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Stunning Good Looks

by Art Adams

Cinematographer Art Adams has worked in the film industry for 25 years. He shoots spots as well as corporate marketing, visual effects, web and interactive/mobile projects. He also consults for a variety of motion picture equipment vendors in the areas of usability and interface design, equipment training, and scientific comparative testing of products. Art likes to write articles that explore the hidden side of the tools and techniques many take for granted. He's been published in HD Video Pro, American Cinematographer, Australian Cinematogra...

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Alexa ISO Settings: The Least You Need to Know

Changing an HD camera's ISO has a greater impact on an image than simply affecting exposure. Learn what's really happening... and take advantage of it!

By Art Adams | October 08, 2010

My previous Arri Alexa article showed you how the camera's dynamic range responds to different ISO settings. In this shorter article I'll show you why that's useful and practical information. Read More


Arri Alexa’s Dynamic Range: It’s All in How You Use It

Arri Alexa’s Dynamic Range: It’s All in How You Use It

Always push exposure to the limits. But learn where the limits are first!

By Art Adams | September 28, 2010

Knowing that the Arri Alexa has 15 or so stops of dynamic range is nice, but it's hardly useful information unless you know how those stops are arranged at different ISO settings. Fortunately I've done the hard work for you. Read More


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The Best of Stunning Good Looks

A directory of my best articles, sorted by topic.

By Art Adams | August 30, 2010

This entry is a guide to my best articles, sorted by topic. Enjoy! Read More


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Canon 5D: How much dynamic range does it have, really?

The DSC 102db chart doesn't lie: This is what it tells us about how the 5D sees the world.

By Art Adams | August 30, 2010

The Canon 5D does a remarkable job of making HD images, considering that it was originally never intended to do so. So how much dynamic range can it really capture? Thanks to the DSC 102db (17-stop) latitude chart, we now have an objective answer. Read More


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My Love Affair with Alexa

When the camera sees more than my light meter does, it's time to acknowledge that the game has truly changed.

By Art Adams | August 20, 2010

My dream HD camera records footage with log-encoded gamma to ProRes for a fast, easy and accessible post workflow and cost-effective color grading. It has the simplest control interface ever. It sees in the dark. And it's built by a company whose gear I learned to trust early in my career when I started out as a camera assistant. The company is ARRI, and the camera is Alexa. Read More


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Next Stop: The Last Stop! RED MX Latitude Tests

An 18-stop test chart, a tunnel made of showcard and a dozen yards of black plastic ground cover later, we have a pretty good idea of the RED MX's exposure latitude.

By Art Adams | July 31, 2010

When DSC Labs offered to send me a 102db (translation: 18-stop) exposure latitude chart, I just couldn't bring myself to say no. And, naturally, the first camera I wanted to test was the RED ONE MX. How much better is the new sensor? Let's take a look... Read More


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IR Cheat Sheet, Updated to Version 2

Get the right filter for the right camera!

By Art Adams | July 28, 2010

At long last, an update to my fabled IR Filter Cheat Sheet. Not every camera responds the same way to IR; make sure you have the right filter for the right job. Read More


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Arri Alexa and Far Red: A Problem That’s Already Been Solved

Most cameras have issues with far red or infrared. There are lots of filters to fix that, but you have to use the right one for the right camera. Read on to see what works with Alexa.

By Art Adams | July 28, 2010

Last night I had the chance to--finally!--touch an Arri Alexa at Chater Camera's Alexa preview party. And, being a curious sort of fellow, I decided to run some impromptu tests. IR tests are the easiest to do so I quickly did some--and in the process learned some interesting things about Alexa. Read More


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RED MX IR Tests: The New Sensor is Similar to the Old Sensor

Don't throw your IR filters away yet. You're gonna need them.

By Art Adams | July 23, 2010

RED says that their new sensor is more resistant to IR contamination than their original sensor. This test shows that, while there may be an improvement, IR is still an issue. Fortunately all the usual IR filter solutions work just fine. Read More


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Step into the Matrix: What I Learned from Examining RED’s Build 30 Color Science

RED says the MX sensor uses the same colorimetry as their old M sensor. Others say the improvements are so dramatic that this can't be. A search for the truth led me deep into the heart of The Matrix...

By Art Adams | July 21, 2010

Comparing the RED ONE "M" and the RED ONE "MX" in Adam Wilt's office.

