Tasmanian Enews December 2012

Merry Christmas from Tasmanian ACS President, Peter Curtis ACS

Hi ACS Tasmania members – Well Another year is almost over and it’s been a busy one for the ACS both here in Tasmania and at a national level. In recent weeks we have held another two interesting local events – firstly a screening of the feature-length documentary Side by Side which deals with the gradual transition from film to digital image capture throughout the entire industry; and secondly a day trip to the East Coast to meet new ACS Tas member, Pawel Achtel and check out his amazing array of equipment for capturing stunning images both above and below the water. Tom Waugh has written a great little article outlining our day with Pawel for this end of year Tasmanian ACS eNews.

Also in recent weeks I had the great pleasure of attending the Vic/Tas ACS Awards in Melbourne where we saw half a dozen ACS Tas members pick up various awards (12 in all) and to top it off join Trent Butler ACS as he received his ACS Accreditation certificate and pin. Congratulations to award winners Beau Molloy, Mark Dobbin, Cameron Atkins, Beau Molloy, Trent Butler ACS, and Peter Curtis ACS. Also, a big thankyou goes to our wonderful Tasmanian sponsors, Pure Tasmania, Southern Cross Television and Screen Tasmania. It was a fantastic night.

I had hoped to run an informal end of year local ACS event where we screened Trent’s ACS Accreditation reel, so together we could check out his amazing work, shot in all sorts of distant corners of the world. But I suspect the ‘silly season’ is already well and truly upon us, and the chances of members finding the time to attend another event at this time of the year might be difficult. Stay tuned, but I reckon we will postpone it till early in the New Year, when things settle down a bit and people return from their summer breaks.

The latest addition to the ACS Tasmania family, Harriett Atkins.

November was a particularly big month for Hobart member Cameron Atkins who became a Dad, as well as picking up an ACS award! Young Harriett was born earlier than expected on Melbourne Cup Day, and Cameron reports she is doing really well. No doubt your beautiful daughter will bring you and Kate great happiness and on behalf of all the members I send our congratulations to you both.

Pete and Graham sharing the love.

Last weekend I joined over 100 people gathered in Hobart to mark the occasion of Graham Gates’ retirement from his media and broadcast teaching role at Rosny College. It was a fantastic celebration and a fitting way to pay tribute to Graham who has done a wonderful job of running such a successful and relevant course for the past 24 years. Graham, a long time ACS Tas member, has taught so many current industry practitioners much more than the fundamental skills to make films or get work in broadcast media. He has infused in each and every one of his students a passion for producing quality work, and the determination to discipline achieve it. Therefore it was excellent to see so many show up to say thanks to Graham and celebrate his amazing career as a teacher and mentor. Thanks to ACS member Tom Waugh and Claire Warren for doing such a great job organising the night.

Past & present Rosny College students farewell Graham Gates after 24 years.

All that remains is for me to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Thanks to the ACS Tas committee for their work throughout the year – especially David Hudspeth and Mike Sampey. Thanks also to those members who made the effort to attend any of the various events we held through 2012 and I hope to see you all at others throughout 2013!

Is this man the real James Bond?

Exterior scene. Morning. An undisclosed location. The Tasmanian ACS contingent arrive. We are welcomed by Pawel Achtel and taken through to 'The Shed'. A military grade re-breather, Special Forces suit, Antarctic grade dry suit and tuxedo all hanging ready. Have we just found the real James Bond? Or maybe Q’s workshop?

Pawel has a Masters degree in Engineering and you can tell he enjoys pushing the technical limits of design, particularly in underwater cinematography.

Pawel started off by introducing us to some of his ‘Shed’ gadgets. All kept in their original plastic and foam covers in Pelican hard cases,we were all wowed by the Leica APO Telyt R modular telephoto lenses. Pawel's are converted to PL mount for use on cinema cameras. See Leica's in depth article about the kit here:

The Zeiss Master Primes were next to be shown, including Pawel's favourite, the 14mm T1.3. Pawel told of his love for rectilinear wideangle lenses which capture shots similar to human vision. Rectilinear means those lenses without geometric distortion, thus rendering straight lines, both horizontally and vertically, as straight lines. This gets more and more difficult to achieve optically, the smaller the focal length gets.

