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by Matthew Jeppsen & Kendal Miller

Matt Jeppsen is a freelance cinematographer, and Kendal Miller is a director at Cultivate Studios. They often collaborate on film & video projects, and you'll find related musings here....

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Defining Visual Language for a Travel Documentary

Cinematography case study on The Flying Dutchmen

By Matthew Jeppsen | March 01, 2015

Last August I had the opportunity to DP a 3-week documentary feature film called The Flying Dutchmen. In this article I want to talk about our visual language choices, and how those choices drove the gear and tools used to accomplish the look of the film. You may also be interested in a podcast discussion on how we used the DJI Ronin on this project (linked below).

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Top 20 Awards That Accurately Depict Filmmaking

Oscar Awards That Filmmakers Deserve

By Matthew Jeppsen | February 22, 2015

Today marks the 87th Academy Awards, where filmmakers are honored by peers for their finished work. Which got my colleague Kendal Miller thinking...last night he tweeted "What are your ideas for Oscar categories that more accurately depict the actual filmmaking process?" Here are the top twenty picks from the #RealWorldOscars hashtag.

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Flex Light Review and Photometrics

A comparison test with Westcott's flexible LED panel

By Matthew Jeppsen | February 17, 2015

Recently I had the pleasure of working on a project with Jem Schofield. Jem has a gear obsession that borders on a medical condition, and I was delighted to see that he brought along a set of Westcott Flex lights.

Working with the Flex light, I was surprised at their relatively powerful output and clean color performance…color accuracy and output power are often weak points for LED lighting fixtures, and these new lights didn't seem to suffer from those issues. I'm always on the lookout for tools that are lighter and smaller for travel documentary and interview work, so I decided to do some lighting tests to see if they were powerful enough.

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Hands-on with the Panasonic Varicam S35

Two cinematographers take a quick look at the new 4K Varicam

By Matthew Jeppsen | February 09, 2015

A few years ago, Panasonic showed early prototypes of what would become the 4K Varicam, their S35 digital cinema camera. That model is starting to trickle out into the wild, and DP Noel Evans has shared his findings after using the camera on a project. Watch below. 

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Gratical HD EVF Review

Real-world shooting with Zacuto's powerful new viewfinder

By Matthew Jeppsen | February 07, 2015

The following is my detailed review of a pre-production Zacuto Gratical HD EVF unit. The production version of Gratical HD began shipping this month to pre-order customers.

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How to Setup a C-Stand

C Stand Basics with DP Shane Hurlbut

By Matthew Jeppsen | February 06, 2015

One of the most basic but important things you must know on set is how to configure and use a c-stand. This c stand tutorial from cinematographer Shane Hurlbut will show you the basics of these essential grip & light stands, from safety to ettiquete. And Shane's diffusion... Read More


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On Set Lighting Workshop in Burbank

2 Day Workshop on Lighting & Grip - Feb 7 & 8th

By Matthew Jeppsen | January 24, 2015

Gaffer Craig Burns is offering an unique lighting and grip business workshop in Burbank on Feb 7-8, 2015. Burnie seems like a no-nonsense type of guy, and I get the sense that his teaching style will be practical and straightforward. 

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Simple DIY bounce boards

How to make a foam board reflector set for under $20

By Matthew Jeppsen | January 19, 2015

It seems like every grip truck has a few beadboard / foam bounce boards in the package, they are lightweight and very useful in a variety of lighting scenarios. I recently needed a few of these in various sizes for small jobs, and decided to make my own. For about $20 in materials, I was able to build a set ranging in size from 24x36 to 42x42. Read on for details and example framegrabs from these foam reflectors in use.

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Odyssey 7Q and 7Q+ get expanded 4K ProRes recording options

4K DCI ProRes recording from RAW sources

By Matthew Jeppsen | January 18, 2015


The Convergent Design Odyssey series of monitors and recorders has been a work in development since they first shipped in the fall of 2013. Since then, they have been rolling out regular firmware updates to fully enable the capabilities of the monitor/recorder.

Now we sit a little over a year later, and the latest 4.10.100 firmware update (released on Dec 19th) has enabled 4K RAW to Prores HQ recording from Canon C500, Sony FS700, and Sony FS7 cameras. In October of 2014, the 3.10.100 update had previously enabled FS700 4K RAW to UHD Apple ProRes recording, as well as non-RAW 4K sources to both UHD and 4K DCI. But with the December update, that support has now been extended to include UHD and 4K DCI from C500, FS700, and FS7 RAW sources, at up to 30 fps.

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Cinematography of Inglourious Basterds

Analyzing the work of Robert Richardson

By Matthew Jeppsen | January 12, 2015

A week or so ago I posted a cinematography breakdown of Roger Deakins work in Prisoners. This week I'm sharing another one of Matt Scott's breakdowns, this one from the Tarantino film Inglourious Basterds.