The RED ONE MX is finally here, and it looks great--better than it should, considering that RED says that it hasn't changed the colorimetry of its sensors, only its sensitivity and noise levels. How could software alone make such a huge difference? I found out... the hard way. Read More


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Lighting Against The Wind: The Making of a Mime Music Video

If your first response to a low-budget music video contest is to cast one actress in three different parts, all of whom appear onscreen at the same time and interact with each other, then this article is for you.

By Art Adams | June 18, 2010

In the last two years I've often described myself as a "reel-building whore." If I'm asked to do a low-budget and "reel worthy" freebie by a trusted director/collaborator I jump at the challenge. When director Ian McCamey asked me to shoot a freebie music video with three interactive mimes who were all played by the same actress, I couldn't say no. Read More


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A Cine Gear Find: TechScout Touch

Lighting orders are a touch screen away with this great productivity app for DPs.

By Art Adams | June 10, 2010

It was in the LightGear booth at Cine Gear that I first saw TechScout Touch. "You can create your lighting order using this one iPhone app," said the sales rep, "and send the order straight to the rental house.""That's great," I said, "but I don't live in LA, and the odds are pretty slim that I'm going to use your rental house for a Northern California job.""No, you don't get it," she said. "This app simply creates an email containing an equipment list. You can send it to any rental house you want, or your gaffer... whoever!"That's when she had my undivided attention. Read More


GearNex: The Next Generation of Gear Head

GearNex: The Next Generation of Gear Head

A small start-up makes another smooth move by improving an already excellent product

By Art Adams | June 09, 2010

GearNex co-owner Bret Allen, S.O.C. shows off the latest generation of his award-winning gear head at Cine Gear 2010.

Sacramento start-up GearNex surprised the industry last year by bringing a small, affordable and very functional gear head to market. It was mostly worth the asking price at the time. Now the price has gone up-and it's a better deal than ever. Read More


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VFX Tell the Story in California State Fair Spots

A RED ONE, a barn, seven kids, a guy in a yellow bear costume, the setting sun, an animated dinosaur and dozens of visual effects elements combine to create dazzling imagery on a moderate budget.

By Art Adams | June 01, 2010

A bit of prior planning, some clever visual effects and a new RED software build help a talented production team get maximum bang for minimum bucks. Read More


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Everyone Looks Sexy at 1000fps

I recently shot high speed tests on the RED and Phantom cameras. Come see which one makes me look most like a bionic dancer.

By Art Adams | April 01, 2010

One of my favorite clients recently pitched a project that requires shooting high-speed footage at 1000fps. To help them sell the concept I shot some tests comparing the RED ONE at 120 and 100fps to the Phantom HD Gold at 1000fps. Read More


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The Tiger Lillies Finally Set Sail

The Tiger Lillies video you read about on my blog is finally here. And it's a mind-blower.

By Art Adams | March 26, 2010

Back in November 2009 I spent three days with director Mark Holthusen, producer Jason Santos, camera assistant Adam Wilt and a cast of dozens on the Meets the Eye stage in San Carlos, CA. There we set sail with the Tiger Lillies for their interpretation of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," and then we waited months for Mark to work his pictorial magic. He didn't let us down. Here it is: Read More


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Random Tips from a Professional Camera Operator

Hopefully useful advice to smooth and finesse your moves and tune your viewfinder eye

By Art Adams | February 26, 2010

Teaching the craft of camera operating is extremely difficult to do well, so I'm going to do it half-assed and give you some random tips that may help you along in your career. Read More


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Two New Sharp-Looking Charts from DSC Labs

Focus on the important things with the Fiddlehead and CineZone charts

By Art Adams | February 25, 2010

The first time I used a DSC Chart for color analysis I was completely blown away by the thought and cleverness that went into designing the Chroma Du Monde. Now they've done it again, but this time for focus. Read More


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The Making of an Epic Media Project

A RED ONE, a small but agile crew, and a 2k 60'-wide screening in an Omnimax theater. This, truly, is a modern day epic.

By Art Adams | February 11, 2010

Rambus is a company of big ideas, and they wanted their 20th anniversary celebration to include a theatrical production that accurately reflected who they are and where they came from. The resulting short film--shown in an Omnimax dome at the San Jose Tech Museum--moved Rambus founders and employees to tears. Read More


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Low-Budget PSA’s, Shot on RED, Prove that Budget is Not a Barrier to Excellence

Fast, cheap and good--normally you can pick any two. For these PSA's we got all three.

By Art Adams | January 20, 2010

"Dad has a barn and mom can sew--let's put on a show!" Production budgets aren't what they used to be, but that doesn't excuse sloppiness. There's almost always a way to do good work as long as your creativity extends beyond lighting and framing into the realm of "making do." Read More