ACS WA eNews ~ JULY 2018



CINEKIDS WA To Be Re-Launched
BEHIND THE LENS with Simon Akkerman ACS


Dear Fellow members of the ACS WA branch,

First off an apology that we have not managed to get a newsletter out sooner as many of you know WA has had an unprecedented amount of work here lately encompassing many camera crew and committee members my self included, however we hope now to get back to the normal monthly cycle forthwith. With that in mind and now the mid year mark lets hope it continues well into the year as they say a freelancer life is one of feast or famine!.

The WA Branch as you may be aware has had several very successful "drop in" style events, our gear nights at HD Rentals and Location Equipment brought a good number of the community together to chat all things cinematography. The WA committee continue to come up with great opportunities for members to get involved so please stay tuned for one about to be announced late July.

Recently I've represented the WA ACS on some panel style meetings namely with the Arts and Culture Sectors and Screenwest to at least give our community of cinematographers a voice and presence. One item I brought up was the "mid level" career support (if there is such a thing), emerging sectors are extremely important however we should not expect the "emerged" to be out on their own and allow them also to continue and develop too, normally by this time people have become reasonably knowledgable in their chosen field with financial commitments and families to support. My thoughts are a strong Mid career sector will have a natural effect and create opportunities for the emerging sector anyway.

So I will keep if fairly short this month and wish you all a great winter shooting where ever you are.

Dave Le May ACS
WA Branch President


Its time to launch ACS Cinekids WA.

An ACS CineKids Member is a young person aged between 10 - 15 years, who has a passion for cameras and filmmaking. This new membership category was created to encourage and foster interested kids to participate and take an active hands on approach to Cinematography.

The success will depend greatly on our members supplying a small amount of their time and experience.

We would like to ask our members to support the CineKids program in any way possible. We are looking for people to express interest in mentoring our workshops, supplying equipment, sponsorship and providing access to their sets so we may run small excursions giving on-set experience.

The WA Branch think this is a great opportunity to give something back, provide encouragement and promote good practices in the next generation of cinematographers.
If you know of any kids wanting to join, please point them here.

If you would like to offer any form of assistance or recommendations, please do not hesitate to contact ACS WA Branch, local member Iain Appleyard will be co-ordinating the WA branch of Cinekids.


Members of the ACS were very lucky to spend the evening with Nic Sadler from Chemical Wedding, the creator of the much loved Helios, Helios Pro and now Artemis Pro and Artemis Prime.

He started the night off revealing all the features of Helios Pro, a software that can pinpoint the position of the sun, the moon and even the stars (which is new to Helios Pro), such as the new milky way tool which gives you three different ways of visualising the position of stars in any location.
To continue on from that, and what is so fantastic about Helios Pro is that you can pre-visualise exactly what a shot will look like in any given location, at any time of the year, or day. With a light simulation feature that enables you to see how light will illuminate and how shadows will fall, on any subject or object; such as a car, it truly is special.

Another notable feature of Helios Pro is its ability to augment reality. For example; with landscapes. Nic and the team created a dynamic 3D mesh of a surrounding terrain that factors in shadows and light that will change throughout the day and night across hills, mountains or valleys. On the other hand, Helios also enables you to download city scape data and renders a 3D reconstruction of buildings, skyscrapers and streets, ultimately being able to see how light will fall through a city and what shadows would be cast.

The star of the evening was a device which was half hardware, and half software (and an integration with Helios Pro), a Directors ViewFinder titled, Artemis Prime.
It is a sophisticated piece of software that allows you to use the taking lens that you would use on a job or on a scout/ recce with a digital ‘directors viewfinder’ software driven program that allows you to produce, and very precisely find the format of any digital camera and format (from super 35mm up to Vista Vision), along with an extensive database of taking lenses.

The way it works is that an image is captured from inside, on a focus screen which then views the image using an iPhone or iPad interface (iPad being the most preferred especially on set, as it creates a more unified decision). Artemis Prime is ultimately trying to help the director, the visual effects supervisor and the cinematographer to agree on a general approach. Exclusively, Artemis Pro’s and Artemis Prime’s emulates physical stand ins, sort of working like a sketch pad, in which you can also annotate, send and share to any crew members.

Artemis Prime configures to any particular camera, format and lens (over 6,500 to be specific), and with interchangeable lens mounts (PL & PV)
With many more features; It also does all spherical and anamorphic lenses (with any squeeze ratio) and any digital format, up to the Vista Vision size. It is pixel accurate and can create frame lines, and shaded areas which can be applied to the image.

