Letus Ultimate Prototype MK2 & Southend Film

I received a revised protoype Letus Ultimate from Hien last week with a few minor external changes, some text and painted black. It looks better obviously but I understand it will look very different when the final production model is released hopefully around the end of next month,

It stills has the same huge improvements over the Extreme, spinning glass, ability to stop all the way down and use fast shutter and the great back focus adjustment.

I tried it out doing some filming for a Boris Johnson documentary in London and at Southend in Essex on a bright sunny day, one of the only ones we will have this year in England! After all my recent globetrotting you don’t get much more English than Southend-on-sea! I have to admit I wasn’t on the best of form when I was out filming that day but I think I got some good stuff out of it…

One thing I tried and failed was to figure out a crude way to do a timelapse dolly. I tried rope, cable, wrapping it, walking slowly tugging it but nothing was smooth enough so I need to invest in slow geared system I think.

Craig Spenceley, the director of the Trench, happened to be in Southend whilst I was there so he helped out. Thanks Craig.

The short was filmed in 1080p and for the overcrank in 720p 60fps. The mega slow motion shot was completely done in post using the twixtor plug in from a normal speed shot. Grading was done as usual with Magic Bullet Looks and edited in FCP 6.03. The timelapse was done using the Mizar mount again shot at 1 frame every two seconds, shot at slow shutter 16. The image was cropped to 2:35 to 1 in the edit. Music is by Charles Trenet.

Lenses were the usual culprits with the addition of a new Sigma 135-400mm f4.5-5.6 zoom lens. You can see it in a picture below, it’s the long one! it really needs extra stabilisation but worked very well and was perfect for this shoot as well as causing no issues for the Ultimate like it would do for the Extreme.

My original idea for the short changed on the day, mainly to do with what I captured. There was some ugliness there, a fight broke out near where I was but I avoided that as I wanted to try and capture the true feeling of a Sunday on a British seaside resort. One which despite superficial changes has changed little since I was a kid.

See the film here.


  1. It’s the brilliant Wally Dolly and the tripod is the superb Miller DS20 with solo carbon fibre legs, it goes high and very low. Love it!

  2. Hy, i follow your shorts, great.
    My question: is any reason to shoot in 1080p and mixed up with sequences made in 720p ( when overcrank ), in this case, why don’t ya make the whole film in 720p? What is the final version:720p? Or is everithing upscaled to1080?

    Toni from Transilvania

  3. The final version 1080p. I always shooting highest quality whenever. I actually shot most in 1080p, I just used more 720p overcrank than 1080p in the final edit. Final Cut upscaled beautifully everything to 1080p.

  4. as a frequent lurker I just must say.. you are my hero. a true inspiration to us independent film makers. It seems as if you can write your own ticket with your skill and crafting… When do we see a full feature film… when does the hollywood sellout come….Looking forward to the day.

  5. no, the 1080 takes up a little more space, but not that much. It’s all do with the bit rate which is 35mbs. That is what takes up the space.

  6. Lets not forget that we’re talking 720p at 60 fps… and 1080p at 30 fps. 35 megabit either way.

    I didn’t know they still made twixtor!! I haven’t played with that plugin in years. Do they keep it current? Do you think it does a good job? I always found the interpolation to be a little to blurry for my taste. You can see the blur a little on those shots but I don’t know how much you tweaked them. I’m interested to know…

  7. it’s pretty good. i haven’t come across any other decent slow motion plug ins. Do you know of any?

    Magic Bullet I vary depends on the short. You are using the new looks yet?

  8. You might try going to a hobby shop and find out about getting a electric car moter and transmission that is geared real low and find out about attaching it to a leg and put the tire to the track.

  9. Awesome Philip, I love those time-lapses, beautiful! And I want a wally dolly now, man. Well at least I finally got my EX1, nice little grad gift.
    That letus ultimate is a ridiculously remarkable adaptor, and your images are superb. Always look forward to your work.
    Peace and God’s Blessings,
    Danny Hidalgo

  10. Philip,
    I’m curious if Letus is working on an adaptor designed specifically for the EX3 with its interchangeable lens. Have you heard anything? Love your films BTW!

  11. Not an adaptor, but a relay lens. All the Letus adaptors, extreme and ultimate are modular and will work on ANY camera with the right fitting

  12. Just discovered you and Bravo! I am very impressed with your work. Loved the Southend video. Looks great. Thanks for the info on the Letus. Is there any kind of follow focus for feature work for the EX1 or 3? I thought it strange to put in French music in an English beach, but it works. Keep up the equipment reviews and the great work.
    Chuck Braverman
    Santa Monica, California

  13. Hi Phil~

    While i don’t pretend to know anything about filimg not do i particlarly care, i LOVE your stuff because it actualy makes me feel something and reminds me of my youth growing up in the UK-so thank you for that. You capture the essence of people and places so well.

  14. Don’t know if you are still looking for a way to do slow smooth timelapse dolly shots, but I’ve got a suggestion (though it’s more suited to a controlled environment than out and about in public!)… if you tie a piece of string to the wally dolly and fasten the other end to the end of a cordless variable speed electric drill you can ‘reel your camera in’ very slowly at a constant rate by squeezing the trigger as gently as possible so that the drill-bit winds the string up extremely slowly. Before starting the shot, place the drill on the ground at the end of the dolly track so that the string is taught. If the drill is still too fast at its slowest setting, try almost flattening the battery before the shoot. The drill will slow to a crawl but remains useable for a few hours, retaining smooth motion. Of course, that depends on the quality of the drill (at least 15W drill recommended). To help keep the string tight, you may wish to add additional weight to the dolly carriage if necessary.

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