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Canon XL1S / XL1 Watchdog
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Old September 6th, 2001, 05:45 PM   #1
New Boot
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
Posts: 21
What is a matte box, bellows and such for?

Hi all!

I would like to know what the use for a matte box, eyebrow, lens bellows, rails, and follow focus system is? I realise that a matte box is so you can put filters in it, and I guess the eyebrow is simply a shade. So are the lens bellows another shade, and what are the rails and focus follow system for?

The best photos of all this is under the NAB2001: CineTech link in the images area.

If anyone knows of a good site with more info on how film cams and all their gear works and what it is used for that would be a great help!

Cheers, and thanks!
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Old September 7th, 2001, 09:04 AM   #2
Obstreperous Rex
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: San Marcos, TX
Posts: 26,257
Images: 513
Hi Mark,

The primary job of the matte box is to control light. Originally it was used to hold mattes, or cutouts, to sort of fake an image composition. For instance, you might have a matte that looks like an old castle or something, if you needed that kind of image. It's a lot easier to fake a castle with a small cardboard cutout or glass painting than it is to go find a real one. These days though, matte boxes are generally used to hold filters. Filters come in all kinds of colors and gradations, the most common are 4" x 4" or 3" x 3" and some matte boxes can hold two or three of these at once, and let you rotate one or two of them.

An eyebrow shade just blocks sunlight or set lights from hitting the camera lens. Also you can fold an eyebrow down over a matte box when you're not shooting, to protect the filters from dust, etc.

Rails are often used to hold a matte box up to a lens. If a matte box is fairly heavy, you don't want to hang that weight from the lens itself and risk damage. Also, some lenses have rotating front elements, where if you adjust focus, the whole front of the lens turns. If your matte box was attached to the lens, the whole box would turn with it! Very uncool. So the rails take the weight of the matte box and hold it in place.

A follow focus mechanism allows you to finely adjust manual focus on a lens which has geared teeth on the focus ring. Usually there's a big white disk around the follow focus where you can mark focus points for your shot. The follow focus mechanism mounts to the rails and just provides a very precise way to control focus with a manual focus lens.

All these tools have specific uses and primarily come from the film industry. They generally lend themselves to a better looking production by allowing careful, precise control of light and lens. Of course, they're quite expensive, but they sure look cool. So in addition to serving certain purposes, they also make you and your camera look ten times more expensive and professional than without them. How you actually *use* these tools, though, is what really counts. Hope this helps,
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Old September 8th, 2001, 09:00 PM   #3
New Boot
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
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Hi there!

Thanks for the info. It helped alot.

I sort of figured about the matt boxes and the eyebrow bit, but I just wanted to make sure.

I know there is a job now for Digital Matte Artists... hehe bye bye painting on glass...

Can you tell me how much (just for interst) all that gear is from CineTech?

Cheers!
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Old October 8th, 2001, 06:51 PM   #4
nbpjaroch7
 
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Thanks Chris!

I too appreciate the info on the mattebox/follow focus system. I am looking forward to kitting up my XL1-S with these accessories.

I've tried contacting Cinetech, but get no reply.
Any ideas or alternatives?

Thanks!
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