The Trench, Letus Extreme and EX1 with Letus EX1 fix

On Friday I shot a WW1 reconstruction for Craig Spencely of Blackbox AV ( . It’s a 7 minute or so short film for a museum in Northern Ireland for the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers , a division of the Army who were famous for being the first division to see action in WW1.

Craig had written a script and it was to be shot HD, in a docu drama way. He saw my work on my website with the Letus Extreme and wanted that look.

The shoot took place in Ipswich where some enthusiasts have built trenches on a piece of farmland and regularly recreate battles there.

We had 4 actors and I think 8 or 9 extras, and we needed it to look like there were a lot more. We had also had all sorts of problems. A major road the A14 was in view and rumbling constantly, electricity pylons everywhere, at least it wasn’t raining!

I used the Letus Extreme EX1 combo for all the dialogue and some other shots. A lot of it was shot handheld. My first time shooting with the Letus Extreme and EX1 handheld. I bought the Zacuto rig and it worked very well, You can see pictures below. The new Letus EX1 fix solves all the edge to edge sharpness issues. It’s now perfect as you will see.

For the running around stuff I shot on my second EX1 with 1/250 shutter in to give it that nice high speed shutter look. I tried my best to match the images with picture profiles, but the extreme warms the image up a fair bit and is obviously softer than the stock lens.

I used the cheap shoulder brace for the running around. It worked a treat, kept it the right height and pretty steady. I keep the Zacuto set up for the extreme on the tripod and handheld.

I know it is a luxury but having two ex1s made an enormous difference. Quick switching was possible, would have slowed us down a lot if we had to keep dismantling the extreme, a swing away would be a nice addition!

The sound also wasn’t great, as I mentioned the road noise was there, but  I think the sound man could have used personal mics on them for those…mind you we were in such a rush, we did the whole shoot in about 5 hours, including explosions and very few rehearsals.

I have cut together two minutes of footage for fun. This is not the end product, Craig is getting it scored, has a voice over artist and will put in loads of sound effects as well as clean the audio up!

Thanks again to Craig for giving me permission to post this footage. If you run a museum and want to move into the 21st century, his company does a pretty damn good job of it!

Graded using Magic Bullet looks. Best £200 I have ever spent!!

See the film here.


  1. Phil – a very sensitive treatment of the subject. Great shots and it good to see what you were working to achieve. A big thank you from me as I enjoyed tremendously the day, dare I say your best work yet!


  2. That was a choice Tobias. A mostly to hide things like pylons and the like. I am still playing with it and will have a newer edit done this week that I am happy with. Still doesn’t quite work for me!

  3. Nice job Philip. I really like the warmth that the Letus adds to the footage. The behind the scene photos are great to look at as well. Great story as well.

  4. Looks great Philip,
    Any hesitation to shoot all clean, or is that Letus necessary at least some of the time? I figure with 1/2″ sensors, opening up the iris and shooting from a bit more distance and zooming in, might be enough to get you Letus like DOF. Shooting without Letus is faster, no?

  5. Goodness…good stuff. Has a very similar look and level of quality to what Peter Jackson is shooting with the RED ONE at 4K. (Judging by the rendered Quick Time files)

  6. Like the new Grade! And in a new superwide format?! In the Letus clips there are small vertical vigneting on the sides? Are those added in post or something with EX1? Looks exactly like the ones I get from the Brevis with EX1… 🙂

  7. it’s part of the blockbuster preset in Magic Bullet looks that I tweaked to how i like it. The vignette is from that, not the extreme!

    I wanted 2.35:1 It’s my fav!

  8. Hey Phil, Nice work!!!
    Have you used the new ground glass on this shoot or is it the original gg from the Extreme? What f/stop range do you usually aim for in your shoots with the Extreme?

  9. no, the new GG has problems with the sky so just used the original GG.

    I used my 17-35mm Nikon f2.8 zoom a lot wide open. The talking heads was about f2-f2.8 using the zeiss macro 50mm. I often shoot wide open for static objects. Moving people in close up no chance!

  10. Philip,

    Once again great footage. The subject is the same as Peter Jackson’s clips for the RED camera, and (while the same resolution isn’t possible of course) you get the same kind of feel with your EX1 and Letus 35mm adapter, IMO.

    Thank you for I keep enjoying these clips as you keep em posted.


  11. I’m not technical, I can’t comment on all the equipment specifics, but I do know it looks brilliant and you have done a great job. Well done. My partnet was in the film and I look forward to him showing me the end product.

  12. Hello Philip

    I visite your site with very great interest. Your work is so revelant of the best we can do with digital video. Thnks a lot for sharing your experience. I have a question : what are your compression settings to obtain so perfect H264 compressed clips. I’ve seen that clips posted in your blog are 1500kb/s only and I can not achieve same quality with Compressor starting with full 1920×1080 25p ProRes HQ. Mine are blurry and pixellized…

  13. Salut Philippe,

    I don’t use compressor. I export from FCP using current settings then open the file in qucktime. I then export from quicktime as .mp4 1500kbs h264 700×400 (custom size). If I don’t use H264 I get horrible pixillation.

    Try that and let me know.


  14. Hey Phil, I have talked to you on DVXuser, well I have a war film coming up, and I was wondering what you used for squibs, and explosions, did you have a pyro professional out there for you? or did you just make your own rigs for thee explosions? this would be helpful. You going to oot any more SG stuff man? Im thinking you could probably et the new achro from Wayne and test if out for us… I would love yo se some SG EX1 footage.


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