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How To Shoot Razor Sharp Super 8: Use Deductive Reasoning Rather Than Nostalgia -- A Newbie Primer


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#1 santo

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 04:55 PM

A post for newbies, I guess.

How do you shoot super 8 to get really sharp images? You have to use really good lenses. Modern lenses preferably if you're using a zoom -- 1990's to present day. Minimum, the best developed at the time of super 8 camera manufacture. Prime lenses have been really terrific since the mid 1950's. They got a little better with the early 1970's multi-coating technology that Pentax (Asahi) and Zeiss purchased from the California tech firm who created the technology for NASA space capsule windows, and incorporated into their SMC and T* coating respectively, then leased to the other camera manufacturers.

The best lenses cost the most when it comes to zooms from the 1970's. If that's what you're most interested in. The best lenses ever made for super 8 zooms include the Angenieux 6-80mm f1,2 and the Schneider 6-66 f1,8. The former NASA project developed lens appeared in C-mount on the Beaulieus as did the latter, but the latter also was redeveloped to ridiculously high criteria with the addition of extra corrective elements and coating by Leica for the legendary Leicina Special.

It is a matter of fact that prime lenses will give you at least 50% more resolving power than the old zooms of the 1970's do -- all the difference in the world with Plus-X and the modern Vision negative stocks which resolve far beyond the capabilities of the traditional mega-zoom home movie camera -- and you'll enjoy a good 20% advantage over modern zooms with a good prime even now. Excellent classic C-mount primes for super 8 include Switar, the Angenieux 5.9mm, the Kinoptik wide, and the Century wide c-mounts that come up on ebay from time to time. Even more impressive include C-mount modern primes from Schneider and Dokter Company (Tevidon) http://cgi.ebay.com/...m=7568822564 and, for a bargain, new Fujinon. There are others.

For M bayonet mount, the legendary Leicina Special, the M camera will soon be digital with a slightly smaller than 35mm full frame sensor. Lenses are all moving into Super 8 friendly range. Expensive, but these are the best photography lenses in any format that money can buy. Next to super8 1970's Japanacamera zooms, they are virtually alien technology. At least 5 times the resolving power. Modern motion picture film resolves at nearly 3 times beyond the ability of the old 1970's Japanese home movie camera zoom lens. So proper lenses are absolutely vital if you're shooting for HD transfer, as Vision2 100t will fall into a range just under HD, but far above standard definition when shot under optimum conditions. Zeiss Ikon primes in M mount, derived from the latest Zeiss 35mm motion picture Master Prime lenses, are claimed in Zeiss tests to resolve 400 lp/mm with Gigabit film, so the sharpest motion picture film ever made, the superb Vision2 100t, will be no problem with the Zeiss Ikon primes for M mount. Nor should it be a problem with the Leica M mounts, either, as they test out far above the limits of the stock, too.

Lastly, if you go the Beaulieu route, and there is no reason not to, it is required that you get your C-mount lenses adjusted to the body of the camera and that the camera be serviced to work 100% if it has not been done so already. Don't listen to fools who use 30 year old cameras and swear they'll never need a few drops of oil or grease or maybe an adjustment or two. Do you hop in a 30 year old car that never had an oil change and expect it to race across the USA in perfect form? You might hit that one in a thousand that does, but it's stupid not to change the oil yourself if you can or bring it into a drive in Mr Lube or whatever, isn't it?
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#2 steve hyde

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 08:04 PM

...well, I'm still waiting for solid empirical evidence that prime lenses offer "50% more resolving power." Santo, I took your advice and went to the optomitrist. I was shattered to discover Super 8 shot with a prime lens looks the same as Super 8 shot with a good zoom lens - even with new glasses ;) In this case I think an inductive approach might be more appropriate than a deductive one.

