2D House Welcomes the Freefly MoVI M10

March 8th, 2014

I have a lot of thoughts on the MoVI. It’s a pretty spectacular piece of equipment. Lending itself to shots that were previously nearly impossible and making them almost easy by comparison.

The main thought I have regarding the unit is that people are almost all overlooking its best feature. It makes video… easier. What I mean is that while the MoVI can add features to your production unlike any other type of gear it can still add basic features that most people seem to be overlooking.

This video below was shot entirely on the MoVI and love it for the simple reason that there weren’t any crazy moves. It was a simple video, shot very well, with a device that made their jobs easier.

“From 1994″ Short Film from Casey Warren | MINDCASTLE on Vimeo.

I think that’s the biggest piece of news regarding the MoVI. It can make shots that would normally not be very hard, only a bit time-consuming to set up, become a slice. The moves involved are done so easily on the MoVI it’s hard to think about going back to tripods and jibs at all.

We’ll be shooting a lot and hoping to post as much as we can from this thing. One thing is for sure, Rube Goldbergs + MoVI are going to be a joy.

David Dvir,

Slow Motion Christmas

December 11th, 2013

Last week we were hired to shoot a slow motion booth at North Strategic and Notch Video’s annual Christmas bash.  With a little teamwork with Notch we put together a fun set and they even found a sleigh to make the night extra fun.  The video speaks for itself.  Great night!

This was shot at the Drake Hotel in Toronto. We’re open for business slow motion booth-wise so if you think this would be a great addition to an event go ahead and give us a shout!

David Dvir

Why, As a Professional, I Shop at Vistek (long post)

November 11th, 2013

Let me preface this post by stating that I have no affiliation with Vistek and that I gain nothing by promoting the company (although I wouldn’t mind a kickback).

I’ve been buying photo and video equipment like a crack addict for about four years (and like a meth addict for even more). I’ve shopped at a variety of stores including online. I am located in Canada (yay!) and particularly in Toronto, Ontario. There are two main companies with brick and mortar locations in my area; Vistek.ca and Henrys.com . Now of course there are actually a large number of other stores that I’m familiar with within 50KM that I could include in this post but I’d rather keep it between the “titans”.

I’ve shopped at both of these stores a lot. And I mean a LOT. I’ve had good and bad experiences from both and even great ones from both. However only one of these locations has given me the feeling that they give a shit about me. Spoiler alert – it’s Vistek. And you know what, it may even just be down to the particular manager or salesperson I’m dealing with, maybe it’s not even the company at all. In either case I think I’ve decided that I will actually exclusively shop somewhere (a decision I never thought I’d even think about making) and that’s Vistek.

I’m in the process of acquiring a lot of gear for various projects. I’m buying a lot. Probably a lot more than most professionals in the area. So you may think that’s why I’m enjoying getting some better treatment and that it’s also likely the reason I’m getting better treatment, but it’s not. I’ve asked for quotes from a number of companies for lenses and cameras and lighting and you name it but only one company seems to give me the quote I’m looking for without having to negotiate back and forth for ages, if at all. The US based online stores are enormous and very well stocked, but they don’t give two poops about me. If I spend 50, 000 dollars at their store they say “thanks” and that’s about it. Whereas Vistek has been working hard to help me save where I can, and honestly, it’s a lot more difficult for them as the Canadian margins on retail can be a lot lower than the relative American ones. So when Vistek quotes me 8% less than any US retailer for a set of CP.2′s I take note. This company is trying… and it’s working.

Another thing to point out is that maybe I haven’t shopped at other stores enough to earn their VIP treatment. You know what I say to that? Screw that. I am a professional spending butt-tons on equipment all the time. If you don’t want my money because I haven’t shopped with you before, that’s fine with me. I’ll take my business elsewhere. I’m not offended, or insulted in any way however I am also not interested in paying a **new-client premium**. I’m a serious buyer and am tired of being treated like anything but.

Anyway.. let’s discuss why in particular Vistek has impressed me of late and perhaps why Henry’s hasn’t. Henry’s is widely known as a consumer store but they do carry a large line of professional equipment as well. They have a lot of stores and definitely a lot more than Vistek. But I find their employees to be just generic retail employees, with maybe a photography hobby. This of course isn’t a universal statement but just something I generally find to be true. I’ve, on many occasions, had unfulfilling discourse with Henry’s employees and also often overheard them flat-out give completely terrible and incorrect information to customers. Their website is OK at best and a lot of information on it is inaccurate. I feel like Henry’s is doing it’s best to work as little as possible to maintain business. Getting special orders from them is a nightmare and despite them having so many stores it’s very difficult to get anything quality unless you go to their main store in downtown Toronto.

Vistek: well I bet you thought I’d praise the Vistek employees but where they tend to make up for in experience and knowledge they kind suck balls at customer service (at least in one particular situation). I’ve had a Vistek employee refuse to give me a discount because he “bets he spends more at Vistek than I do”. He doesn’t. But the notion was incredibly insulting that I was only going to be discounted if I spend more than him. Although I will add that despite that jerk most of Vistek employees are alright. However ultimately it is retail and you’ll deal with someone who’s a little clueless. Currently I prefer to deal with a very select group of salespeople at Vistek and specifically always want to talk to a manager. Knowing who these people are is a matter of actually talking to them. But the managers have really proven themselves to care and that’s when I start to get really happy.

