Equipment Review #3 – The Secretlab Omega Gaming Chair

With lockdown 3.0 forcing most of my work to Development and Post Production I have been spending a lot more time in the studio and my back has been really suffering for it. Every time I do a long edit, or grading for a few hours I end up cursing my desk chair as pain shoots through my lower back and it wasn’t a cheap chair I think it was around €75 when I bought it.

So this spurred on a year long search for a new chair, mainly because good chairs are really expensive and I’d always talk myself out of spending that much money on a chair when I already have one.

I looked at a wide range of chairs from office to gaming chairs checking top ten lists and reviews and one chair that kept coming up was the Omega Gaming Chair by Secret Lab. It was consistently on every chair list I looked at going back a few years and had gotten great reviews. I was wary about it cause some said people were only getting it because they wanted it for the style rather then function. So I held off till December before making a decision.

So I ordered it on the 26th of December and this morning the chair finally arrived.

Secret Lab Delivery

The chair took some assembly but nothing too complicated and I had it built in under an hour.

Now to the important bit, the sitting.

I have to say it is very comfortable, the lumbar support pillow really hugs your back and seems to keep me sitting in a more upright position. The neck pillow has an elastic band that allows you to slip it onto the top of the chair and adjust its height. The arms rests are adjustable not just by height but move forward, back and rotate left and right. It reclines to almost 180 degrees and when you lean back the seat rocks backwards which is also tension adjustable so you can customise it to your weight.

The difference between it and my other chair is massive, no more lower back pain after hours at a desk. I know some people will say you should just buy a good office chair but when your studio / office is at home and you spend more time then most at your desk (and also some gaming) you really need one that you’re going to be happy with and I am very happy with this investment.

Lets see if I’m still happy in a few months

Secretlab Omega Gaming Chair

December Update 2020

Well I think it’s safe to say it’s been an overall shit of a year but there’s been a lot of positives it’s over now. After a busy winter season a nice quiet Christmas was very welcome. It’s been a while since I’ve posted so here are a few things I meant to post about but didn’t get around to:

As a factory driver for Colourlab Ai I did a video testimonial outlining one of the ways I use the platform to optimise my workflow. It really is a fantastic program and I’m excited to be using it along with Look Designer 2.0 on my next project but more on that later.

I’ve got to work alongside some amazing people on Other Voices in Dingle and in the Storehouse and shot some amazing music with Jameson Connects. I was blown away by the serious amount of Irish talent out there it was a nice pick-me-up of a job and I even went so far as to buy a physical album from one of the artists.

https://www.youtube.com/user/OtherVoicesLive

There were many more shoots that were all great fun but too many to mention and some I can’t anyway.

I was very happy with the results of my multi-exposure expired film experiment the method really give some interesting results that you just wouldn’t get with a digital camera. I’ll definitely be exploring this method further next year, I still have three rolls of it to develop so god knows what’s going to come out of that. I’ll be putting the prints up for sale in the new year so there’ll be a link appearing on the website soon.

We’ve had to shut down for the holidays (mainly cause everyone else did and I can’t get much done aside from project development with everywhere closed – covid didn’t help there either) So I’ll be doing inventory of my gear while it’s quiet and seeing if there’s anything don’t use anymore that can go up for sale and what new bits I need to get, cause as we all know the gear list never ends. I’m looking forward to getting shooting again and working on new projects so happy new year, stay safe and lets hope 2021 gets better and better.

Drones, Docs and Dojos

So we’re entering another week of lockdown and people are getting frustrated and stressed, I’m not going to suggest what people should be doing or things to do to keep positive or anything like that, everyones circumstances are different and there is no one fits all . But on the upside the film industry is working and there appears to be a lot of work out there.

Things do seem to be very last minute and a lot of stuff is being rescheduled and pushed back even as I write this another shoot I’m on has been moved for the third time but the industry is moving and that’s not nothing.

So what have I been doing since my last post. Well, not a huge amount to be honest there’s been a few day work on Dramas and corporates but a lot of them keep getting moved due to the current situation. So to keep myself sane I have been going for evening runs and learning how to play Dungeons and Dragons. Anyway back to the film stuff, I took my drone out to soldiers point and the Cooly mountains for a practice run then brought the footage into Davinci Resolve and used Lookdesigner by colour lab to try out different looks

And when not shooting stock footage on my drone or working on corporates or dramas, I’ve been working on a few personal projects. The edit for my documentary “In The Shadow of The Bull” is very close to being locked. This doc has taken me years to get near the end of and has broken my heart more then once but it’s nearly there, we’re about to enter the scoring and grading phase and I’m looking forward to getting it out there. Hopefully there’ll even be an “in person” festival run.