Now - seriously, I really do want to see some more of your Leicina tests. I finally got my super clean and collimation checked - thanks for that bit of advice - Angenieux 5.9 c-mount prime. I have film tested two rolls on my B4008 yeilding good looking negatives that haven't been xfered yet. It is a very nice lens for spontaneous shooting when subjects are moving or very close to the camera.... or moving camera for that matter.

But back to sharpness.
There are a lot of variables being overlooked in your evangelical prime lens banter. The most glaring one is shutter speed - and this is of course more amunition for your campaign to discredit all Super 8 cameras that were manufactured in Japan - It sounds like the variable that softens images more than lens sharpness is slow shutter speeds. If a Beaulieu 4008 exposes each frame at 1/86th and a Canon XLS at 1/39th - it makes sense that a Canon XLS will produce a softer image because 1/39th is too slow to stop action.


What shutter speed do you get out of your Leicina?



Steve

Edited by steve hyde, 12 December 2005 - 08:06 PM.

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#3 santo

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 08:50 PM

The Special is 1/55 at 25 fps.

Maybe in the new year when I'm back from vacation I'll shoot some film I'm willing to show on the net. My short with V2 200t, HD transfer, is undergoing extensive post maya animation development, and it seems pointless to show any of that. But, honestly, you had better be wearing Depends adult diapers if you saw that raw footage. It all looks like Daniel's eyeball pic. I got burned by a festival putting out extensive footage on a short once, so I won't be putting out any more stuff on POE LOST POE. In fact, I may soon remove some from my images in posts. I have ridiculously high unrealistic hopes for that short, I'll admit. But selling myself short has never been a weak point, and my inability to do so has served me well in a tough business in the long run. However, I'll be shooting a test of V2 200 and maybe 100 early next year in the first few months and posting it on here. HD. I'll be fully testing our man from Kodak's claims of 1 stop over exposure vs. 100t and displaying the difference. Not sure how I'll host clips without dropping money not worth spending, but it seems like I should. Stills will be many, however.

But let's be honest here, if you can't see the gigantic diference in detail and sharpness between the plus-x which I posted vs. yours, it seems pretty pointless in posting more for your benefit, doesn't it? You're obviously in denial.

Shutter speed means nothing when shooting stable subjects.

Evangelical banter is based on faith. Prime lens banter over zooms is based on empirical evidence. Hard fact that is demonstrated through logic and evidence, though obviously not acknowledged within the Japanazoomcamera super 8 faith. B)
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#4 steve hyde

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 09:23 PM

...as I have said before, I think it is interesting that you are taking Super 8 so seriously by using Leica cameras, prime lenses and sending your film off for High Definition transfers.

But get serious. The verdict is still out on the results. If you don't have any to show than let it rest. The samples you showed in that other thread looked like muddy Canadian shrubbry. You can't be serious!

Shutter speeds mean nothing when shooting stable subjects?!?! Are you making stop action animation?

Cinematography is the art of recording motion in light....

1/55th is not fast enough to stop motion (albeit close enough to make a nice moving picture) which means your Leicina Special will produce soft images of moving subjects even with a $10,000 Zeiss prime.

Steve
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#5 Rick Palidwor

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 10:02 PM

Aperture is also a big variable for sharpness. f5.6, for example, will produce a much sharper image than f1.4.

For those shooting with "cheap" zoom lenses, get enough light to stop down a few stops and you will notice a big difference.

