Chicago Aerial Video & Photography. Thunderlab Is Clear For Take-off!

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Chicago Aerial Video & Photography. Thunderlab Is Clear For Take-off!

After a long arduous process of petitioning the FAA to operate UAVs commercially, we are now cleared to fly!

What does this mean for our clients? Now that we have received our FAA333 Exemption we can now legally acquire aerial footage for motion picture & television purposes. 

The next time your project requires an epic cinematic shot from above, Thunderlab has you covered! Give us a call to take you next shoot to new heights.

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New Motion Graphics Work.

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New Motion Graphics Work.

Check out our latest motion graphics work. We recently teamed up with B-Side Creative & Motorola Solutions to create a one of kind video to highlight the features of two great cloud based applications.

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Some BTS Instagram Stills From a Recent Shoot, UberEx.

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Some BTS Instagram Stills From a Recent Shoot, UberEx.

We recently teamed up with Chicago writer/director Karisa Bruin to shoot her latest short film, "UberEx." 

UberEx is a non-romantic comedy. 

It's about Neah, perpetually late, and in a rush to meet her fiancee Ethan at an event so she calls an UberX that just happens to be driven by her ex-boyfriend, Carter.

Needless to say, 95% of the film takes place in a car and required tons of engineering to get the cameras rigged into position. It was a fun project and we're looking forward to being able to share the final product later this summer!


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Event Shots.

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Event Shots.

We've shot all sorts of events over the years. Here's a collage of stills taken from a handful of shoots. 

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People & Lifestyle Stills

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People & Lifestyle Stills

We often get asked by our clients if we can handle still photography in addition to motion pictures. The answer is, most certainly! Here's a gallery of images captured from recent portrait/lifestyle shoots. 

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Peep some of our stills from food shoots...

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Peep some of our stills from food shoots...

We love to shoot food and being on set with a great chef or pro food stylist is always a good time. Check out some of our shots from a handful of tabletop shoots.

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Our 3D Robotics Solo Drone Has Been Ordered...

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Our 3D Robotics Solo Drone Has Been Ordered...

Last week we wrote a quick blog post about the new DJI Phantom 3 Professional we had ordered. The anticipation of getting our hands on DJI's new light duty drone was exciting. Then, a week later a company called 3D Robotics unleashed a new UAV called Solo. After seeing this bird's features the order for the Phantom 3 was cancelled and here's why.

While the DJI Phantom 3 will certainly be amazing, the 3D Robotics Solo has more features that we want. For starters, 3D Robotics worked with GoPro when designing the Solo. So instead of having to use DJI's proprietary camera we can use the GoPro cameras we already have. Another huge reason we went with 3D Robotics is because they left the Solo's platform open to 3rd party manufactures. This means companies will be designing new gimbals to support other cameras and accessories, awesome. 

Solo also comes with some really great flight features allowing the pilot to pull off complicated camera moves with ease. Another completely esoteric reason we decided to go with the Solo vs. The Phantom 3 was difference between the product release videos. The Phantom 3 release video has a bunch of pretty aerial shots driven by a really cheesy voice over. Solo's release video has monkeys and astronauts! 

The video below is an overview of all the amazing things the Solo is capable of.

As you can see, the Solo is pretty sweet. We can't wait for it to ship to the Thunderlab HQ!


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The ARRI  SkyPanel Looks Incredible!

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The ARRI SkyPanel Looks Incredible!

ARRI released their all new SkyPanel Series soft lights this week and we want one...or ten! These lights look super versatile and come loaded with useful features like variable color temperatures, +/- green control, and a built in ability to use party colors. 

These new lights would be amazing in so many situations. Here's a video showing off all the amazing details.

Also, check out the "Reveal Film."

Soon as these get added to rental house inventories, we'll be first in line to try them out. One of our favorite rental houses in Chicago, Magnanimous Media, had operatives in Las Vegas for this year's NAB Show. They put together a great video shot at ARRI's display booth. Check it out.

It's amazing to watch how fast LED lighting technology is progressing. Looking forward to seeing all the new products on the horizon.

Feast your eyes on some more photos of these beauties.

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Well, We Couldn't Resist Ordering a New Phantom 3 Quadcopter!

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Well, We Couldn't Resist Ordering a New Phantom 3 Quadcopter!

Phantom 3 Professional 4K

Phantom 3 Professional 4K

As the booming drone market grows rapidly, clients request aerial footage more and more. Having the ability to capture creative shots that were impossible to get in the past is a great thing. Yesterday DJI announced it's new line-up of quadcopters, The Phantom 3 Series. Consumers now have the choice to get the 1080p Advanced Phantom 3 or the 4K enabled Professional Phantom 3. We chose to order the latter. 