A Still from interview with Alex Meehan of the Namiryu Dojo

I’ve also started a new project, a documentary on martial arts namely Bujinkan with the Bujinkan Namiryu Dojo. The Doc is about the evolution of the art from ancient Japan to modern day, it’s place in western and modern society and the people who study the art. I have been training there for four years now and aside this is a subject I am passionate about it’s more then an excuse to study more about the art. Last Wednesday I shot an interview with Alex Meehan the Sensei of the dojo which was absolutely fascinating. here is a still from the shoot showing the RAW Footage from the RED Scarlet Dragon and the LUT I designed for it in Davinci Resolve. The LUT is a Kodak5217 Vision 2 200T film stock emulation printed on 2398 modern stock. ( +4 C, 0 M, -3 Y).

For more info on current projects or to discuss new ones feel free to get in touch. I’m always looking for things to shoot or colour, I’m especially interested in shooting more drama at the moment.

fionagraham@singlecellfilms.com

Metal Gigs, Calibrations and new Studios

This Sunday sees the release of Saor’s Lockdown Live Gig which I had the pleasure of editing. Like all bands during this pandemic The Scottish folk metal band headed by Andy Marshal have seen all their gigs and tours cancelled this year so they’ve decided to record a one hour multi camera live gig in Audio, Glasgow.

The will be going out live across Facebook, Twitch, and YouTube simultaneously Sunday 18th October 19:30 (BST)

Facebook – www.facebook.com/saorofficial

YouTube – www.youtube.com/c/fortriuproductions

Twitch – www.twitch.tv/fortriuproductions

I’ve had the pleasure of working with the lads before when I shot their music video Bròn which currently sits at 422,061 views, definitely the most watched video I’ve ever made.

I have to say the lads are so nice and an absolute pleasure to work with and Saors music is amazing. Looking forward to watching the gig as it goes out, I hope it goes really well for them and the fans like it.

It’s great to see musicians playing again and I always love working on musical project so if anyone has any ideas that could help the musical community film or video wise feel free to get in touch.

In other news this week I just got back from Galway working on a show that shall remain nameless for now to settle back into a nice, relaxed bit of editing only to find I needed to recalibrate my monitors again. They seems to be slipping much quicker then they used to. At the moment I am using a Datacolor SpyderX Pro to calibrate my monitors but instead of doing it monthly I find I am having to do it at least once a week.

Datacolor SpyderX Pro

Thats not to say there is anything wrong with the device, the SpyderX Pro is very good, surprisingly quick and accurate. It’s also small enough that I don’t mind packing it into my bags when travelling. The fault is more with the monitors age, it just ends to slip quicker these days.

Im hoping soon to be able to afford a Flanders Scientific monitor but at the moment it is a little out of my price range.

Anyway in film news Sky High Productions are opening a new studio in Drogheda called “Rippin Studios”. It’s in the construction stages at the moment but will be opening soon to anyone who needs a sound stage. In the link below you can see Seán talking about it and giving a little tour of the space.

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1411615779049038

October Update

So it’s been an interesting few weeks, It seems like I’ve been saying that a lot and I keep thinking of that old Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times” but it is none the less true. Dublins gone back into lockdown and it looks like the rest of the country is going to follow but sure we’ll keep going the best we can. If they do shut everything down again I’ll be sure to be out with the drone.

Since my last update I’ve had two shoots assisting the lovely people at Tiny Ark, Submitted two projects to Tg4’s Ignite program, edited one promotional trailer, Finished editing a live gig for a band in Scotland (more on that later) and gotten back to work on my doc on the legacy of The Field “In The shadow of the Bull”.

The Ignite Scheme looks interesting. “The scheme is project-led, and will support the progression of the selected projects and their teams, through training that will focus on the development process of documentary, from inception to exhibition. The scheme will foster a new generation of non-fiction creative documentary talent from all over the island of Ireland to pursue their first or second feature, and to provide them with a platform to develop the spectrum of skills and knowledge required to succeed as a feature documentary filmmaker on an international level.” So it looks like the selected film makers will get much more out of it than just funding, fingers crossed we get at least one project in. Not sure what the notification date is.

Anyway one thing I have been very happy with lately is three new pieces of software I have been working with called Look Designer 2.0, Grain Lab and Colour Lab AI. I had mentioned in previous posts that I was doing grading courses taught by Dado Valentic and part of that course was we got to beta test these pieces of software. The first two are plugins for DaVinci Resolve while the third is a stand alone program and I would highly recommend them to anyone who does their own grading. Check out the link below for more information on them.

https://colourlab.ai/look-designer/

Three of the shots in these pictures (Taken from the promo for the Doc “Searching for Maria”) were shot on the Sony A7sii and three of them were shot on the RED Dragon. They were graded using Look Designer 2.0 emulating Kodak 5217 Vision 2 200T film stock printed on a 2398 Modern Negative.

I’ll be trying out Colour Lab AI on the next project I shoot so hopefully Covid won’t postpone it too long.

An Interesting Few Weeks

So it’s been an interesting few weeks, spending some time in a remote part of the country I thought would be great for getting my course work done in a relaxing setting while spending some time with my family.

Day one the phone mast in the village went down knocking out both phone and internet for four days, so no chance to get any work done in the first few days, (for some people this would be relaxing but the stress of falling behind or to getting something done is not good for me). On top of that later in the week the muffler box on my car detached from the exhaust and my car spent the night in a garage and my phone went for a swim in the sea because while stand-in knee deep in water I just had to take a photo.