Rick
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#6 Alan Rik

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 11:50 PM

I have a Leicina Special as well and when I received mine I shot a test roll of TriX. A few feet at 6mm, then 25mm, and then finally 66mm. All speeds as well. With my eye all the test footage had the same degree of sharpness whether at 9fps , 18fps or 25fps. I am sure if each frame were to be taken out and blown up you might be able to discern a difference. But in motion the footage was very sharp. This is with the 6-66mm Optivaron. Then when I put the Cinegon prime on? Forget about it. The footage took on a 16mm Documentary look to it. It almost looks like a different camera was used. Super sharp with great "bokeh"!
Leica guys like to say "Its all about the glass". Well I also have a 50mm Hexanon 2.0 Prime that I am going to place onto the cameras M mount and shoot some footage. I dont know if the footage will be better than the Cinegon but I can tell looking through the viewfinder that the image appears to be better. Easier to focus, brighter.
I know that some older lenses are considered stellar performers even compared to todays standards like the old Summicrons. But one thing to remember is that at the time they were considered the best.
I dont think Nikon,Canon,Nizo, Leica or Beaulieu put their best glass onto their Super 8 cameras.
If they did people would be using the 10mm Cinegon for still shooting. But they aren't. Which means that I am sure that newer lenses would have to create a better image.
But I will find out in the coming weeks! going home for the holidays armed with TriX and some Kodachrome and some Primes and a Leicina.
I did have great footage taken with a Nizo 6080 but even that didn't look as sharp and contrasty as the Leicina with the Cinegon.
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#7 Rick Palidwor

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 12:05 AM

What do people think of the lenses on the Zeiss Ikon Moviflex S8 and GS8?

I have a few and the bit of footage I saw was noticeably sharper than usual, but they all have the same problem (jumpy jumpy footage) so I haven't shot much. I need to get them into action.

Rick
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#8 santo

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 11:08 AM

The Moviflex GS8 (and S8) is the camera I used that benefited tremendously from the Precision Presure Plate. As these cameras are no less than 31 years old right now, they need a few drops of oil in the right places and a little dab of lithium grease or two on the metal parts. Proabably need the dust and emulsion flakes and deposits wiped out, too. The GS8 I had was about as mint as could be found, but still a little stability problem which the Plate solved. I posted about a minute of footage on another site once to demonstrate the zero focus breathing and steadiness that the plate gave it.

Weaknesses of the camera, and reasons to part with it for me, was that it is not an interchangeable lens design and no primes or modern lenses can be used. Nor does it have all the manual control features needed in a professional-design camera. No manual ASA setting, that sort of thing. And it had the stationary handle which meant you couldn't directly mount the camera body on a tripod for maximum stability, but had to have it stand on its handle. Unless you did some surgery like I saw was done with a Nikon R-10, like you guys did so you could use that camera to make things better for shooting, Rick. It remains an excellent point and shoot camera, in my mind, and I really like its no-nonsense thick metal box design.

The lens itself was very impressive for a zoom of the era compared to what else I tried. Better than Nizo s800, 3056, Canon 814 autozoom, 814 electronic, Bauer 715, a few Sankyos and whatnot. The fact that it was the most conservative (realistic?) f rated zoom lens at f2.8 no doubt helped it a lot. Sort of a super 8 version of the old Vario-Sonnar 10-100mm f2,8 for c-mount and Arriflex. But it did suffer from more distortion than I would like at 6mm. And it got a little soft at that range. Not perfect, certainly. But this is common with most all built-in super 8 zooms -- they are usually designed to have these gigantic zoom ranges and they gotta suffer somewhere. Unfortunately it was right at the range where most people trying to shoot a narrative film use their lenses the most. The S8's 9 - 36 f1,9 was better in this regard, but you're limited to only 9mm which is not wide enough. That's a very nice "super 8 normal" focal length, but I made extensive use of a wide angle in the 5 - 6mm range. It creates too many restrictions on shots not to be able to have a decent wide angle lens to shoot with.

Alan is right in saying that lens tech keeps marching on and the old lenses from 30 years ago can't hope to match what we have now. Same with film stock. No format has been the recipient of such rapid improvement and golden new potential like super 8. I'm really looking forward to the digital Leica M camera and plan on buying one when they come out in the coming year, along with a few wide lenses for it. Provided there is no interference with the depth of the back elements, I'll be using them on my Leicina Special.