Pawel then revealed the world’s first PL mounted live view Canon DSLR, a 50D, which required him to dremel the mirror assembly out for use with the wide angle Master primes that have elements protruding behind their mount. You can read more about it here: http://www.fdtimes.com/2009/09/17/pl-mount-for-canon-eos/

Lunch was then eaten before a showing of the latest in 3D underwater cinematography: the 3Deep underwater housing. Completely designed by Pawel, it houses two RED Epics, shooting at 5K resolution, using standard underwater lenses made by Nikonos and weighing in at only 25kg. The RED Epics are modified, the solid state drives are above and below, not on the side of the cameras, to allow an interaxial (the distance between the sensors) of 100mm. The cameras are stripped of their standard lens mounts and bolted to the patented front panel of the housing. On the other side of the panel are the Nikonos mounts. This is where the genius of the system is. External Nikonos underwater lenses straight to the sensors rather than above water lenses used behind a flat or curved port.

3Deep ready to rock and roll, the underwater flash is the red piece on top.

Pawel explained that for 2/3" HD sensor cameras, the previous standard for underwater cinematography, an 8-12" dome port was adequate for minimising distortion, aberrations and to achieve satisfactory edge to edge sharpness with wide angle lenses. The problems started when everyone wanted to use those same housings with super 35mm sensors and 5K resolution.

So Pawel came up with the idea for DeepX, the original 2D version of 3Deep. Machined from a block of titanium, the whole rig (with Red Epic inside) weighed only 10kg! Using the famous Nikonos UW 15mm f2.8, Pawel achieved Nyquist (the theoretical maximum resolution of the sensor) while also maintaining the rectilinear wide angle view.

The system also finally achieved outstanding edge to edge sharpness underwater, a first for large sensor cameras. Pawel worked out, to achieve the same resolution results you would need a 36” dome port for the Red Epic sensor size. Pawel could only find one company game enough to attempt to make his Cineport 12” dome for 2/3” HD cameras, let alone a 36” one!

3Deep's 100mm interaxial gives an excellent 3D effect underwater and because at absolute most you have 30m visibility, the risk of infinity deviation, the point at which your eyes have to look separate ways (unnatural) to fuse the 3D image, is small. It is a side by side 3D setup so you crop the images in post to match the framing and change convergence point. This means while sacrificing some field of view and resolution, it avoids focus plane and keystoning issues you can get with converged (eg: mirror) rigs due to one camera looking straight forward and the other 'toed-in’.

Pawel, the Tasmanian ACS contingent and 3Deep housing at ‘The Shed’

It also means you don't have to try and adjust convergence on the go and makes for a 25kg complete rig rather than a competing underwater mirror rig which is 80kg (and it only houses 2/3” sensor cameras shooting at 2K!) (http://www.live-production.tv/news/3d-4k-arising/deepsee-x.html)

The system has a Marshall Orchid OR-70-3D auto-stereoscopic monitor at the back for behind a polycarbonate window for framing and focus.
The cameras are kept in sync for 3D capture via a cable but each time Pawel presses record he uses a simple camera flash on top of the rig so that in post he can be 100% sure they are in perfect sync.

It is an amazing piece of engineering and, in use, shows the KISS principle perfectly. Keep It Simple Stupid!

We all look forward to seeing more of Pawel's amazing work on the big screen in 3D, maybe even at the new Peter Jackson HFR standard of 48fps which Pawel has decided to start shooting!

Pawel’s website is www.achtel.com

Article and Photos by Tom Waugh.

Tasmanian ACS President Peter Curtis presented Pawel with a copy of the Shadowcatchers book as a thank you.

© 2019 Australian Cinematographers Society