Back to Dublin and I then managed to give myself a black eye after a shoot trying to fold a 6 foot collapsible back drop, not easy when you’re 5’3. And after another shoot on Thursday I can relax into the weekend and focus on some editing and colour grading.

So what’s new. I finally sold my Ephonix MC colour grading control surface and have replaced it with the Ripple Tangent. There are a number of reasons for this, the main one being that the MC Colour is not compatible with Premier Pro and that is my main editing software. Avid and Adobe just do not get on.

Ripple Tangent

Reason number 2 is that the tangent is portable and runs off USB so it’ll be easy to have on set or when I need to get work done and travel and reason number three is it works great with Davinci which I use for colour grading and I have to say I am incredibly happy with it. Here is a few looks I created last week while using it.

Fiona graham, colourist, duo tone look, colour grade presentation
Duo Tone Look – Fiona Graham
Fiona Graham, Colourist, muted colour isolation look, colour grade presentation
Mued Colour Isolation Look – Fiona Graham
Colour grade based on film spectre,
Fiona Graham Colourist, Colour Grade Presentation
Warm Tones (Based on the film Spectre) – Fiona Graham

I’ll be offering 3D LUT design and Look design and presentation on my website soon but more on that later.

3D LUT and Look Design

Ok so today I am launching an updated website, Ive got a new logo which I’m much happier with but more importantly I’ve added a section to include a new service. Grading, 3D LUT and Look design

So what does this mean. I’ve decided I’m going to open up some of the work I do on my own Cinematography to the public, if they want to avail of it. These days colour management is so important and with budget and time constraints it can easily get swept aside but colour effects how your clients and viewers perceive and feel about your work. This applies to all audio visual projects from features to adverts, music videos, docs, anything.

All cameras have a ‘look’ or ‘LUT’ (look up table) that they apply to the footage they shoot. It’s one of the reasons people will argue for one camera over another. However the majority of cameras these days give you the ability to shoot in RAW which is a flat image with no ‘look’ on it, the reason people shoot in Raw is because it gives you more options in post including more ability to control the look of the image. You don’t want your end product to look like everyone else’s.

A Show LUT is a single LUT designed to control the look of a film, TV show or whatever project you are doing. It is used on set to monitor the colour and look of your production and insure your look is consistent. It is then used in post as the basis for your grade.

For Camera people there are plenty of LUT packs that you can buy out there but they’re generally a ‘one size fits all’, they tend to not give you really good film stock emulation or truly get the look you want. I can design custom LUTS based on the camera you are shooting on and catered specifically to the look you want.

The way this process works is that you will come to me looking for a look, LUT or colour space designed for your project. I will talk to you about the look you are going for we will discuss the tone and feel of the project, reference images and intended delivery.

I will then present it to you in the following format:

If you are at the point that you are just building your pitch or presentation these are a great addition to you look book.

Once we work out any tweaks or changes to the look I will then reissue this presentation along with the reference images and two .cube files, a 65 and a 33. (The 33 is for uploading to your camera and monitors for on set monitoring and the 65 is only for post as 65 is too big a file for on set monitoring but they are the same LUT)

It is important to have a LUT that is 100% correct because it needs to give you the look that you want without effecting the exposure of the camera.

This is a process I use for every project I shoot and it really does make a difference.

If you have any questions or queries email me at fionagraham@singlecellfilms.com

Upgrading My Grading

grading wheels, colour wheels, davinci
Colour Grading Wheels

Ok so my last blog post got deleted so ill try to rewrite it as was, with a few minor corrections,

So With Covid slowing everything down I’ve decided to to take a course while I still have the time. This time I’ve decided to go with the ‘Summer Looks Academy’ with https://www.colour.training/ taught by Dado Valentic.

I first met Dado in London at a REDucation course in CVP. I was looking for a course to help improve my cinematography and thought learning everything there is to know about the camera I was shooting on was a good place to start. Dado was the guest speaker on the second and third day who was coming in to talk to us about Colour Science.

During this talk he said something that caught my attention. “If you were to look at the sun without the ozone layer it would actually appear as a shade of green not yellow, The ozone layer acts like a filter and the reason that the sun changes colour as it sets is that the density of the “filter” between you and the sun increases as it sets”. This was connected to the reason that there are twice as many green photocites in a cameras sensor then blue or red because the purpose of the sensor is to capture as much light as possible. When I heard this I thought ‘this is what I should be learning’ and a few months later I returned to London to do my first course with Colour Training in Colour Managment.

After we were presented with our certificates a few of us went to the pub where I nearly lost my certificate when it caught fire in the smoking area but that’s a different story.

This time I’m hoping to delve deeper into the design of Looks and LUTs and create some cool LUTS. I’m excited about doing the course, I really want to develop a look for a film or series from scratch and see it come to life on screen rather then do it all in post but I’m also nervous cause there are some really heavy hitters in the group that work on really big projects. 

Anyway lets see how it goes.