In the past year we have been experimenting with smaller drones like the Hubsan X4 and Blade Nano QX 3D in order to sharpen our skills as pilots. After seeing the specs on the new Phantom 3 Professional, we decided to order one for the shop. Can't wait to start working with it!

Here are some product videos from DJI.

Stay tuned for a DJI Phantom 3 product review and sample footage...

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The Canon C300 MKII Has Arrived!

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The Canon C300 MKII Has Arrived!

The highly anticipated Canon C300 MKII is here and B&H started accepting pre orders this morning. The cost is $15,999, ouch! Here are some more details.

You can pre-order the camera through this link:  C300MKII EF Mount or C300MKII PL Mount

Full Press release:

Canon has unveiled the EOS C300 Mark II, a new 4K Digital Cinema Camera allowing filmmakers and broadcast producers to realise their creative vision in stunning cinematic detail.

Building on the unprecedented success of the acclaimed EOS C300, the more rugged EOS C300 Mark II features an advanced imaging engine with Dual DIGIC DV5 processors, new professional codecs and outstanding dynamic range, making it the most capable, flexible and accessible Cinema EOS video camera to date.

SUPREME 4K IMAGE QUALITY AND VERSATILITY

With the ability to record 10-bit 4:2:2 files internally at up to 410Mbps in 4K, or 10/12-bit 4:4:4 files in 2K/Full HD, with up to 15 stops of dynamic range, the EOS C300 Mark II provides footage suitable for extensive post-production work, producing crisper images across the full colour spectrum with reduced “colour bleed”. The camera offers professional filmmakers and broadcasters alike the very best image quality, recording 4K in both broadcast (3840 x 2160) and DCI cinematic (4096 x 2160) resolutions.

The EOS C300 Mark II can record high bitrate 4K files internally to dual CFast 2.0™* media, while simultaneously recording 4K RAW files to an external recorder, offering the flexibility and universal appeal for production at the highest quality available today. Additionally, the ability to record 2K/Full HD Proxy files to an internal SD card, at the same time, further streamlines the production workflow process.

The EOS C300 Mark II features an all-new Super35mm CMOS sensor, designed by Canon, with a stunning ISO range of up to ISO 102,400.
The new Canon-designed Super 35mm CMOS sensor and an increased ISO range up to ISO 102,400 deliver exceptional low light performance, allowing operators to capture low-noise footage across a variety of challenging environments without compromising on image quality.

To meet the requirements of a diverse range of shooting applications and lighting situations, the EOS C300 Mark II offers both full manual control, ideal for cinematic environments, as well as a variety of automatic modes. These include enhanced Dual Pixel CMOS AF (now covering approximately 80% vertical x 80% horizontal of the image display), Auto White Balance and Face Detection AF, all of which make it easier than ever before for independent news gatherers and documentary filmmakers to shoot on the go without having to worry about settings.

INSTANT INTEGRATION INTO PROFESSIONAL WORKFLOWS

Canon’s new range of XF-AVC H.264 codecs, designed to be compatible with industry standard Non-Linear Edit systems, makes integrating both 4K and 2K/Full HD footage into workflows effortless, while maintaining the highest image quality. The range features XF-AVC intra for 4K, and XF-AVC Long GOP and Proxy options for 2K/Full HD recording, both of which utilise H.264 codec, offering post production flexibility and ease of use. Filmmakers can select the resolution and codec type that best suits their production, with the EOS C300 Mark II capable of shooting at up to 30P in 4K or up to 120P in 2K/Full HD.

The EOS C300 Mark II offers support for a wide range of colour space options, including BT.2020, the Canon Cinema Gamut and DCI-P3. The camera is also the first Cinema EOS model to feature brand new Canon Log2 technology, which enables the 15-stops of dynamic range, significantly wider than previous Cinema EOS cameras. The camera offers new versatility for sound recording too, supporting 4-channel audio recording in 16- or 24-bit and 48 kHz.

DESIGNED FOR VERSATILITY

The EOS C300 Mark II boasts the iconic Cinema EOS design DNA – a modular body that can be adapted to suit the needs of each shooter and filming situation, through the extensive range of compatible accessories. Internally, the EOS C300 Mark II also includes built-in electronically controlled glass ND (neutral density) filters, which reduces the amount of light reaching the sensor by up to 10 stops in expansion mode. Compatibility with the RC-V100 remote control and optional Wi-Fi control also enables ease of use in a wider range of locations.

