At home on the bleeding edge.

In March, I had the opportunity to try out a prototype of the FOR-A FT-ONE 4k camera which can capture up to 900 fps super-slow motion at 4k resolution.  For illumination, I tried out plasma lights from Hive Lighting.

My main goal with this shoot was to originate some footage, get acquainted with the camera and to try out Plasma lights, which are flicker-free to several million frames per second and have double the power efficiency of HMI lighting.

I shot a little table top setup.  I used a Wasp Plasma Par for a backlight and a Killer Two Light Plasma maxi in front with some diff to light it.  The power draw was under 800 watts and the lights could be handled without gloves.

For reference, the last high-speed shoot I did, used about 60,0000 Watts of tungsten lighting.  I also spent a couple weeks worrying about flicker and a whole shoot feeling like I was inside an oven.  With the Hive plasma lights, I plugged them into the wall and never once saw a hint of flicker.  The Hive Plasmas are by far the best artificial lighting instruments I've used for high-speed imaging.

I shot at 830 fps, 1/2000 shutter with a Zeiss 85mm SuperSpeed lens at an aperture of 4/5.6. The camera has an ISO rating of 640 and always shoots 4k.  It also offers a 1080/60i or 1080/50i monitor feed.  It can do simultaneous playback and recording.

The FT-ONE has a super 35mm sensor and PL lens mount which is is highly suitable for the work I typically do. It can run off AC power or V-mount batteries.

The camera held it's black point very well, which is often a concern with high frame-rate cameras.  Recalibrating the black balance was easy and very fast.

The camera does not have the exposure tools I typically use built-in, so next time I'll use a monitor that does.

The breakout box made setup and operation of the camera a breeze.

Rolling at a 1/2000 exposure time still requires significant amount of illumination.  I lit for this camera test using around 750 Watts of power from an ordinary household circuit.

Example footage - FT-ONE camera, 830fps, 1/2000 sec exposure time, 4/5.6 aperture, 85mm Zeiss Super Speed lens.  Please note that this web video is taken from the cameras 1080/60i monitor feed with a frame rate conversion to 1080/24p which did result in some motion artifacts.

iOS apps for Cinematography

Over the past few years, my iPhone and iPad have become indispensable tools.  Here's some of the apps I find useful.


Artemis Director's Viewfinder - Not the same as looking though the lens but very useful nonetheless.  I use it extensively on tech scouts and a fair amount on set.

pCAM - My go to camera reference and calculation app. It's got everything.  One day I was trying to plan an underwater shot with a housing that had a flat front port.  I needed to know what the magnification factor would be.  I wondered if it pCAM had that.  It did.

Helios - Comprehensive sun position software.

MovieSlate - As long as I'm not shooting day exteriors, I always have a slate and an insert slate in a pinch. I primarily use it to take camera notes because it has several good export options.


ColorWheel HD - Great tool for talking about color with directors and production designers and for setting up color palettes.

myPANTONE - Another nice tool for collaborating with regards to color.

Location Scouting

Panascout - Not the greatest app, but I still use it for sentimental reasons.

MapCamera - Nice when running around town looking at lots of different spots.

MagicPlan - Good for measuring a room when I don't have a measuring tape handy.

SunSeeker - Sun position software - I prefer Helios, but SunSeeker is cheaper.


KnotsGuide - Fun with rope.

TechScout Pro - Can be used to generate lighting lists.  Fun to browse.

ALEXA Pocket

Kodak Cinema Tools

Moviola Camera Guide - Lots of good reference info and can also be used to generate camera equipment lists.


Toland - I don't use this app much, but it's pretty decent for taking camera notes and calculating exposure, filter factors, DoF, etc.

Cine Meter - While I don't rely on it's accuracy, I find the display easy to use when I need to discuss exposure with a director or production designer while walking around set.


MovieLooks & VideoGrade - a couple apps that can do some basic color grading and video filters.  Useful for generating a quick & dirty look when the director asks something like "What would this look like with a bleach bypass?"


Shot Designer - Useful for generating overheads.

BizXpensTrkr - I use it for logging mileage and expenses.  I don't love it but haven't found a better one yet.

Dropbox - I put .pdf camera manuals there for easy access along with visual reference materials, storyboards and scripts related to current projects.

Videos - It's nice to always have my demo reel with me.

GarageBand - Good if one needs a click track for a dance sequence.  I've also used it to drive a subwoofer covered with a swimming cap to launch paint and powders into the air for some high-speed work.  That's fun because rather than saying "roll camera" we say "drop that bass."