With Artemis and Helios being the preferred digital viewfinders for smartphone and tablets they have become a fundamental tool for professional filmmakers and cinematographers, especially for our very own Denson Baker, Mandy Walker and Toby Oliver.

On behalf of the WA Branch, we wanted to thank Nic for his time, and for his wealth of knowledge experiences with Artemis and Helios. It was very engrossing and enjoyable.


Held at HD Rentals, Leederville, our April Drop-In, the second session of our gear themed nights where members get an opportunity to meet our local rental companies and see what they have to offer. With our first being held at Location Equipment, we had yet another amazing turn out of members and new guests!

The HD team of Michael, Mick and Charlie set-up stations within their space, that was stretched out to every corner of the warehouse. This gave all whom visited the option to drift from station to station with ease, also to admire the fantastic facility as a whole. Each station showcased their extensive shop of lenses, gimbals, cameras, grip gear, lighting, drones, underwater housings, viewfinders and loads of other accessories.

The star of the show and most certainly and quite literally the centre of attention, was the Freefly System; MoVI XL. Holding in an Arri Alexa with the Canon Cine Servo Zoom 17-120mm T2.95 - T3.9. (A 4k Ready, 11 blade iris, compact and lightweight lens), it was a big hit. Particularly, with the MoVI controller, which gave a whole new meaning to CONTROL, especially with the Alpha wheels.

They had an Arri Alexa partnered with Cooke Optics sat (very securely) on a Mini Worrall geared tripod head that with two brass wheels, and by blessing will allow for the smoothest of smooth pans and tilts, once mastered. There certainly was not a lack of display with glass! The Leica Summicron-C set, the Cooke S4’s, the Zeiss Compact Primes, to even Rokinon Cine glass were all on display for anyone to pick up and have a look at, swap and play around with on an Arri Director's Viewfinder. Black Magic Ursa Mini Pro’s, and Pocket Cinema Camera’s were also on show along side RED Dragon’s and Rick Rifici's custom Underwater Housings.

Now, one item that particularly stood out was the PolarPro FiftyFifty, which is designed too you can capture split-level photos and video. The FiftyFifty pushes water away from the camera lens (well, a GoPro) so it can capture what is under and over the water line.

We can’t forget to mention a Freefly ALTA (that held a RED Dragon in a MoVI Gimbal); the most capable drone that is designed to fold, un fold and fly within minutes, additionally with full lens control thanks to RT Motion Latitude.
They also had a Mac powered up on a smartvideo Hub with QTAKE; an advanced video assist system. With features like; instant playback, powerful clip database, real-time image processing, and intuitive editing, it is a choice that no industry professional could turn down.

Finally, who could leave a night like this without a bit of fun on the Phantom Flex 4K. Surrounded by Creamsources there was a perfect opportunity to have a few of those who wanted to jump in front of the camera for some action in (1977fps), at 2k. The Phantoms exceptional flexibility when it comes to frame rate capabilities, and customisable work flow, sure make adapting to different shooting styles, highly fashionable! The full-featured on-camera control interface eliminates the need to connect to a computer when on set and in the field. What is cool is that all camera parameters can be set from the built in menu on the right-hand side of the camera body, along with basic controls which can be found on both sides.

We wanted to thank HD Rentals for giving the ACS WA branch members the opportunity to share in common interests and spend a night with friends and colleagues in a space that really makes what we do worth the while. Especially when it’s not sitting in a case, or packed away on a shelf!

BEHIND THE LENS with Simon Akkerman ACS

A bit about your career as a Cinematographer

Two years after the opening of Western Australia’s iconic PIFT now know as FTI, I started my career aged 15 back in March 1973 as a trainee cameraman in the studios of Channel Nine Perth. The station was only 8 years old which produced thousands of local TV commercials and a stack of local TV shows such as Spotlight, Woman’s World, The Happy Harry Show, Zoom and Doctor Featherweather to name a few. My first day on the job had me camera operate on Woman’s World half an hour after clocking on. Training was like a non swimmer being thrown into the deep end of the pool. With the revival of a National feature film industry in the early seventies West Australians where blessed with John McCallum shooting the first WA shot full length feature film,“The Nickel Queen” at Ora Banda in 1970. Unfortunately no local professional film crews existed in WA at the time. In the mid seventies, the Grundy organisation wanted to make two Tele movies in WA namely “The Newman Shame and The Scalp Merchant”. Grundy did a deal with Channel Nine and Seven to use their studios as a production office and in return allow three locals to work on the films to get work experience. As nobody wanted to be clapper loader I raised my hand and got the job.

