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#1 CJ Films

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Posted 11 November 2005 - 01:20 AM

I want to do the best possible film (digital video) and wanted to get a few questions answered.

The one I have now is: What is a matte box and the uses?

Thanks.
CJ
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#2 Tim J Durham

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Posted 11 November 2005 - 01:38 AM

I want to do the best possible film (digital video) and wanted to get a few questions answered.

The one I have now is: What is a matte box and the uses?

Thanks.
CJ

1) As a filter holder. It is the best way to go if you swap out many (or a few) different filters on a shoot.

2) As a lens shade. Keeping stray light out of your lens is very important. The screw mount lens shades that come with your lens are inadequate at best.

3) As a laundry rack. If your camera is gathering dust, why not set it up on the tripod and put it to use? With the mattebox on there, you can hang quite a few more clean shirts.
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#3 Simon Wyndham

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Posted 11 November 2005 - 04:24 AM

Also pretty good for keeping rain off the lens!
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#4 Dimitrios Koukas

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Posted 11 November 2005 - 06:55 AM

Also pretty good for keeping rain off the lens!

It depends of the wind direction! :)
Matte boxes are good cause some have (if not all) rotating filter holders that you can use for pola's or graduate filters.
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#5 Jay Gladwell

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Posted 11 November 2005 - 08:41 AM

Don't be fooled. The biggest reason most people use matte boxes is because they think it looks "cool." Using a matte box will not make your movie any better. By the same toekn, not using a matte box will not deminish the quality of your movie.

Matte boxes are expensive, as are the filters that fit inside them. Save your money. Figure out which filters you'll really need and buy or rent the ones that fit on your camera.
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#6 Tim J Durham

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Posted 11 November 2005 - 10:25 AM

Don't be fooled. The biggest reason most people use matte boxes is because they think it looks "cool." Using a matte box will not make your movie any better. By the same toekn, not using a matte box will not deminish the quality of your movie.

Total BS. Sorry. It's the difference between hiring the neighborhood kid to paint your house or hiring a master craftsman who pays strict attention to the fine details. One would try to paint the entire house with a $2.00 roller from Home Depot while the other would employ a dozen different $30.00 brushes depending on the circumstance.

Furthermore, you cannot discount the impact on the client of appearing to take the finer details into account by having and using tools that allow you to control those details, even when, in some cases it may not be warranted. But having and using a matte box is always better than not having/using one.

You can choose to remove it when necessary but if you don't have it when you need it, where are you?
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#7 Matt Irwin

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Posted 11 November 2005 - 12:07 PM

Total BS. Sorry. It's the difference between hiring the neighborhood kid to paint your house or hiring a master craftsman who pays strict attention to the fine details. One would try to paint the entire house with a $2.00 roller from Home Depot while the other would employ a dozen different $30.00 brushes depending on the circumstance.

Furthermore, you cannot discount the impact on the client of appearing to take the finer details into account by having and using tools that allow you to control those details, even when, in some cases it may not be warranted. But having and using a matte box is always better than not having/using one.

You can choose to remove it when necessary but if you don't have it when you need it, where are you?


Dead on, Tim. I can't even begin to count the times I've needed a matte box and was extremely glad to have one. The fact that a matte box "looks cool" is a bi-product.
Matte boxes are a worth while investment because, unlike cameras, they don't become outdated. Not all of them are expensive-- I've seen both a bellows- and rigid-style matte box/rods system from Cavision for around US$400. Not bad when compared to $1200+ that you pay for Chroziels and higher brands.
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#8 Jay Gladwell

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Posted 11 November 2005 - 05:44 PM

If anyone is slinging BS, it's you two.

If a person has to ask how to use a matte box then they don't need one. The vast major of people making "digital movies" are people who have never operated a camera, directed an actor, or lit a set. These people DO NOT "need" a matte box, especially on camcorders.

