Curtis & Jordin Wiklund, A Husband and Wife Photography Team in Birmingham, Michigan, specializing in weddings, high school senior pictures, family portraits, and lifestyle photography.
Hi, my name is Curtis Wiklund. I dream a lot and have a beautiful wife named Jordin. We shoot film and digital weddings and portraits all over the place. If you'd like to receive an email notice when I post new projects on this blog, you can subscribe with your email address in the space to the right. If you'd like to hire us to take your pictures, please visit our contact page. Thanks! ...more about us here!
For those who like learning about film: This was a “hybrid shoot” with a digital camera (5D III) and a film camera (Contax 645). Because the Contax 645 shoots medium format film where each frame is 6″x4.5″ (hence the name Contax 645), anything with a 6:4.5 aspect ratio (or 3:4) is film. Anything that is 2:3 in this shoot is digital. I like making film and digital flow well together. What is funny is how long it takes in editing to get the digital pictures to flow well with film, while I spent zero time editing the film pictures. Both mediums have their merits though. I get more spontaneous moments on digital when I blast three shots in a row during a sweet moment. I am not concerned with overshooting and therefore I can catch the split second moment that I may have not otherwise shot on film. On film, I tend to only shoot when I know it will be good because each shot costs money. In effect, nearly all of my film pictures look awesome, require very little sorting or editing, but with digital, I may catch something special. More and more I am learning to catch these moments on film, learning to anticipate them in ways I haven’t had to when shooting only digital. Shooting film is forcing me to be a better photographer, and I love it. I will probably never abandon digital all together though, because I love pushing the front edge of technology to make art, and like I said it has many merits of its own for photography, not even considering the many terabytes of HD home videos I have shot on our 5D. Those are priceless memories that I could not have gotten on film.
Jordin and I are planning an overseas trip this winter, and I will probably bring my 35mm rangefinder (Zeiss Ikon ZM) for most photos and our 5D for home videos around the place we stay. This has been my latest “go-to” for our personal work, and I usually also bring the Contax 645 to engagements and weddings for the big pretty smeary pictures. For styled shoots, I typically shoot all film (Zeiss Ikon + Contax645 + EOS-3).
Standing in a four-way conversation with Hugh Jackman, Shawn Levy, and Glenn Derry, I was thrilled and a little star-struck. Shawn, most notably was the director of Date Night and Cheaper By The Dozen, Hugh Jackman the Wolverine in X-Men to name a role, and Glenn Derry INVENTED the technology used on Avatar (more details on that below). These are the big wigs. I was basically mute any time we talked as a group, just taking instructions, but I got to work on the floor and watch Shawn’s every move, talk with Glenn and his assistant cameraman about the lenses they use and the amazing real-time motion tracking (more below), and even chatted over lunch with Hugh about Michigan and coffee. Bragging? Hardly. What will be ingrained in my mind as some of the most exciting interactions of my life, will likely go unremembered by these industry mega-forces. Oh well, on to the techie stuff!
My first day, I walked into the Cobo Arena downtown Detroit, where a huge artificial boxing ring had been built for fighting robots. It was surrounded by about 20 rows of fans, and behind them, a green screen wrapped around the wall. This green screen would be replaced in editing with a colosseum full of thousands of cheering fans.
A clip of Cobo Arena during production:
A clip of Cobo as the final Real Steel arena:
While shooting the fight scenes, no actual robots were on the boxing ring stage. The robots would be added in post-production. Therefore, Josh Mclaglen, the assistant director, had to wave around a baton with an orange ball on the end to show the crowd where to look and where to cheer. This is where the robots would eventually be once animated.
This all made sense to me. What I saw next didn’t, and it blew my mind.
I walked over and saw the video monitor that Shawn Levy (the director) was watching. On his screen, he saw the crowd, the boxing ring, AND the actual robots fighting, and the thousands of rows of artificial fans! It looked like the final movie. Now this may not be that exciting to those who understand how green screens work and how pre-recorded animations can be composited over live action footage (even in real time), but… THE CAMERAMEN WERE MOVING! All over! The cameramen were like ballerinas on the boxing ring, dancing from corner to corner, and the “virtual camera” that was showing the super-imposed virtual robots was following the exact movements of the cameramen! Each camera had red or white tracking points on it, and there was a huge ring of 20-30 mini-cameras around the ceiling that were tracking the main cameras!
