First Anorexia film to be shot using Letus Extreme and EX1

I have been making a series of shorts for Five News and Sky about Anorexia Nervosa. They have been authored and have mostly featured one girl Ali Valenzuela. Today I shot part 6, which this time focuses on a woman who turned to cocaine so she could curb her appetite and lose a dress size and ended up addicted to it and Anorexic.

The first three I shot on the JVC HD201 and the Brevis adaptor. Parts 4 and 5 I used the Z1 and the Letus Extreme. Today I used my current dream combo of the Letus Extreme and the EX1.

I was really happy with the low light of this camera today. I shot in 1080p 25p and had the shutter off which makes it set at 1/25th. I shot mostly using my 50mm Zeiss Macro T2 and my Nikon 105mm F2 DC and a few shots using a Sigma 28mm F1.8.

It was incredibly challenging as we were in a rehab centre in Luton, not the best place in the world and the room we were given was pretty bland. In fact that was an understatement. It had 1 wall with windows on it. 3 other blank walls with a few posters and lots and lots of chairs. The other films I had nice locations to film in. This one I had just this room, for two interviews and any other shots.

I decided to make the most of what I had so I made it start. I used one light, a Rifa 55 softbox with eggcrate diffuser, a wally dolly so I could go wider or tighter without having to keep changing lenses and a Marshall monitor stuck onto the tripod using a Manfrotto magic arm.

Below are some pics of the set up…

I had one problem once I got set up. I noticed a speck of dirt on the GG that had appeared since I last used it. This concerned me as the last time this happened was after I shot “Piccadilly Furs” and when I pulled the Letus apart I broke it. So I decided to try and live with it. I wish I hadn’t. It looks awful on some of the shots, it’s going to cause me quite a few post problems. When I got home, I carefully removed four screws to access the ground glass, blew the dirt off, put it back together again with no problems. I wish I had done that earlier!

Here are some un graded screen grabs for you to see.

I am editing this on Monday, so you should be able to see the finished piece not long after. I think it is being broadcast on Wednesday.

Tomorrow if I get a couple of hours I will retest the Letus mini/ HV20 combo properly. Will post results here. Have a great weekend!

EDIT: You can see the finished short under Anorexia on my website. Shame about the bit of dirt in a couple of shots!

See the series here.

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9 comments

  1. Hi, Phil. Quick question to you… what did you do about sound at the rehab centre shoot? That must have been challenging as well.

    The grabs look nice and crisp.

    Thanks.

  2. Phil- just to echo your comments about a Letus cleaning .
    I had to really clean the Letus on both sides of the focus screen when it arrived, it had some dust on the screen which I checked by viewing the focus screen on the Letus with the lens off and rechecking the focus with the EX, here you can see just how clean the screen is without the Nikon lens interfering, this is how I set the focus to the screen with the EX1, without a lens on, and zoomed in on the Letus to achieve critical focus before “tape”down”. Whish there was more of a mechanical device for the tape to lock the focus on the Z1.

    Yesterday I was out in the cold, below freezing shooting with the EX1 and Letus. It is another animal outside trying to stop- down the amount of light, I found that stopping down the Nikon lens more than 3 F stops is a no-no as the grain of the ground glass is clearly present when the lens is stopped down too much. Unfortuntely I did not catch this outside in the bitter cold and direct sun, only when I returned and watched it on a 30″ monitor, did I see this. A bit dissipointed but great exsamples of what NOT to do. Looks like polarizers and ND filters are going to be on the shopping list. Even though I did use the EX1’s own HD filters to help in this situation, I still kept shutting down the Nikon’s F stop. Need a mechanical stop on the lens to keep from shutting down the lens, or to aid in NOT closing it. Old habits die hard.
    I did not not have any issues inside shooting with the lens wide open and the grain on the ground glass is not visible.

    Phil Questions:
    What have been your real world issues with F stops?
    How do you control light, ND filters, the cameras ND’s?
    What about the Letus battery, how often do you replace it?

    I enjoy the real world “Bloom Blog” looking forward to the next installment, keep up the great work!

    Steve

    Recieved a Zeiss lens and I find the Zeiss is such a nice lens build and smoother than the Nikon. Which they had a greater selection on the Wide and tele.

  3. Phil- looks like perhaps the cold was a factor, inside this am not getting the Letus focus screen even stopped down F11, with same batts and even a fresh pair. I wonder if the cold affected the batts, motor, and or the vibration posts of the Letus due to the cold. It was 10 degress F here when I was out shooting.

  4. Hi Steve

    How do you find focusing on the gg. Are you able to get sharp all the way across the horizontal? I find it hard to get both the mdidle and left and right to be in harmony. What is your focus locked at?

    It’s been so dark in London that I have had no problems with bright light. When I do I use a Matte box and a variety of nds.

    I change my Letus Batteries every other shoot just to be on the safe side!

  5. Phil- yes focus all the way across seems to be an issue. Best focus seems to be where the square box is above the 1.5M with the box just over the 1 favoring the left extension of the top of the 1.

    The zoom is different for each type of lens, on the Zeiss 50 macro I find Z 78 is best to get rid of fall off. The image is not centered and for me it favors the right side. I use the histogram to get best zoom- falloff setting.

    I made a little movie looking though the lens showing how I achieve critical focus as best as possible and here you will see probally the same issue you are experience. Will try to get it posted in a few days.

    Not sure if this is a Letus screen mounting issue, squareness, or just EX1 issue with a Letus. More testing would be in order to determine if perfect focus can be achieved across the film plane.
    Neverless, baring the technical issues, its all about the content and images we make to tell a story, that is the ultimate test of any tools we use, be it a camera or hammer to create.

  6. Hey Philip
    Great work. I am about to buy the EX1/Extreme set up. I saw you using dolly to move the camera for CU/MS. I have been thinking the Nikon Zoom 17-35mm T2.8. Have you ever test this zoom or it is just too wide? Thanks
    Omkar

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