A new modular body allows users to connect the EOS C300 Mark II to a host of professional accessories.
The camera’s sensor read-out speed is now twice as fast as the original EOS C300, and further reduces rolling shutter distortion, allowing for crisp image capture in a moving environment, making it perfectly suited for capturing action sequences.

Leveraging Canon’s rich heritage in lens design, the EOS C300 Mark II is compatible with more than 90 current EF and EF Cinema lenses allowing operators to use their existing EF mount lenses. In addition, the EOS C300 Mark II comes equipped with Canon Cine servo zoom lens support, delivering one of the most comprehensive selections of lens possibilities for movie and broadcast production available in the market today. For further flexibility, shooters can opt to change the lens mount from the default EF Mount, to EF Mount with Cinema Lock, or to the industry standard PL mount, as a service option.**

EOS C300 MARK II KEY BENEFITS:

High bitrate internal 4K recording with external RAW.
High dynamic range files, ideal for post-production.
Seamlessly integrate with professional workflows.
Automatic features make independent shooting easy.
Shoot with confidence in low light with low noise.

...and here are some more photos of the beast.

Canon also announced the XC10 a new fixed lens video camera that is capable of still photography as well.

The price for this thing is $2,499. Not really sure who will be buying this thing, but it's certainly a new idea. Could be a great camera to supplement multi camera shoots or use with drones.


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It Appears To Be The Year of The Drone.

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It Appears To Be The Year of The Drone.

Drones and their ability to capture stunning photos and engaging video are hot right now. Ever since DJI unleashed their Phantom series Quadcopters on the masses at affordable prices, there's never been a better time to get into flying. With NAB kicking off next week, drone manufacturers have been releasing teaser videos for their exciting new products. 

DJI is revealing something brand new tomorrow (4/8/15) at 11:30AM EST. Rumors indicate that they will show off their follow up the the Phantom 2 with the all new Phantom 3 series. Here's the teaser for tomorrow's event:

In addition to DJI, 3D Robotics recently put out this teaser video for their new UAV that will be released 4/13/15:

You gotta love their homage to 2001:  A Space Odyssey!

It's a very exciting time for aerial photography and we can't wait to see what comes next!

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Thunderlab's 2015 NAB Show Predictions.

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Thunderlab's 2015 NAB Show Predictions.

In less than two weeks broadcast, digital media, film, and post production professionals will descend upon Las Vegas to peruse the latest in industry technology. The 2015 NAB show is the largest event of it's kind and manufacturers from around the globe come to unleash their latest creations. Every year vendors one up each other by announcing gear that no one saw coming. 

As a production company, we must follow digital cinema technology trends and figure out what new pieces of equipment that will best suit our needs. With 4K being the next step in camera sensor innovation, we are excited to see who's bringing the game changers. We're definitely in the market to add another camera system to our stable this year. While we shoot lots of projects with the ARRI Alexa & RED Epic, we tend to wind up shooting on the Canon C300/500s and HDSLRs for most of our work. With that being said, we have high hopes for the rumored Canon C300 MKII.

Here are some predictions and hopes that we'd like to see from manufacturers this year.

Canon
Let's start off with an industry powerhouse. Rarely will you be on a set without a Canon product being utilized in one way or another. The 5D MKIII is a staple. The C300 is a workhorse and the C500 is capable of kicking out some seriously gorgeous 4K RAW footage. We love the C300 for it's versatility and easy workflow. We hope the fabled C300 MKII does not disappoint. 

C300 MKII - Nothing is written in stone, but it's highly likely that this will be announced at NAB.

  • We know it will be capable of recording 4K on a super 35 sensor, but we hope it will be able to capture 4K RAW internally to boot (unlikely).
  • Since the C300's highest frame rate was only 60i at 1080, it would be absolutely amazing to see the MKII able to capture frame rates all the way up to 240fps. However, it will probably just do 120fps at 1080 and 60fps in compressed 4k.
  • When the C300 MKII rumors started to get hot, it was touted that it would be priced to compete with the Sony FS7 ($7,999). We think that is absurd. The current dual pixel C300  sells for $11,499 EF & $11,999 PL and it can't even handle 60p! Canon has also said that the new C300 will be "better that the FS7 in every way." This would indicate that the camera will have a far more robust price tag somewhere in the $15,000-$20,000 range. Let's hope we're wrong about that!
    • EDIT 4/1/15 - Canon just announced that they slashed the price of the C300 by 40%! B&H has C300 w/ dual pixel AF listed for $6,999. While this sucks for people who recently bought a C300, no idea who would do that, it's great for the people looking to grab a C300MKII. Our new price prediction for the MKII is $12,000-$15,000.
    • EDIT 4/8/15 - C300 MKII has been announced! 4k internal recording, 120fps at 1080, $15,999. We pre-ordered ours through B&H.
  • There's no way on earth this would happen, but it'd be fantastic to see a full frame sensor dropped into the C300 MKII. The only reason to bring that up is the fact that the 5D MKIV will have a full frame sensor that can handle 4K when it comes out. So why not just pop a full frame into the C300 MKII?
  • Better Dynamic Range.
  • Expect to see a PL and EF lens mount option. An EF w/ positive lock would be a cool add.