For those who love zooms, wouldn't it be amazing to get a c-mount adapter (if that's possible) for the new 6 - 24mm Zeiss Digizoom? Talk about the ultimate super 8 zoom. Perfect focal range for dramatic filmmaking, the latest, sharpest technology. Combine it with some V2 100t and an HD transfer. It would be amazing. A super 8 filmmaking dream. Although at 6 pounds, that's a whole lot to hang on a c-mount, so maybe not so perfect?

http://www.digiprime...oom/index.shtml
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#9 santo

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 11:49 AM

1/55th is not fast enough to stop motion (albeit close enough to make a nice moving picture) which means your Leicina Special will produce soft images of moving subjects even with a $10,000 Zeiss prime.

Steve


Somebody should tell that to Arriflex and Aaton. I'll see if I can get their phone numbers and you can give them a call. All those darn 35mm features shot with the Arriflex 35 III at 1/58 -- or let alone the Arriflex 35 IIC at 1/52! -- no wonder they're not sharp. And those guys at Aaton are crazy. 1/50? 1/48??? Who are the fools developing and using mega-buck Zeiss lenses on these things. They're wasting their time.

Posted Image

A little motion blur is part of the magic of film. A shutter speed of 1/50 to 1/60 is perfectly good for handheld candid still photography and handheld motion picture photography. And certainly good for tripod mounted work, which will always be sharper. Shutter speed when shooting relatively stationary objects is not much of a factor. Shooting a relatively still actor watching or listening to something, or a still life or close up or scenery in an establishing shot, it is all you need, and pretty much nothing significant will be gained from moving from a 1/60 to a 1/90 even with normal motion. It starts to look stuttery and unnatural with faster speeds, and that's why they're not regularly used.

Lens performance varies as a result of f-stops. Like Rick Palidwor points out. That's where the significant difference plays out. Nobody testing a lens for sharpness is going to go out and shoot a hockey game and see what difference shutter speeds make on the sharpness of the lens. There is simply no connection! They're going to shoot an actor sitting still, or a still life, an exterior or landscape, or a test chart at various f-stops.

There is a pretty funny topic on the filmshooting/conspiracytheory/quackengineering/slotcar board right now, where one of the nuts is posting a short clip shot from the back of a speeding boat aimed at the shoreline, shot in broad daylight -- and he's trying to make a point about how sharp his Canon 1014xls is at f1,4. :lol: And he's serious.
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#10 jeremy edge

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 02:09 PM

My GSMO has a fixed shutter at 1/48 at 24fps....I hope my K3 isnt sharper with its 1/60 shutter!

I hate to do it but I gotta go with Santo on this one.

The lens is a big deal and the smaller the frame then the sharper your lens needs to be to squeeze all you can out of it.One camera tech when I was asking questions said " A zoom lens is always a compromise, it has more elements and a prime lens is always sharper, so a not so sharp zoom is a compromise on top of a compromise"

What camera do you guys think has the best lens for the lower budget super 8 range?
I want to buy a new cam and I want one with a decent viewfinder,an intervalometer, 24fps and slow motion and a decent lens. Is the nizo a good choice for the money? I often see them going anywhere from $170 to $500 and that's within my budget. I would love to have an interchangeable lens mount but I probably dont have the budget for that.
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#11 Sam Wells

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 02:17 PM

For those who love zooms, wouldn't it be amazing to get a c-mount adapter (if that's possible) for the new 6 - 24mm Zeiss Digizoom? Talk about the ultimate super 8 zoom. Perfect focal range for dramatic filmmaking, the latest, sharpest technology. Combine it with some V2 100t and an HD transfer. It would be amazing. A super 8 filmmaking dream. Although at 6 pounds, that's a whole lot to hang on a c-mount, so maybe not so perfect?

http://www.digiprime...oom/index.shtml


A $ 20,000 + (I don't know for sure but with the digiprimes @ 20K each.....) lens on a Super 8 camera ?
Is that really the best allocation of resources for a S8 filmmaker ?