Vistek also carries a more diverse line of professional gear. Not only that but when I need something that they don’t even have/carry they can usually accommodate. Most cases in about a week I can pick up my random item that basically no one in Canada has ever sold (big win). They have a lot fewer locations and that kind of sucks, but they’re very capable of putting together orders without you ever having to step into the store. Their online selection of products is fairly diverse and I’ve really come to realize that before I look anywhere else, a conversation with one of my peeps at Vistek is usually the smartest thing to do. Buying online or direct from manufacturer can be awesome but you do have to pay import fees, duties and shipping. With a little patience I’m able to get those random things from Vistek and what’s more is that they handle the shipping/import fees. Perfect! Redrock, Kessler, Zeiss, Schneider, Teradek and many others are all brands that I’ve shopped online from in the past that Vistek carries and is finally willing to play ball with in terms of pricing. For a while it never made sense for me to shop at Vistek for those brands but of late I think Vistek is realizing they can’t offer something at a higher price just because they have a store when I can get it direct for way less from the manufacturer.

My recommendation is this: if you’re a pro in Canada, start a relationship with Vistek right away. Even if you’re not buying anything at the moment.. you’re going to be sooner or later. Say hi, speak to a manager, build a rapport. If you don’t feel like you’re being heard talk to someone else (that’s what I’ve done). It’s a great feeling knowing you’re going to get around XX% off of your purchase and that you can actually have someone help you with your buying. Of course you should still do your research and I can’t promise anyone anything as far as your dealing with Vistek. This is all just from some years worth of experience.

When it comes to pro gear, I’m going to be shopping at Vistek exclusively from now on.

David Dvir

**New-client premium: Having to prove yourself to a retailer before you can earn any negotiating power.

Do You Really Need to Bring Your Camera?

September 10th, 2013

As photographers and videographers we all pretty much have some sort of camera.  Whether it’s a DSLR or a mirror SLR or something else, most of us have at least one “go-to” to bring along with us in order to document our adventures.

Recently I traveled to Vancouver for a little mini-vacation and I asked myself “do I need a camera?”.  The thing is while B.C. is completely beautiful and the sights are just… well let’s just say everywhere you look is like a motivational poster you saw in school.  Still, does recording that myself really do anything for me?

I wondered whether or not it aids me to have a camera.  I mean if I want to check out the scenery there’s plenty of photos I can search Google for and have a look at.  Does it matter if I took them?  Instead of toting around a camera, no matter how small, and being conscious of if I managed to get the shot I want perhaps I would enjoy simply.. enjoying.  As in maybe it would be nice to just use my eyes and try and appreciate what’s in front of me rather than appreciate the screen in front of me with awesomeness in front of it.

Sometimes what makes something beautiful is that it was hard work to get there.  Hiking a mountain is though and you earned that view but your camera didn’t and neither did the photos you’re taking.  Nothing can replace the in-person experience and I’m beginning to feel that cameras are starting to make us forget that.  At the end of the day I’d rather breathe that mountain air, listen to the breeze and soar above the clouds looking down from some mountain high than look at the photo I took while I was there.

I’m going to make an effort to not take any pictures on my next trip(s).  I’m going to try to simply appreciate the wonders I see and if I ever want to see them again I might just have to go back ;)!

Dave Dvir

RED Epic Available for Rent in Toronto

July 26th, 2013

So we’ve been working on a lot of Rube Goldberg machine videos. Most of the time we’ve been renting either a RED Scarlet or Epic and to be honest it’s worked out great. These cameras are amazing and Rube Goldberg machines are inherently extremely difficult to shoot. There’s a lot of movement, sometimes extremely unpredictable movement, and most of the time we don’t get that many successful takes to choose from. Having our footage in 4K+ resolution means we can stabilize in post and it gives us a lot of room to manage our shooting. It also means we can shoot at a wider angle and narrow it down later. If not for their super high resolution we probably wouldn’t be renting REDs so often.

That being said, it’s come to the point where I decided that renting was great, but we are losing a percentage of revenue by renting so often. So we’ve purchased our own RED Epic with an outstanding line of support accessories. The luxury will be that we can scout earlier and more often for our videos and we also don’t have the added pressure of having to ensure the machine succeeds based on not wanting to rent a camera for another day or two.

The catch is while we will likely shoot our Rube Goldberg machines over the course of a few days or even up to a week at a time, there will be a lot of time during the year that we won’t be using the Epic. For shame. Such a wonderful piece of equipment shouldn’t be collecting dust. So we’re offering it for rental.

Not only that, but we’re offering it with all the accessories we’d normally be using. They aren’t needed for 2D House’s use unless we’re shooting a Rube Goldberg machine so we may as well include them all in what can only be described as the most awesomely ridiculous rental package in town.

Everything from T* Zeiss Lenses to wireless focus pull for your Steadicam operator and HD transmitter, audio gear and loads more. If you’re looking for a RED Epic in Toronto or the GTA, there’s really no better deal, or any deal that even comes close, to this one. We’ve also teamed up with one of our previous RED Scarlet Rental providers to be able to offer a Scarlet as well.

We hope that this camera won’t go unused but truthfully it’s a positive investment for us regardless. That’s why we’re renting it for so little. This package makes the camera and accessories available to filmmakers who wouldn’t normally have the budget for something like this and we hope we can share the awesomeness of the Epic and Scarlet with those creatives.

Hope to book your rental soon!

David Dvir

Which Way to Go?

June 2nd, 2013

It’s been an especially interested six months. There have been loads of developments and even more learning experiences. I find myself torn between paths and unsure which direction to follow. This is in no way a bad thing. This is fantastic! The only downside is I have been facing so many challenges I have become a little chocked up, clogged, if you will. With all the different options staring straight at me I have not decided which to focus on. It’s become obvios that while I wish I could act on all of them I must sacrifice some, or put them on hold.

Stuff coming soon.

Dave