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Matt Box Dilemma


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#1 sgranlund

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 08:32 AM

Hi there,
I hate to sound niave, but why do matt boxes, french flags, and follow focus apparatice cost SOOO much?
I understand what they do, why we need them, but am I missing something? $4,500. for a decent setup. I could have a machine shop vustom machine the samethings for about $60.00. the material involved in all I mentioned is about $9.95 (including labor), so please tell me what I am missing, surley I must be...I am a newbie at Pro Equipment, so I am sorry for the silly question, there must be a reasonable answer. When I asked the same question on some other websites, I was told that aside from filter ease of use, light shading, (which a piece of cardboard would do), and convienece...it just looks professional...?
i am using several 3ccd mini dv cams, hvx200 hd cam, super 16mm, super8mm. I am using a cheap $1400. matt box with no follow focus (which would be nice for the feature films we shhot), any help and suggestions, sans sarcasim, would be great. thanks
sgranlund
www.cinelineproductions.com ;)
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#2 Michael Collier

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 04:21 PM

i doubt you could get a machine shop to make a mattebox, follow focus and a french flag for 60 bucks (isnt machinist time like 120/hour + machine time depending on which machines they use?)

The reason they cost so much: quality. Sure you can get a machinist who doesnt know the first thing about follow focus. And maybe in the end you get a FF with too much play. Even the slightest play in the gears can keep your lens from hitting its focus mark properly. As for the matte box, there are usually a lot more small expensive parts than you see. I mean each filter stage, pluss any hardware to make one of them rotate, plus special hinges and mountings, light weight aluminum and matte black powder coat, in the quantities theses companies make these things, they are bound to cost a lot. They are probably all hand made, and in general are worth every penny (especially when you compare them to the cost of other film equipment)

Sounds like the matte box you have does everything you need it too. As for follow focus, thats much more difficult, since your lens dont have a physical focus ring (they are electronically linked to the servos.) I would look for a focus wheel that plugs into the LANC port or firewire, rather than one that physically rotates your focus ring.
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#3 Brian Wells

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Posted 07 June 2006 - 01:50 AM

sorry for the silly question, there must be a reasonable answer.

Because a person might spend several years designing, protoyping, testing, perfecting, and eventually manufacturing a basic matte box (full time work) only to sell a few hundred units over the lifetime of the product. R&D costs serious cash.

On another note... Bas Ladru created one of the finest matte boxes ever available. The Vocas matte box is incredibly well designed, and not too expensive @ $1200 incl. rods support. I have one and it's fantastic.
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#4 sgranlund

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Posted 07 June 2006 - 10:47 AM

i doubt you could get a machine shop to make a mattebox, follow focus and a french flag for 60 bucks (isnt machinist time like 120/hour + machine time depending on which machines they use?)

The reason they cost so much: quality. Sure you can get a machinist who doesnt know the first thing about follow focus. And maybe in the end you get a FF with too much play. Even the slightest play in the gears can keep your lens from hitting its focus mark properly. As for the matte box, there are usually a lot more small expensive parts than you see. I mean each filter stage, pluss any hardware to make one of them rotate, plus special hinges and mountings, light weight aluminum and matte black powder coat, in the quantities theses companies make these things, they are bound to cost a lot. They are probably all hand made, and in general are worth every penny (especially when you compare them to the cost of other film equipment)

Sounds like the matte box you have does everything you need it too. As for follow focus, thats much more difficult, since your lens dont have a physical focus ring (they are electronically linked to the servos.) I would look for a focus wheel that plugs into the LANC port or firewire, rather than one that physically rotates your focus ring.


Thank you for the quick response..i agree there probably is more to them than meets the eye, at first glance they seem so simple. I guess i will have to break down and get one for the HVX200, i actually do need it on my XL1s 's i am using mini 35 adapters, with prime lens' i also am using a manual servo lens. I think i was so confused because everyone i asked about the matte box said...well it looks more professional, which seemed like a weak reason to use them, ( i even read that in a couple different magazine articles)..i mean...they do make things look more professional...LOL. Oh well thanks again for shedding some light into my darkness.

Edited by sgranlund, 07 June 2006 - 10:48 AM.

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