How I Shot An Entire Feature Film on Sigma Art Lenses

Grandmother’s Gold, a movie by Brian Jordan Alvarez, who you might recognize from the season finale of the first  new season of Will & Grace, recently made waves on the internet and in the film making world. The full-length comedy feature was released for free on YouTube, racking up over 100,000 views in under a week. Though the film covers over 25 different locations and 190 setups, the director of photography Jordan McKittrick used only two lenses: the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Art and the Sigma 50-100mm F1.8 Art lenses.

© 2018 Brian Jordan Alvarez | Still from feature film Grandmother’s Gold | Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Art Lens | Arri Alexa Mini

Continue reading How I Shot An Entire Feature Film on Sigma Art Lenses

5 Tips for Low Budget Filmmaking

If you’re a director of photography hoping to shoot a micro-budget movie as efficiently as possible, there are ways to plan ahead and achieve every bit of production value you can. I learned most of these tricks while filming my most recent feature, the surrealist comedy Grandmother’s Gold (written and directed by Brian Jordan Alvarez), which you can watch for free HERE.

© 2018 Jordan McKittrick | Still from feature film Grandmother’s Gold | Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Art Lens | Arri Alexa Mini

Continue reading 5 Tips for Low Budget Filmmaking

Dogwood Pass: Indy Budget filmmaking with the Sigma 18-35mm T2 and 50-100mm T2 High-Speed Zoom lenses

Cinematographer Chuck France explains how the Sigma 18-35mm T2 and 50-100mm T2 High-Speed Zoom lenses helped create the distinctive look and feel of Dogwood Pass: The Series on an incredibly tight budget and timeline.

February 4th this year I awoke to snow hitting the ground about two hours East of Cincinnati, Ohio, it was an early call time. I stepped outside to see my director, Lana Read, coming down a hill all bundled up, “Good morning” I said. She smiled and said, “Good morning” I said, “No, good morning and it’s 15 degrees outside!” This was the first day of shooting a pilot episode for the Western drama, Dogwood Pass: The Series. Directed by Lana Read, written by Brian Dobbins, Dogwood Pass is an independent ambitious period piece. It stars the incomparable Michael Pare, from Eddie and The Cruisers, Streets of Fire, The Lincoln Lawyer, Gone, The Virgin Suicides and a host of other movie and television credits.

Dogwood Pass TV Series Promo starring Michael Pare´ from Chuck France on Vimeo.

I had spoken with Lana early on and had formulated a plan to get the project shot in a fast and efficient manner. We had five days to deliver an hour long pilot episode of sixty four pages. A Western with period costumes, horses, lots of extras, the first day almost all exteriors, means there were lots of moving parts. You must plan for all those things if you want a successful shoot, it certainly was a lot to bite off in short period of time. With a large amount of pages in 5 days, it was essential that all the actors were prepared, which they were, and also required a crew and cast working long hours. We had long days on this set. My team consisted of myself as cinematographer, one camera operator, a first AC, a DIT, a gaffer, a best boy and two grips. We had to shoot single camera coverage, almost all handheld verite style with little fussing about with lens swaps and infinite lens choices. We would have to go zooms on the Red Scarlet-W. I choose the Sigma Cine series zooms to accomplish our, what seemed impossible, task.

The Sigma 50-100mm T2 lens on set.

Continue reading Dogwood Pass: Indy Budget filmmaking with the Sigma 18-35mm T2 and 50-100mm T2 High-Speed Zoom lenses

Telephoto Compression with the Sigma 150-600mm DG OS HSM | Sports lens

The other day I was contacted by an outdoor magazine to shoot a cover. The only info I received on what they wanted was that this was for the “Mountain” issue and to get creative. Going on that small amount of intel I decided to get a shot that I have been thinking about for the last few summers. But it was only with the addition of the Sigma 150-600 Sports lens to my kit that this shot was even possible..why? Supertelephoto compression! To get the shot I envisioned I needed some serious telephoto compression, a visual effect which can create big-impact imagery.

I like this image and it sets the scene nicely but it is not quite what I was looking for. Jeff and the tent are small in the picture and the Peaks are not “pulled in” very much. I was at the lens’s widest setting of 150mm. Canon 1DX with 150-600 S 1/1000sec. f/8 ISO 640

Here is the setup: every summer as I return from fishing some high alpine lakes I notice this hilltop to the side of the trail with two Massive fourteeners (Grays Peak 14,270ft and Torreys 14,267) some 21 miles in background! Continue reading Telephoto Compression with the Sigma 150-600mm DG OS HSM | Sports lens

Behind the Shot: Ski’s Eye View of Monument Valley

This photo appears in the December 2015 issue of Powder Magazine, made with the Sigma 12-24mm lens atop my car! Photo © Liam Doran / Powder Magazine

I was about to leave on assignment shooting ski areas in New Mexico and Arizona for Powder Magazine and I was worried.  It had not snowed for weeks and conditions were far from ideal.  The editor and I had talked about it and we decided to go through with the shoot regardless . While I would still have to come back with solid ski action photography we would also lean heavily on the travel and story telling imagery to round out the package. Looking at the maps I realized that on my way to Arizona Snowbowl from Summit County, Colorado, I would have to pass through Monument Valley.  I wanted to improve upon the ultra cliché shot (standard view down the road to Monument Valley) with a fresh perspective.  I knew exactly the shot I would create to make it my own. To put my own stamp as a skier and ski photographer on this scene.

Here is the shot of the approach to Monument Valley that has been made thousands upon thousands of times.

Once I got to the top of the Monument Valley Road I pulled over and got set up.  I mounted my Canon 5DMKII and Sigma 12-24 4.5-5.6 lens on top of my car.  I used a Manfrotto carbon fiber tripod and 055 Magnesium ball head to keep my gear safe and steady.  I composed the frame so that I would see the skis on top of my car and also the surrounding landscape.  Finally I attached my wireless remote trigger to the camera and began driving through the desert landscape.

Canon 5D Mark II and Sigma 12-24mm lens mounted atop my Manfrotto carbon fiber tripod and secured to the rack.

I wanted the roadside to be blurred to show movement into the scene but I also wanted the background landscape and ski tips to be sharp.  Using the ultrawide 12-24 lens focused at the ski tips and a shutterspeed of 1/30 sec allowed me to do this.  ISO was at 100 and aperture at f/14 to maximize depth of field and total image sharpness.

The view from behind the camera.
Testing the wireless remote and depth of field with me in the frame.

Then it was time to make the shot. Rolling down the road at about 50 MPH, I triggered the camera with the remote several times and nailed the shot I was hoping for.

It’s a bit risky for the world’s top ski magazine to run a shot of skis travelling through the desert as the opener, but I’m glad they did…and it’s great to see a previsualized shot come to life just as you imagined it!

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