Professional users under professional conditions is a whole other story!
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#9 Simon Wyndham

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Posted 11 November 2005 - 06:50 PM

Absolutely.

Aside from filters, you'd be amazed just how much glare is there without the mattebox flags. The anti-glare coating on the lens can only do so much. Keep the lens in the shade, get more saturated colours. Although again, this isn't just a case of placing the flags in one position and then leaving them there. They should be adjusted according to each shot, focal length etc.

Then you have the ability to stack filters with zero vignetting.

Certainly a mattebox does make the camera look cool. But a person who doesn't know how to use one to the best effect wont look cool themselves.
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#10 Tim J Durham

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Posted 11 November 2005 - 08:49 PM

If anyone is slinging BS, it's you two.

If a person has to ask how to use a matte box then they don't need one. The vast major of people making "digital movies" are people who have never operated a camera, directed an actor, or lit a set. These people DO NOT "need" a matte box, especially on camcorders.

Professional users under professional conditions is a whole other story!

Huh?

Here's what the original poster said:


I want to do the best possible film
(digital video) and wanted to get a few questions answered.

The one I have now is: What is a matte box and the uses?

It takes about an hour to master a simple two-stage matte box. And the vast majority of those people making "digital movies" are not likely to get hired or funded by anyone to make films or anything else. He asked what it was for and I answered him. YOU said they were only for looking cool and I said that was BS. Which it is. Wander on to any film set or TV drama set and see if you can find a camera without a matte box nearby. Then get back to me.
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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 November 2005 - 09:06 PM

A sunshade or mattebox is as basic a necessary camera accessory as a tripod (which one could do without as well, of course.) The only reason NOT to shade the front of the lens is for an artistic effect (need more flares) or some unusual space restraints (or because you're using a fish-eye lens...)

The only reason why a mattebox is preferable to a sunshade clamped over screw-on filters is the speed and ease of changing filters during a shoot, plus the greater ease of stacking multiple filters.

Sure, I'm sure some beginners feel that a big mattebox makes their little consumer DV camera look cool and more professional, but I'm not sure that negates the true value of a mattebox in any way.

When I was in film school, you could sort of separate people by whether they were smart enough to remember to check out a sunshade / mattebox and some filters with their camera package.

But then, some people in my film school could not even remember to check out a lens to go on the camera...

For a beginner, I don't really recommend blowing a lot of money on an expensive mattebox. There are some cheaper ones out there -- Cokin makes a pretty cheap & simple plastic one that holds their plastic filters, for example. But anyone who is serious about learning to shoot is going to start to need to use some filters, and they are going to want to shade the lens.
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#12 Jay Gladwell

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Posted 12 November 2005 - 06:34 AM

YOU said they were only for looking cool and I said that was BS.


First of all, you miss quoted me, so don't pull that kind of crap!

What I said was "most" and I stand by that. Most beginners (the vast majority of those who ask such questions) run out and buy a great deal of unnecessary equipment because they think it looks cool, when in fact it will not have any immediate impact upon their film. Their story sucks, their actors can't act, they know nothing about lighting, their compostions in the frame are none existent, they can't edit, the sound is horrible, and on and on and on, but they've got $2,000 dollars or more tied in a matte box and filters. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

I never said do not use any device to shade the lens. I never said do not use filters. I said there are cheaper ways for beginners to go about it. And that's a fact!

Read what David said. At least he's willing to honest (frank) with these people.
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#13 Tim J Durham

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Posted 12 November 2005 - 09:04 AM

First of all, you miss quoted me, so don't pull that kind of crap!

What I said was "most" and I stand by that. Most beginners (the vast majority of those who ask such questions) run out and buy a great deal of unnecessary equipment because they think it looks cool, when in fact it will not have any immediate impact upon their film. Their story sucks, their actors can't act, they know nothing about lighting, their compostions in the frame are none existent, they can't edit, the sound is horrible, and on and on and on, but they've got $2,000 dollars or more tied in a matte box and filters. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

I never said do not use any device to shade the lens. I never said do not use filters. I said there are cheaper ways for beginners to go about it. And that's a fact!