It's way too much to hang on C mount. That 20,000 worth of quality will go downhill real fast with stress on the mount / backfocus. You'd have to reinforce it.

It'll be overcorrected for chromatic aberrations and astigmatism. (& strictly speaking it cannot without supplementary correction land Red Green & Blue on the same plane because in the HD spec the three are not equidistant in rear focal distance).

But hell, buy one try it out

If you don't like it you can sell your S8 camera and buy a Viper :D

-Sam
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#12 steve hyde

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 03:07 PM

... Clearly prime lenses are a bit sharper, but "50% more resolving power." I think this statistic is being pulled from the clear blue sky. If it comes from a credible source, please site that source so that members of this forum can better evaluate the information.

Out of the interest of *truth* here

I think we need to challenge any forum member that writes "how to" posts for "newbies" and then carries on with a bunch of unconfirmed speculation.

My challenge to Santo then, or anyone that wants to advance the argument that prime lenses produce better images on Super 8 is to show a clip that illustrates the difference.

And furthermore, all of this non-sense about transfering Super 8 to HDcam is also based on unconfirmed speculation.

The postproduction professionals I work with - just contact Myron at CinePost, or Eric at FSFT - and they will tell you that HD transfers of Super 8 might give your 4:4:4 color, but they will also give you more visible grain. With Super 8 more visible grain means watching a picture through a filter of beach sand.

Finally, I think it is absurd to use the term "razor sharp" in reference to any super 8 image. We can not escape the fact that we will always be comparing Super 8 to the larger gauges. "Razor sharp" is something that can be seen on larger gauges. Super 8 will always look soft next to the larger gauges.

Again, let's no mislead anyone into thinking Super 8 looks any better than it does unless we have visual evidence to back up the claim.

Steve
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#13 steve hyde

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 03:19 PM

My GSMO has a fixed shutter at 1/48 at 24fps....I hope my K3 isnt sharper with its 1/60 shutter!

I hate to do it but I gotta go with Santo on this one.

The lens is a big deal and the smaller the frame then the sharper your lens needs to be to squeeze all you can out of it.One camera tech when I was asking questions said " A zoom lens is always a compromise, it has more elements and a prime lens is always sharper, so a not so sharp zoom is a compromise on top of a compromise"

What camera do you guys think has the best lens for the lower budget super 8 range?
I want to buy a new cam and I want one with a decent viewfinder,an intervalometer, 24fps and slow motion and a decent lens. Is the nizo a good choice for the money? I often see them going anywhere from $170 to $500 and that's within my budget. I would love to have an interchangeable lens mount but I probably dont have the budget for that.



I'm really into shooting with my Beaulieu 4008 ZMII right now - although I have not comprehensively film tested it. I've shot five rolls -mostly negative that will go to xfer - and a roll of reversal that projected very stable and the image was clear and pretty sharp.

These B4008s need to be serviced and the batteries die. I bought mine with a sticky shutter and dead battery. The seller was asking 400.00 - I pointed out the cameras problems, did a bit of research on repair costs and came back with an offer of $125.00 given the high cost of repairs. I guess I have $575.00 tied up in the camera now and think it is worth that. All this said, if you go with a Beaulieu, you will want to have it serviced anyway. Why not find one "as is" for cheap and invest in restoring it? Obviously there are risks involved with this kind of logic, but it worked for me... Try to find one that has not been tampered with by a hack...

Steve
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#14 Adam Paul

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 04:29 PM

Even more impressive include C-mount modern primes from Schneider and Dokter Company (Tevidon) http://cgi.ebay.com/...m=7568822564 and, for a bargain, new Fujinon.


Which Fujinon primes are there?
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#15 santo

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 04:39 PM

It'll be overcorrected for chromatic aberrations and astigmatism. (& strictly speaking it cannot without supplementary correction land Red Green & Blue on the same plane because in the HD spec the three are not equidistant in rear focal distance).

