Radiant Images Shows Off the Palm-sized Novo Camera at Digital Day Event

LA-based rental house and digital cinema innovator also presents new detailed camera comparison and evaluation tool at Digital Day 2013

Radiant Images Shows Off the Palm-sized Novo Camera at Digital Day Event

Radiant Images needed just five minutes to prove to members of the Directors Guild of America that when it comes to the new palm-sized Novo digital cinema camera, anything is possible.

The LA-based rental house and digital cinema innovator created a series of innovative shots showcasing the Novo’s abilities and versatility as part of the DGA’s Digital Day 2013 on July 27 in Los Angeles.

The featured presentation by Radiant Images, made at the request of the DGA’s Special Project Committee, provided visual proof to assembled filmmakers of the endless possibilities of Radiant’s newNovo. In the clip, the tiny camera is rigged to a drone, guided on a track inside a moving car, attached to the wheel of a skateboard for a flip and mounted under a turtle – all the while capturing clear, crisp images. View Radiant’s presentation here.

The Novo (www.novocamera.com), developed by Radiant Images and View Factor Studios, is built with a GoPro sensor but offers key cinematic features. The camera, which weighs just 3.2 ounces and fits in the palm of the hand, includes a C-mount lens system plus a PL mount adapter, back focus adjustment, and exposure control capabilities that open up a wide-range of artistic possibilities for cinematographers and camera operators.

The Novo has been well received since its February release, used in such upcoming feature films as Transformers 4Ten and Need for Speed as well as NBC’s Revolution. The camera also won aMARIO Award for innovation at NAB 2013. The Novo is available for rental only at Radiant Images in the U.S. and European rental partner P+S Technik.

For Digital Day 2013, the DGA’s Randal Kleiser (Grease, The Blue Lagoon, Honey I Blew Up the Kids, White Fang), asked Radiant Images to come up with challenging shots that would be very difficult with any other camera and then show the results to members.

Here’s a shot-by-shot breakdown of what Radiant created:


For the first shot, Radiant Images worked with Ty Evans of Brain Farm Cinema, one of the leading skateboard directors and photographers in the world. Radiant set out to determine the most difficult shots the experienced Evans could imagine – and then resolving them.

Evans indicated that he got a lot of visual distortion, such as a fish-eye look, when trying to mount other small form factor cameras to skateboards. The versatility of the Novo floored him during the two hours spent shooting in an LA park, Mansouri said.

The Novo was mounted to the body of a skateboard – on top and underneath – and attached to a wheel just a few inches off the ground to capture a flip and the wheel turning on the pavement. It was also mounted close to a skater’s face.

“All those shots that Ty said he was most frustrated about, we made those shots happen,” Mansouri said. “And once those technical limitations were removed, his imagination and ours became free to explore and we came up with other creative shots he had never even considered.”

Driving in Cars

For the second shot, Michael Mansouri and his brother Bobby enlisted the assistance of filmmaker Brian Moghari, who is experienced with time lapse and motion control. Radiant prep tech Jason Jackson also contributed.

The shot involved the movement of the Novo from outside a moving car to inside, dollying on small tracks across the back seat before exiting the opposite rear window and tilting and panning on a track outside on the other side.

Radiant utilized the small, capable camBLOCK motion control system to program and then execute the camera movements. “Usually these systems are so big you can’t put them inside a car,” Mansouri said. “And most of the time you have to use a cutaway to get a shot like that. But we made it happen inside and outside a moving car in the middle of the day on a busy street in Los Angeles. And we got it done in less than an hour.”

Colors in Nature

Cinematographer Ciamac Parhizi, who is known for shooting extreme sports, assisted Radiant Images with its final shot – filming a range of colorful lizards and other little creatures to illustrate the crispness and clarity of the Novo.

“We wanted colorful, macro stuff,” Mansouri said. “We were able to get the camera very close to the animals without spooking them, something that would have been much more difficult and invasive with a larger camera and equipment. You wouldn’t get the same organic, intimate shots.”

Cinematographer Stump also made a presentation at Digital Day 2013 that utilized Radiant Images’ new comprehensive camera evaluation tool.

Radiant Images recently conducted a wide range of non-biased tests of all available digital cinema production cameras to provide filmmakers with a way to compare cameras visually rather than by technical specifications. It is the first rental house to perform such all-encompassing testing of cameras.

The DGA asked Stump, who shot some of the camera evaluations for Radiant, to evaluate five cameras:  Sony F55ARRI AlexaRed EpicNovo and Blackmagic Design. Using side-by-side comparisons, he showed differences in the cameras in such areas as a color rendition, green screen, and dynamic range.

Radiant Images also shared information about its new camera comparison iPhone/iPad app, built from the ground up and released in beta testing at Cine Gear. The app is set for final release with a range of new features and enhancements. With this in-house, cutting-edge technology, users will be able to get information about or evaluate and compare digital production cameras on the fly from their phone or tablet.

“We were quite pleased and appreciative to be asked to be a part of this event as it enabled us to communicate with filmmakers in a visual way and share some of our solutions,” Mansouri said.

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