Seen in Vancouver #405

Vancouver food and culture magazine Scout picks up my new film on artist Robert Studer.

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A nice shout out from a friend….

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Robert Studer: a curious nature

I just finished this short video on artist Robert Studer.

So many ideas came out of this collaboration. I had to leave out a lot of great material so there is a very good chance that a longer more in-depth documentary will grow out of this.

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Marcel Studer: On making primitive tools – by Craig Anderl

6 year old Marcel Studer explains the making of authentic primitive tools – crafted with help from his dad, artist Robert Studer. Music: Bon Iver covering Peter Gabriel

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More from Roaming Dragon on Toro Magazine – Some ‘how to’ secrets for great food.



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New Canon 5D video for Toro Magazine by Andrew Lavigne and myself.

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Mini-monolith – The iphone 4

I resisted getting a ‘smart phone’ for as long as I thought I could. I had seen how the bright shiny ‘Retina’ screen of the iphone 4 progressively demanded the attention of its owner, quickly taking over from all other distractions, including dinner companions. It changed the way you interacted with the world.

Then I got one. It’s probably the most amazing piece of technology I have ever indulged in. For me, it’s all about the apps. Like most newbies I probably downloaded 25 apps as soon as I got the thing. Over time I’ve culled and acquired more specific tools for my preferences and needs. After a period of months, I’ve grown accustomed to the interface and so some of the initial ‘magic’ has worn off. It’s becoming just another ‘thing’ that happens to do very cool stuff  – yet costs me significant money on a monthly basis.

I really appreciate internet access via 3G. And I appreciate the wi-fi feature when traveling to stay connected. I only really need the one device. What I don’t appreciate is the massive amount of data tracking and complete and total mapping of my every move via embedded GPS location positioning. This is shadowy to me.

I guess I am willing to trade my relative anonymity for the beauty of the 5 megapixel HD camera, specifically coupled with the Hipstamatic app and the Almost DSLR app. Both make this device an incredible machine for gathering images and enabling one to visually interpret one’s world. And for providing an incredibly easy way to share these images widely with others.

This device is a major player in the human/technological evolution. I’m not sure where it will take me, or us.

But for now, thanks for the pics!

Littlest bird.

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smallHD D6 HD HDMI Field Monitor – review

I was recently offered a D6 monitor (HDMI version) to try out by smallHD. I originally purchased a Marshal 6″ HDMI monitor but was very displeased with the results. Because of the way the Canon 5D Mark II outputs its HDMI signal, the image on the Marshall was in effect, no larger than the image on the back of the camera. The 1 to 1 pixel mapping just jumped the image in and cut off much of the view area. Not very useful. It also used 4 x AA batteries which heated up very quickly…  and also burned out very quickly. Another drawback was there was no HDMI pass through so if you wanted to transmit, say with the Teradek Cube, or other similar device, you could not do so. Therefore I returned it.

I’ve been working on a number of new projects with director Michael Rymer (Battlestar Galactica, 17th Precinct). Michael  is an early adopter and a pioneer in DSLR feature filmmaking.  His Canon shot film ‘Face to Face’ is currently doing very well on the festival circuit. At it’s premiere, the film won the ‘Panavision Independent Spirit Award’ at the 2011 Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Its interesting to note that this DSLR film was awarded a major festival prize by one of only two companies truly synonymous with 35mm film based production (Arri and Panavision).

On the NBC pilot ‘17th Precinct‘ (penned by BSG writer/producer Ron Moore, and photographed by John Bartley, ASC (Lost, X-Files)  I operated a 5D and 7D alongside two Arri Alexis and a Red camera. The Canon footage cut in perfectly and I was able to move quickly and pick up scenes and shots that would never have been captured had the main unit been charged with obtaining them.

Michael, recognizing the speed and efficiency of DSLR shooting, used me to maximum effect. One major drawback at the time was that I could not feed him a signal to review what I was shooting and had to walk the camera over to him to play footage back. After the pilot wrapped I researched monitors and methods and discovered the Teradek Cube, which allows for wifi transmission to an ipad or Mac Book Pro – its amazing really. But one needs a pass through monitor if you are going to share the signal… cue smallHD!

A quick web search found the smallHD line of products. They were very helpful and generously offered to send me a demo D6 to try. I had it for a week or so and used it recently on an indie shoot with a Sony Z3 and on my own 5D rig.

Right out of the case you can tell that it is a serious piece of gear. Its made from robust rubberized aluminum and feels solid in your hand, giving you that warm fuzzy feeling of the ‘techno high’. It came with a battery attachment to use Canon camera batteries, but you can order an attachment for whatever batteries you have or use regularly. For me, the best thing is the custom battery that they include with the kit. It ran the monitor for 8 hours on the shoot. With two of these you can do a full 12 hour day without worrying about a recharge. If needed you can even plug it in to mains and still use it while it charges. This is enormously useful.

The picture is exceptionally clear and there is a custom setting for the 5D to get the full screen real estate during record and an easy switch to get a full 1080p image during playback (the 5D does an internal conversion and doesn’t offer full 1080p during record but the monitor compensates with no quality loss). The screen is quite glossy and so reflects what is around, you can use the sunshade, or order a matte screen protector and that should solve any issues there.

It has very easy to use menu functions that allow for total customization and calibration. There is a false color setting to show exposure range which is very accurate, and a focus assist that shows white lines on the focal plane (useful for the 1st AC). It’s very easy to access with a single button push.

The D6 with SDI (which I didn’t have but want) allows you to send a signal out to BNC . This is necessary on professional productions with a director camped at video village, and those with a Digital Imaging Technician.

The kit comes with a screen protector, which can be replaced (its like what you put on your new iphone or the back of your camera to protect the LCD). It also has a very easy to attach neoprene sun guard that blocks out any stray light in a bright shooting environment (its 8 inches deep or so). The D6 kit I used had a little add-on splitter for pass through but it was no hassle to use it. Newer versions will not require this. It also comes with a USB drive which allows you to add new firmware — which is regularly updated for new cameras and settings. All the cables I needed were included, as well as two mounting options: a small hot shoe gimbal and an articulating arm also with a hot shoe gimbal.

This a very future proof monitor and it is exceptionally well made. Compared to the Marshal, it was like going from driving an old Hyundai Excel to a new BMW. It just feels good in your hands and it is built to work as you need it to. Its an amazing piece of kit that I will definitely add to my package (in multiples).

smallHD is soon releasing a D4 with an optical viewfinder attachment. I am very interested to test this unit as it is lighter weight and would be great for Steadicam shooting or small space configurations. I covet a D6 SDI for studio production set-ups.

I really can’t say enough about the quality of this product. The picture and the unit itself are simply beautiful. Its well worth the very reasonable investment.

Way to go smallHD!

And thanks to Reed for the loaner!

Craig Anderl

Unboxing the D6

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SmallHD D6 Monitor Delivered today

I intercepted UPS while they caffeinated themselves and sorted their shipments at the drop point near our place.

Sometimes you are in the right place at the right time. I dropped Heather at the shop with her load of antiques and treasures gleaned from our Easter trip to Sparkling Hill in Vernon, BC…and voila…there was the cue of brown vans. Now I can unpack it and try it out!

Review forthcoming!

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Interview with director Michael Rymer

Michael talks about making his DSLR feature film “Face the Face”. The film, about restorative justice, is currently doing very well on the festival circuit. This interview was conducted after the film recently won the Panavision Independent Spirit Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

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