white storm


The Comic Con started today, time for the "White Storm" website to go online. A few weeks back we shot a trailer for the movie in a Studio in L.A. and lots of background plates and material in Death Valley. I had the pleasure to join the project as vfx supervisor and contribute additionally the vfx and set photography. The trailer is still in post production, but the website is worth a first look and the director Bruno Werneck is presenting the project at Comic Con in San Diego.

Image from timelapse sequence shot with Canon EOS-5D Mark II and TS-E 24mm 1:3.5 L

been shooting

Canon EOS-5D Mark II - EF 70-200mm 1:2.8L IS USM - photo by Andre Cantarel

Haven't posted here for a few weeks, but actually a lot has been going on. Went back to L.A. for three weeks for some business and shooting. I had the pleasure to supervise a VFX driven movie shoot there, including location photography and extensive work in the greenscreen studio. I will post detailed "making of" and "behing the scenes" once the project is released. Now back in Germany at the right time for some more car photography in beautiful spring, some consulting work and RND for the possible next big gig. Blog posts on those to follow as well as some "behind the scenes" and "how to" on texture photography.

photo by the secret director

photo by the secret director

The gear used to create this image:

Canon EOS-5D Mark II: 21 Megapixels resolution, fullframe sensor with gorgeous 1080p video, great high ISO noise performance.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L II IS USM: the image was shot with the discontinued version I predecessor, get the newer EF 70-200mm f/2.8L II IS USM. The 70-200 is my most used lens delivering great results.

Lightroom 3: the best tool for image management and manipulation on Windows and Macintosh.

See my gear pages:
recommended equipment.

hollywood moon

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III - EF 70-200mm 1:2.8L IS USM - iso100 - f/8 1/400 sec - Michael Grobe

Moon over Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, Los Angeles. Sometimes one can find Hollywood on top of a parking garage.

More 600mm f/4

Canon EOS-5D Mark II - EF 600mm f/4 L IS USM - iso250 - f/8 1/2500 sec - Michael Grobe

Need to get one of these amazing Canon Tele lenses one day... love the 600mm, but the 500mm f/4 is substantially lighter and a bit smaller, so you can even hand hold it for a while. The 600mm is simply too heavy.

Canon EOS-5D Mark II - EF 600mm f/4 L IS USM - iso100 - f/5 1/800 sec - Michael Grobe

100% crop (actual pixels): the 600mm with the 5D Mark II reveal the heat distortion around the engines of a jet. Sometimes reality looks like a crazy bump map....

Canon EOS-5D Mark II - EF 600mm f/4 L IS USM - iso100 - f/5 1/800 sec - Michael Grobe

Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Canon EF 600mm f/4 L IS USM

Here is the short movie edited from the material we shot back then with the Canon EF 600 f/4 L IS USM on the 5D Mk II.

600mm from Greg Strasz on Vimeo.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III - EF 70-200mm 1:2.8L IS USM - iso1600 - f/4.5 1/25 sec - Michael Grobe

Due to some late hours and pressing deadlines I have neglected this blog for a while. But I have been shooting...
In this case I had the opportunity to shoot my new Canon EOS 5D Mark II with the amazing Canon EF 600mm f/4 L IS USM, one of the worlds finest super-tele lenses. Since the 5DM2 arrived right before Christmas, I have been using it extensively and comparing it to my Canon EOS 1DS Mark III. My conclusion: the Canon EOS 5D Mark II delivers image quality on par with the Canon EOS 1DS Mark III and adds the long awaited low light capabilities up to usable ISO 6400 (12800 and 25600 are for emergencies only, when you need to get a photo at all). So both cameras make up a great team for all occasions, I still will grab the 1DS Mark III first for a shoot, as it has all the additional features of Canon`s Pro series bodies: weather sealing, superior autofocus (a real difference to the autofocus of the 5D Mark II), 7 brackets for HDR shooting (only 3 with the 5D Mark II, which is a deal breaker for professional use on a movie set), faster frame rate and a lot of other advantages.
But... when the last sun-rays hit the lens, the 5D Mark II starts to shine. While it can´t beat the Nikon D3 and D700 with its low light sensitivity, it comes close.
I was shooting the EF 600mm f/4 L IS USM at one of the photo shootings for a soon to come Hollywood movie together with colleagues (equipped with two Nikon D3´s). That lens is simply amazing. While you hate the weight and bulkiness (5.36 kg), you fall in love with the image quality it delivers. The shot below shows the beautiful bokeh and the incredible detail you can capture, when the lens is connected to a 21 MP 5D Mark II. The crop is at 50% magnification (1200x800 pixels at 100% scaled down to 600x400). Obviously a lens of that focal length requires a sturdy tripod and careful shooting technique: mirror lock up, remote release and either spot on autofocus or manually adjusted focus via live-view.

