lens(!)- from inch to inch and you can see how incredible a job it does with the twigs, coral and shells. In the last shot the focus moves from the couch and pillows and then closes in from twig to twig. (it looks like a lot of dissolves but it's 'straight footage')

The music is from a CD that was lying around here and it won't get me in trouble with copyrights: it's kind of a spoof made by my niece Frederique Masselink-van Rijn, who has moved on to becoming a rising star as a photographer.

Super Takumar test footage from Filmersblog on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mailbox: OEM LP-E6 batteries

I received my much-awaited LP-E6 clones today, for which I paid express shipping so I can use my SmallHD DP4 during my stay here in the States this month. I paid $30,- for 2 batteries including travel charger, car charger and express shipping.
The batteries do not display information to the camera but since I am solely using them for my monitor, I don't need that function. And I hate to pay for something I don't use.
These batteries are 2200 MAh, which I believe is more than the standard Canon 1800 mAh and I confirm that they work ;-) The question is, of course, for how long. Time will tell.
For now they power up my DP4 and I've had the pleasure to shoot some video with the battery-powered monitor, my GH2 and my new Super-Takumar 50mm 1.4. I love this lens already- will post footage tomorrow!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Commercials in the USA

I've been coming to the States since I was a little boy.

I have strong memories of American television. Endless cartoons, the Adams Family, Batman! It was children's heaven. The commercials also made a big impression because you couldn't escape them; every few minutes the program would interrupt with advertisements for cereals, toys, dog food, to name just a few...

My memories of these commercials are of positive, dynamic and naieve images of a Disney-reality. They represented a fantasy world of happy, wealthy families with big houses, cars and dogs. Pictures of the American Dream.

Today I am here and see that commercials have not really changed in more than 30 years. They still have that goofy optimism. But for the first time I also notice how simple many of them are made: people shouting in your face with harsh lighting and unattractive scenery. Like cheap soap operas. American filmmakers have changed the world with their creativity and craftmanship but in TV-commercials very little of that talent is reflected. And I can't help but wonder: why?

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Vitaliy Kiselev, the guy who hacked the Panasonic GH1 and GH2, has a lively website and a lot of discussion on filmmaking, camera's and good, cheap gear in general. If you register on his website and 'post something really useful", you can sign in for a group buy deal.
I registered and immediately made an important contribution in the form of sound advice on cheap lav mics and, by God, Vitaliy deemed me worthy of becoming a member of his 'community'...
So it looks like I'm getting a nice deal on a TrusMT mattebox, more than $100 off the regular price.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Initial results: the 10.000 viewer challenge

Two weeks back I posted my submission to the 10.000 viewer challenge: a simple clip of dogs playing in the park. My goal was to reach 1000 viewers in a month, 10.000 in six months.

Today I'm halfway the month and I can proudly say that the current viewer number between YouTube (353) and Vimeo (139) : 492

That means I'm perfectly on track for reaching 1000 viewers in a month- if this trend continues. The problem is, I don't expect the numbers to grow at the same rate if I don't actively promote the video. Which, by the way, is an important lesson I learned from this enterprise: don't count on the video doing its own marketing. You have to work at getting your video seen in the right market. You may have made something brilliant but if you don't tell people it's out there, the chances of it being discovered are small. Now I'm not saying my video is brilliant, far from it. It's just a nice, 'feel-good' clip with a popular subject (dogs) and a catchy song.
The response has been nice, especially from dog-owners. I signed up with a dog-forum in Holland and within one day I had almost 30 written responses to the video, all of them enthousiastic.

But to be honest, I counted on a 'snowball-effect': dog-people ending it to other dog-people. But to accomplish that, the clip was simply not special enough. I may get my 1000 viewers in a month, but I will not reach 10.000 viewers in 6 months, that I know now.  It needed something extra, something that would lift it out of the crowd. It needed a very rare moment, like a blooper, a freak accident, something nasty or way out of the ordinary. THEN it would have been forwarded and created a snowball effect.

While writing this, I read about the YouTube Creator Playbook, a new tool that will help you create an audience. Should be interesting and I will defintely delve in.

I also have another idea for a clip that will definitely create a stirr. You will hear about that when I'm back in Amsterdam.

But first let's see if I can get my 1000 viewers by the end of this month. Help me out and send this clip to all the doglovers and/or doghaters you know.