It is on the Newman Shame I learned what Grips, Gaffers and dollies where all about. One of the reasons why WA was not high on the film making agenda of the seventies boom was the lack of experienced personnel and equipment in the state. The cost of bringing the circus across from the East on the then unsealed Nullarbor Plain track was astronomical and in most cases not budget permitting. My fascination with the platform dolly brought over from Melbourne for the Newman Shame shoot in 1976 sparked an interest in me to look further into movie making equipment. As Darryl Binning had by now invested in lighting equipment it was only sensible to fill the gap and import an Elemack Spyder Dolly from Italy to set up a Grip unit. After engaging my twin brother Karl into the business, we promoted the equipment and it’s use by holding seminars for advertising agencies and anyone wanting to make a film of sorts.

The break came in 1980 when equipment was now available in WA and encouraged films such as Roadgames, Harlequin and the first locally produced TV series, Falcon Island. While the dolly and Karl are running with it, I continued working at the station to pay the dolly depth back to the Italians. After going freelance in 1982, I acquired 2 x 35MM Arri 2C and 2B cameras to further my film experience. For the following three years I continued shooting local 35 MM adverts and documentaries such as “Battle for the Golden Road”, the first inside look at the elite SASR unit and “The Wonders of Western Australia”. In 1985 Paul Barron started production on Windrider. My familiarity with 35MM shooting got me the job as Camera Operator with my twin bro by my side as Key Grip. For me as Cinematographer the big break came from our own legend, Peter West asking me to DP his stuntmen extravaganza films “Strike of the Panther” and “Return of the Panther”. This further sparked German Director, Rainer Erler asking me to shoot his latest screen adaptation “Sugar”. captured on super 16MM it was Rainer’s first film shot with dollies and jib arms. The eighty’s where great for film making as the 10BA tax clause allowed investors to write of $1.50 for every dollar invested. Sadly in the ninety’s all this stopped putting a brake on the Film Industry Australia wide. Moving forward 28 years on and not much has changed apart from earning less today than we did then. Early ninety’s saw me travel overseas creating my own production, “World Video Atlas”. The ultimate documentary making lifestyle. Unfortunately with the introduction of Google Earth we were forced to can the project.

Since then I have worked on the Russell Boyd Academy Award winning, “Master and Commander”, as 2nd unit DP shooting the storm waters in the Southern Ocean and several TV series such as Stormworld, Wormwood and Streetsmartz as Director of Photography. At present I am still shooting whatever comes my way. I am an accredited life member with the Australian Cinematographers Society where I am still active on the WA branch committee as Vice President. I am also a member with Professional Film Crew of WA keeping me in the loop on many levels.
I am writing a book about my life experiences as a Cinematographer and at 240 pages so far there is still no end in site to finish it.

How important is mentorship?

In 2006, I was a Cinematography mentor at the International Academy of Film and Television based in Cebu, Philippines for six months. IAFTV is a first class academy running closely with London, Los Angeles and our own Sydney based Film and TV Academy. I believe every keen upcoming film maker should at least do a basic course. It gives the young guns a better picture working on a film or TV production. It also helps extinguish the Hollywood lights that constantly flicker in the eyes of the beginners...however the glamour always disappears when the reality of a real set kicks in.

What advice would you give to a person starting out in the industry?

Set your goal as to what you want to do. Stay focused and learn as much as possible from people around you. Follow your dream ... it is the most powerful thought you can provoke.

Most memorable on set moment?

My life is full of funnies...ok, lets look at page 197 of the unfinished book and....
Oh... there is the time I was dacked on the tail gate of our camera truck in the middle of James Street Northbridge during the shooting of “The Newman Shame”. I had both hands in the film changing bag reloading the film magazines when a bored grip came past and could not resist the urge to drop my pant to my ankles. There were lots of car honks as the midday traffic passed by. This was the seventies ...It was funny and no, it didn’t mentally screw me over for life.
Then there is the time I had a football size iron ore boulder land on my back after shooting a mine explosion at the Goldsworthy mine site in the Pilbara. I was airlifted to Royal Perth hospital and received a get well soon card and a new jacket as compensation for my suffering. Today I would have been a millionaire.
I have been in three plane crashes. Had dozens of near misses ....made a documentary with the Mujahidin.... enough now ….read the book when it comes out.....

Newsletter contributors Erin Macliver and Iain Appleyard Edited and published by ACS WA Branch committee member Ben Berkhout


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