Read what David said. At least he's willing to honest (frank) with these people.


What David wrote hardly supports your point of view which is:


"Don't be fooled. The biggest reason most people use matte boxes is because they think it looks "cool." Using a matte box will not make your movie any better. By the same toekn, not using a matte box will not deminish the quality of your movie.


Matte boxes are expensive, as are the filters that fit inside them. Save your money. Figure out which filters you'll really need and buy or rent the ones that fit on your camera.


Here's the way I quoted you earlier:

YOU said they were only for looking cool...


It's not a verbatim quote, true. If it doesn't represent the spirit of your actual quote above, I apologize. That doesn't, however, make what you said any less wrong.

Matte boxes are expensive, no doubt about that. Renting them is not. If you want to be taken seriously as a DP, you have to use them. There's no getting around that fact.

If Vittorio Storaro showed up on the first day of production and announced that he didn't want to use a matte box or filters for the entire production, that would be a very hot topic of discussion both in front of him AND behind his back. It's one of those tools that's a given.

Now, that's enough said on the topic. Atleast from me.
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#14 Stephen Williams

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Posted 12 November 2005 - 01:49 PM

If a person has to ask how to use a matte box then they don't need one.


Hi,

The same could be said of anybody asking how to do anything.
I think a matt box is useful about 90% of the time, but is essential 50% of the time. Don't underestimate how important it is.

Stephen
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#15 Robert Hughes

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Posted 12 November 2005 - 05:32 PM

Here's a slight variation on the issue:

I don't have the money to blow on a commercial matte box, yet want to shade the lens. Is it worth my while
to build one? They look pretty simple to make.
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#16 G. Stephen Bruno

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Posted 12 November 2005 - 05:36 PM

Stupid Question....

If a Student filmmaker (ME) understands the need for a matte box and doesnt care "how cool it looks", but rather, "how well it works", could they (ME) build there own?

-thanks
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#17 Jonathan Spear

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Posted 12 November 2005 - 06:08 PM

""If a Student filmmaker (ME) understands the need for a matte box and doesnt care "how cool it looks", but rather, "how well it works", could they (ME) build there own?""

I built a "matte box" for my 35mm stills camera using one of those cheap Cokin filter holders. I cut out four cardboard panels, glued them on to popsicle sticks and, using embarresing amounts of tape <_< , somehow managed to piece it all together.

I still use it from time to time.

:D

If it:

1. holds filters
2. serves as a lens shade

It's a @#$% matte box.
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#18 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 November 2005 - 09:51 PM

Most matteboxes used back in the studio era of Hollywood were built in machine shops, sometimes by DP's with some free time.

The only precaution is, if you are using expensive glass filters, that the thing not fall apart or cause you to drop the filter as you pull it out or push it in.
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#19 Chris Keth

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 12:18 AM

Sure you can. It's not a difficult thing to build, really. Just, as David warns, be sure it stays put and holds filters tight.


All you need to do is make a plate that 1. will go on a standard tripod head. 2. Will hold the camera of your choice on the top side. and 3. hold rods that will hold the mattebox.

Then the mattebox only really has a couple requirements. 1. should go on the rods so it can slide further from or closer to the camera body, to accomodate different lenses. 2. It should really be able to hold your choice of filters. This can be tricky since the filter stages need to be parallel. If they're not, strange reflections can result.

Maybe you can find a friend with some machine shop experience. Design everything out in advance and it shouldn't be too tough.
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#20 G. Stephen Bruno

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 12:49 AM

Thanks guys, I will look into that. sounds like yet another fun project.

Currently i am working at a alluminum diecast plant here in Arkansas. we make mostly bbq grills.
....If i could only stop production, and pitch a mattebox design to my forman .... <_<
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