The 10.000 viewer challenge! from Filmersblog on Vimeo.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Mailbox: SmallHD DP4



I received my SmallHD DP4 today. First -superficial- impressions: great design and feel. The monitor itself is featherlight, the viewfinder feels rocksolid, almost clunky in comparison. I'm almost afraid to mount it on the monitor for fear of bending/breaking it! It's probably better to attach the monitor to the viewfinder than vice versa. That is to say, don't mount the viewfinder when the monitor is on the hotshoe or on a flexible arm. Hold the viewfinder in your hand and press the monitor in place, that way you can exercise more controlled pressure.

I did a quick tryout with my GH2 and the resolution and picture looks great, straight out of the box. Have to get used to the menu but that's to be expected when you don't RTFM... The feature set and options are manifold and there's 2 preset buttons for your favorite settings. scroll/push button, usb port, HDMI in and out, replaceable battery plates (for now you can only use Canon LP-E6 batteries), and headphone jack for monitoring audio.


I didn't get a signal out of the camera straight away: I was about to start sweating when I discovered that either the camera or the DP4 doesn't like it when the camera is turned on before the monitor is. After I turned the camera off and back on again, the picture showed up.
As expected, the package feels very professional and complete. From the design to the materials to the accessories, this EVF/monitor makes me feel I can really go to work with my DSLR's.

I will write more about how the DP4 performs in the field and -when I get back to Europe- how it works with my Canon 550D/T2i.

If there's anything in particular people would like to hear about, let me know.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mailbox: Super Takumar 50mm 1.4

The Super Takumar 50mm 1.4: at the wrong end of the camera

An item I bought on eBay and had sent to my father in the US many months ago: the Super Takumar 50mm f1.4 It's a beautiful lens and I plan to show you what it can do in the next weeks during my travels in the USA. I need a 50mm lens like I need another hole in my head but this one cuts so well with the Panasonic Lumix 20mm 1.7, I couldn't pass it up.
This lens is in pristine condition, everything smooth and clean. For around $90,- you can pick up a real nice one on eBay right away but there are cheaper ones to be had. This is a good investment: this lens will retain its value.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

SmallHD DP4 on the way

 I bit the bullet and ordered the SmallHD DP4 monitor/electronic viewfinder. I am really looking forward to using this device with my GH2 during my stay here in the States. Problem is, the DP4 ships with a Canon LP-E6 battery plate. Since I don't own a 5D Mark II or a 7D, I don't use these batteries. I asked SmallHD about an optional Sony NPF plate (I have a bunch of small NPF's for use with my Z96 led light.) but they don't have an alternative plate as of now. They wrote they are working at it but it doesn't seem to be a priority. They should have alternatives: how hard can it be to produce such a plate?
So I am looking at a charger and a few LP-E6's. There's a lot of really cheap deals: $20 for 2 batteries and a charger. Too good to be true? I'm gambling that they are cheap because the camera doesn't 'read' the battery info. But since I won't be using them on a camera, that's fine with me. I'll let you know how they fare. And I'll tell you all about my SmallHD DP4!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

GH2 airport timelapse

I love the activity in this timelapse, shot at Philadelphia airport on my Panasonic GH2. The window we were looking out at was the perfect frame. My Slik tripod was checked in so I placed the camera on the radiator on the wall. A very nice timelapse except for two frames that went nearly black and I have no idea why...
Since I don't have Quicktime 7 Pro installed on my Macbook Pro, I had to find an alternative to make quick 'n easy timelapses. Well, in no time I found Time Lapse Assembler, a completely free, very simple program that makes timelapsing a breeze! I love it. Who needs Quicktime 7..?

GH2 Airport Timelapse from Filmersblog on Vimeo.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mailbox: Cowboy Studio shoulder support

I completely forgot I ordered this thing some months ago and had it sent to my father in Florida, where I am right now. This is a cheap shoulder device that I had been reading some good stories about. Especially considering its $25 pricetag... (price has gone up by about $5-10) It's an all-plastic device that you can adjust so it will fit small operators as well as larger ones.
In the picture you see a small operator; a diminuative salesperson pretending to shoot video. I tried it on myself and it fit so snugly the shoulder support with camera hangs on my shoulder without the risk of sliding off.  Nice! I felt I could do nice, smooth pans with this combination.
The support feels strong yet lighweight and comes with a shoulder strap and carrying bag that in my opinion are completely useless. The carrying bag is so thin it does nothing to protect the shoulder support and the shoulder strap hangs in the way.  When a camera is mounted and you use the carrying straps, the whole rig hangs dangerously upside down. I don't have a clue what the idea was behind the shoulder straps- but thanks any way.
Because of the materials used I don't think this would work well with my Sony EX1-R, but if you're a DSLR-shooter looking for a cheap shoulder support, I doubt you'll find a better deal.