I wish I had pictures of it. Basically, on Shawn’s screen, they were making a movie in real time. There were boxing robots, thousands of fans, and everything was being color corrected in another room in real time. It was like the director could see the final product of a mixed CGI and live-action movie AS THEY WERE SHOOTING IT!
This blew my mind for multiple reasons. First, it’s changing the way we can shoot movies that mix animation and live-action. Second, it opens up a whole new industry, where animations can be interacting with real people in real time. Imagine going to see live theater, but there are huge projected screens that have animated movie scenes that interact with the live actors. One moment, you think you’re watching a movie, the next it’s happening live, and the next, the two are interacting in real-time.
I’d like to think that this could be the future of our entertainment. I hope this is inspiring for you to think about; storytelling experiences that are as powerful and engaging as today’s best movies but are actually happening right in front of you. It’s a much advanced version of something else I’ve been very excited about. I posted a drawing a while back of my thesis concept, a live movie musical. It’s beginning to take shape! I hope it won’t be long before I begin posting about it.
Thanks for indulging my excitement in this movie. I honestly have no idea if it is good, because I haven’t seen it! I plan to soon. And by the way, my brother in law Davey was the runner up for the lead part. I was there to see the acting scenes… Davey should’ve gotten it… just sayin’
For all you EXTRA-techies, continue on for more on motion tracking and behind the scenes!
Real Steel Motion Tracking
Here, you can see the markers attached to the camera for the realtime camera tracking, which makes “realtime previs” (pre-visualizing animation during production) a reality.
This is the device used for realtime color grading. (It’s a “DaVinci Resolve”)
This is Shawn and the mega digital camera (the whole movie was shot digitally, which is required for PreVis).
Let’s take a break from our photography and my media projects to have a TECH TALK! I’ve been wondering whether a full-frame sensor camera would really make that big of a difference in our photography. So I rented a 5d mark II to compare to our 7D and other crop-sensor cameras. Hopefully this will help someone else trying to figure out how a full-frame would actually affect their photography.
First, a brief lesson on crop-sensors:
All Canon dSLRs with a model number higher than 5 (ie- 7D, 60D, all Rebels, etc) have crop-sensors. A crop-sensor crops the image of a full-frame sensor by a factor of 1.6. This means a 35mm lens on a crop-sensor camera actually looks more like a 50mm lens on a full-frame camera (35mm * 1.6 = 56mm). The 5D mkII and the 5D mkIII are both full frame cameras.
This is the exact same lens on the 7D, then on the 5D:
Yeah yeah, I knew that. HERE’S WHAT I WAS WONDERING: “Could I achieve the look of a full-frame camera by simply using wider lenses on my 7D crop-sensor camera? What would be the difference?”
Below, I tried to match the look of a 35mm 1.4L lens on a Canon 5d by using a 17-55mm 2.8 lens on a Canon 7D and zooming in to about 22mm (22mm * 1.6 = 35mm). Then I tried to match the depth of field by leaving the 17-55mm at f/2.8 and stopping the 35mm down to f/4.0. It seemed pretty close. Here’s the result:
To some, the difference may be indistinguishable. To me, it was eye-opening… literally, like my eye was never open all the way. Those who have upgraded to a full-frame sensor know what I’m talking about. I was wandering around our condo with the 5D pressed against my face feeling like, “All these years I’ve never seen the world through a camera the way it’s supposed to be seen!” It was as though I had been wearing horse blinders every time I had put a camera to my face… like someone had cropped off my peripheral!
Do you see how in the second image, everything appears to be very square, and in the first one, it all seems to be a little warped? See how the background is “smaller” in the first one? This is what happens when you use a wider lens. An extremely wide lens is called a fisheye and does this warping a lot. Using a 1.6 crop-sensor on a 22mm focal length lens does not turn it into a 35mm lens. It just crops a 22mm! You still have the same warping effect of using that wider lens, which is not very attractive on humans. It is impossible to exactly match the focal length look of a full frame camera by using a wider lens on a crop-sensor camera like the 7D.
That said, you don’t always need to match the focal length look of a full frame camera. In our own business, we’ve used mostly longer lenses, and have never used a full frame camera! The wider angle lenses on a full-frame body is just a look that, as we are growing in our style, we personally find beautiful, and we are excited about incorporating it into our future work. Explaining what that “look” is, requires an entire post of its own. This one was simply to answer my own question: No, you cannot achieve the look of a full-frame camera simply by placing a wider lens on a crop-sensor camera.