-Sam


What are you talking about? Colours are split by a prism in a video camera. The coatings of the lens may be tuned to try and filter those three colours more strictly, but anybody who's used a "video lens" on a film camera always seems to say they had no problems. I can't speak from experience.

I guess that this new sharpmax thing, which only calculates a single backfocus is kind of useless? There is no testing for a red, green, blue back focus. There is only one backfocus plane on any lens that I've ever heard of.

http://www.digiprime...max/index.shtml

Please explain how somebody could create a lens with three different focal planes coming out the back? If you can, I will have learned something new. I mean a real tech explination from a lens manufacturer or something. A real reference. Anything is possible, I guess, but I find this hard to grasp.

However, you're right in saying this:

A $ 20,000 + (I don't know for sure but with the digiprimes @ 20K each.....) lens on a Super 8 camera ?
Is that really the best allocation of resources for a S8 filmmaker ?


It is pretty hard to justify, as a set of pretty good primes and an okay zoom can be aquired for a very small fraction of that cost in the correct mount already. It's just fantasy thinking, seeing a zoom with fantastic super 8 specs like that.
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#16 santo

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 05:08 PM

Which Fujinon primes are there?


http://www.rmassa.com/manu/fujinon.htm

Who knows how good they are? But they're going to be sharper than any fixed megazoom f1.4 on a 1970's home movie camera. It's pretty much impossible for them not to be.
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#17 Adam Paul

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 05:25 PM

Those are CCTV lenses. Do you really think they are sharper than the Cinegon?
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#18 santo

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 05:44 PM

I have absolutely no idea. I do know they are modern lenses rated and designed for ccd's at 1.5 megapix and up to 5 megapix. Should be sharp enough for super 8 use.
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#19 santo

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 06:06 PM

My challenge to Santo then, or anyone that wants to advance the argument that prime lenses produce better images on Super 8 is to show a clip that illustrates the difference.


Careful, Steve. Santo always lives up to his challenges, as anybody on filmshooting/flake.com knows and has lived to regret. And then they just mysteriously vanish for months. :rolleyes: I may decide to take you up on your challenge. But if I do so, it will be using your own sample super 8 shot against you. And then what will happen? Will you go on vacation, too? I hope not. You seem like a good guy.

If I do decide to take you up on this some time early next year, I will need to know one thing. What is the record you are using in this shot? That big softy Nikon R10 zoom makes the label impossible to read.

Posted Image

I would like to ideally use the same record, at the same angle and size in the frame (fairly close, anyways). And even transfer it only to DV to keep everything fair and square.

Then watcha gonna do, brrrrrother? B)
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#20 Sam Wells

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Posted 13 December 2005 - 06:07 PM

No lens will focus all wavelengths to a plane perfectly; the inability to do so is longitudinal chromatic aberration.

An apochromat will hit a plane with 3 wavelengths correct, an achromat 2. Because of the problems of rays of different angles moving through the glass of a prism block, this is difficult to correct for. Historically 3 tube cameras allowed for adjustments of the focus plane for each tube (which helped with lateral aberration as well, which is a color difference of magnification). (note a physical correction for one aberration can exacerbate the other).

With solid state cameras that have the chips sealed in it's not possible to move them, so as to give lens desingners a hand the specification for rear focus in the band of each primary is optimised by a small difference in relative position. (Normally red will focus long and blue will focus short with respect to green). I don't know the figures (we're talking microns) and they are different for HD than SD (I don't know which the HDV etc cameras use).

Does it matter ? Depends on the ammount you care I guess. We used the first digiprimes (doubtless designed for the HD spec) in the US on a non HD camera in fact (MSW 900P) without knowing how that cameras chip positions had been constructed. Everything looked very very good, so.....

I suspect the Starmax is focussing for green, as most of the luminence signal is using green information.

-Sam
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