And what about the video capture....
of course we shot some video footage with the EF 600mm f/4 L and the 5D Mark II in HD video mode. More to come here, once I had the chance to edit the material. First impressions: I have a laughing and a crying eye (we say that in German, I guess it doesn´t translate properly to English). Why? Stay tuned...

Canon EOS-5D Mark II - EF 600mm f/4 L IS USM - iso100 - f/5 1/500 sec
Photo by Greg Strasz

Canon EOS-5D Mark II - EF 600mm f/4 L IS USM - iso100 - f/5 1/500 sec
50% magnification (1200x800 pixels at 100% scaled down to 600x400)

Photo by Greg Strasz

bollywood sleeps

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III - EF 24-105mm 1:4L IS USM - iso100 - f8 - 30sec - Michael Grobe

Film City - a large studio complex in the hub of the indian film industry: Bollywood in Mumbai. The state government has built Film City at the outskirts of the National Park, Goregaon, where leopards, tigers and snakes call the shots. I took the shot from the rooftop of a 22-story apartment building, just before dawn. Luckily the guard at the entrance was sleeping, when I entered around 4 am, so no questions, what I would want on the roof in the middle of the night. It was a great experience to witness dawn over Mumbai from that height. Just had to stay in the middle of the roof, as there were no railings to keep me from a final flight...

The next image is a HDR (high dynamic range) composition of 3 single shots. I used Photomatix for the exposure blending to get all the fine detail in the shadows as well as in the highlights and the sky. The exposures were taken at -1.3ev, 0ev, +1.3ev. Sometimes a range like -2,0,+2 or even wider is better, that depends on the dynamic range, that a given scenery presents to your camera. For professional work on a movie set, I normally shoot 5 exposures from -4,-2,0,+2,+4 ev, or even 7 from -6 to +6 ev, that gives enough dynamic range in most situations for real HDR image based lighting in 3D computer graphics. For pure artistic photography, that dynamic range is in most cases over the top and produces a lot of data (the 21mp raw files of the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III are around 25 mb each). If the scenery presents an extreme range from shadows to highlights, one should measure the dynamic range using a spotmeter, then bracket the exposures accordingly. It doesn´t hurt too much, to have more exposures than necessary, but it definitely hurts, if you didn´t capture the necessary range and find that out back home after the shoot...

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III - EF 24-105mm 1:4L IS USM - iso200 - f8 - 2,5sec -
HDR exposure blending of 3 shots

the eagle has landed

Canon EOS-20D - 28-70mm - iso400 - f8 - 1/2000 - Michael Grobe

Not exactly an eagle, but a proper bird, I guess. These doves are special forces: instructed by an animal trainer, they are waiting in the wings for their appearance in a Bollywood movie. Shot during a training session in Rajasthan.

dark wings

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III - EF 24-105mm 1:4L IS USM - iso200 - f7.1 - 1/800 - Michael Grobe

“people once believed that when someone dies, a crow carries their soul to the land of the dead” - proem of “The Crow”
I don´t know if that bird there is even a crow, but it reminds me deeply of that movie, a favorite of mine and makes me wonder, how many great cinematic moments Brandon Lee could have given the audience, if he didn`t die while shooting that film.
So get the soundtrack from the movie, put on your headphones and fly away gothic style with “The Cure: Burn”...

delorean in 3D

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV - EF 70-200mm 1:2.8L IS USM - iso320 - f/2.8 1/400 sec
- Michael Grobe

"Yes, the way I see it, if your gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?” Doc Brown, Back to the Future.

So when we (long time colleagues at "Alex Lemke Visual Effects" in Munich and myself) decided to shoot a research project to dive into the stereoscopic acquisition and execution of visual effects for 3D feature films, we also did it with some style. I woke the DeLorean up from hibernation and with the support of director, dop and Academy® Award winning developer Sebastian Cramer and his Production Rig we shot a few scenes at Munich's "Kunstpark Ost" now called "Kultfabrik", during the day a kind of industrial looking area with studios and some cool sceneries, during the night one the biggest party areas in Europe.
The Rig equipped with 2 RED Mysterium X cameras performed great and we managed to get all shots in just one day. Now the visual effects post production starts and during the next weeks we will finish the shots and setup the necessary workflows. So in a few weeks we should have a nice 3D VFX demo and a proper pipeline for future projects.

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV - Canon EOS-5D Mark II - Michael Grobe