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Zacuto Gratical HD pre-orders get a $700 price drop

New pricing for pre-orders, now $900 off retail

By Matthew Jeppsen | January 06, 2015

Zacuto and their resellers have dropped the price on pre-orders for the Gratical HD EVF. Pre-orders for this new electronic viewfinder were previously listed at $3600, and as of today listed at $2900. This price drop is retroactively available to anyone who has already pre-ordered, they will simply need to contact their reseller to confirm the new price. 

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The Cinematography of Prisoners

Analyzing Deakins masterful frames

By Matthew Jeppsen | January 01, 2015

Prisoners was a tense, dramatic movie. I remember being almost exhausted after watching the film for the first time. But as I mulled it over in the following days, I was struck by how subtly powerful the cinematography was. Never did it call attention to itself, but almost every frame was polished and cleanly executed. Roger Deakins is a master at naturalistic lighting, and his skill really shows in this film. 

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Areca 8050 Thunderbolt RAID Review

How I built a 24TB RAID6 for under $2800

By Matthew Jeppsen | December 21, 2014

About six months ago, I had a 20 Terabyte problem. I had a shelf of external hard drives of all shapes, sizes, and interfaces, and weak, infrequent backup system. It was time to consolidate my media and fix this issue. After much research, I invested in a Areca Thunderbolt RAID and a reliable backup solution. Here are my adventures in building this complete system.

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Ten Commandments of Making

Sage advice from maker Adam Savage

By Matthew Jeppsen | December 15, 2014

At the 2014 Maker Faire, mythbuster and creative Adam Savage spent some time talking about what it takes to be a Maker. He kicked off his talk by defining what he calls his Ten Commandments of Making. Maker Faire tends to have a craftsperson appeal, but what struck me was how well Adam's ten principles translated to the film & video industry. Here are Adam's Ten Commandments, paraphrased and expanded for creatives in production.

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Stocking Stuffers for Shooters and Cinematographers

Production gifts that are useful

By Matthew Jeppsen | December 09, 2014

With Christmas fast approaching, here are ten stocking stuffer gift ideas for the filmmaker. These are all tools I own, love, or use on a daily basis. 

1. Bongo Ties

$6 at Amazon

With a thousand uses for these handy rubber band ties, I try to... Read More


A Little Inspiration

Websites for mood boards, shorts, and creative inspiration.

By Kendal Miller | May 09, 2014

Let's face it, we don't always feel creative. I'm always on the look out for great sources of inspiration. Sometimes l need a little fuel in my creativity tank, and other times I'm looking for ways to visually represent my ideas to team members and clients. Here are a couple of... Read More


Daily Inspiration - NOMOS Glashuette

Daily Inspiration - NOMOS Glashuette

A simple, captivating piece on Swiss watchmaking

By Matthew Jeppsen | May 04, 2014

Sometimes you have to whisper to get someone's attention. I was struck by the clean simplicity of this short film about the process of making a NOMOS Glashütte Swiss timepiece. There are no flashy camera moves, no stirring emotional score. Just understated, clean compositions that get out of the way and let the content shine through. And the audio capture & sound design is perfect. Watch below.

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Using Google Earth and Helios For Location Scouting

Using Google Earth and Helios For Location Scouting

By Kendal Miller | May 01, 2014

It has been said that 90% of good cinematography is pointing the camera at something that looks good, and for me a large part of that equation means shooting the right time of day for the right location. I have used Helios for a while to help determine when and where I should be for the best light, but on a recent project I was able to push this technology to a whole new level. Cultivate Studios recently received a call from a client. They wanted to be shooting on location in Turkey in ten days and I had no budget for a scout to work remotely and I had never been to the country. It was time to do some homework.

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Working in the field with the Editshare Field 2

A multi-month case study of the Field 2 mobile system

By Matthew Jeppsen | February 03, 2014

Last fall I produced a large video project for a large youth summer camp based in the Ozarks. This organization offers an intense multi-week program for kids of all ages. My Arkansas video production company was hired to shoot and edit a number of video assets to be used in the camp's marketing efforts for the following season. Thanks to an existing relationship with Editshare (they have assisted FreshDV's NAB coverage in the past), I had the opportunity to work with a portable Editshare Field 2 unit throughout both production and post on this project. I wanted to talk about how the Field 2 fit into our workflow in this case-study.

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KinoGrip Wooden Camera Grips

Pimp Your Rig with something Comfortable and Custom

By Matthew Jeppsen | January 28, 2014

Wood handgrips have come back in to vogue lately. There's something lovely about a warm wooden grip when operating a handheld camera. It feels amazing, and it looks damn fine. There are several folks making wood grips these days, a lot of designs are similar to the look of the classic Aaton wooden grip. One company that has sprung up recently is KinoGrip, and they now offer a wide variety of custom trigger and non-triggered grips that hearken back to the Aaton spirit, but with an updated shape. I've been shooting with a KinoGrip for a while now, and love it. Read on for some photos and my thoughts...

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