C500 MKII - This camera is most likely coming out in the foreseeable future, but not at NAB 2015. When it does come out, it will surely have everything we want to see in the C300 MKII for an intensely higher price. 

5DMKIV - It was crazy to see the recent 50MP 5DS/5DSR come out of left field earlier this year. We're sure still photographers are plenty excited about this, but it left the film/video crowd scratching theirs heads when it was revealed these new mega pixel thugs didn't offer any standard issue video features. It's clearly a move on Canon's part to separate the photo and video professionals. Announcing the 5DMKIV at this year's NAB should happen, but won't! That's because Canon has to get the 5DS/5DSR's shipping in high quantities before releasing another camera. Looks like we'll have to wait until fall for the follow up to the 5DMKIII. Too bad.

1DXMKII - So if Canon doesn't drop a new 5DMKIV at NAB maybe they'll drop the next generation 1DX with these specs?

  • 46MP Sensor
  • 4K Video
  • $9,000 price tag

RED
Pioneers of high resolution digital cinema, RED promises to bring some big guns to the table this year. The company is currently urging all it's customers to send in their current cameras for an upgrade "before it's too late" to save money on future upgrades. Here's what we might see at the show this year.

  • The new RED Weapon housing for their 6K Epic Dragon
  • A new 35mm full frame sensor and lens mount which will be known as the Vista Vision Weapon. This full frame sensor could possibly capture 8K?
  • It's possible they will announce a 65mm sensor.
  • Since they will be unveiling a new camera body, it's most likely they debut some new modules to add on as well.
  • RED will be adding ProRes flavors to all their cameras.

Blackmagic Design
Blackmagic is known for bringing the house down with their NAB announcements. They've debuted all their cameras at the show throughout the years starting with the Cinema Camera a couple years back. Then in following years, they wowed crowds with their Production Camera 4K, Pocket Cinema Camera, and URSA. Who's to say what kind of tricks Blackmagic has up their sleeve, but let's speculate wildly and take some guesses as to what they might announce this year.

Pocket Cinema Camera MKII -

  • 4K Recording
  • Mini XLR Inputs
  • Slightly Bigger Body
  • Larger Articulating Touch Screen
  • Better Dynamic Range

URSA Updates -

  • New Sensor Modules
  • A Non 10" Flip Out Screen Version & Other Weight Reductions

Perhaps Blackmagic will come out with a mirrorless 4K hybrid camera to compete with the GH4? They'll surely surprise us with something cool. 

GoPro
We've had dozens of these action cameras in various flavors since GoPro's inception. They are awesome cameras to have on hand for difficult to get shots but one thing is for sure, this company loves to release new versions of their cameras soon as you get the previous model home. This leads one to believe that the next best thing is coming to NAB or soon after.

GoPro Hero 5

  • 4K at 60fps
  • 6K or 8K at limited frame rates
  • Longer Battery Life
  • Better Bluetooth 

Nikon
We love Nikon! Their D800/D810/D4s cameras are stellar do it all cameras and while we will always love these cameras for still photography and B-Cams for videos, Nikon continues to disappoint us in regards to cinema. We don't expect to see anything new and exciting from Nikon at NAB this year and it saddens us deeply. How about a proper cinema camera, Nikon!?

AJA
This company shocked everyone last year at NAB with the announcement of their 4K Cion. Much like Blackmagic, AJA entered the camera game from nowhere. We don't think AJA will launch any new cameras this year, but we might see some improvements to the Cion's sensor with a possible upgrade option? You never know what to expect from companies like this once they get rolling in new directions.  

ARRI
A proud company run with German precision. ARRI has always done their own thing on their schedule. Don't expect to see anything out of the ordinary at this years show. Maybe they will release some new camera accessories that cost an exorbitant amount of money? There really is nothing like spending over $100 on a follow focus gear or replacement screw. It's magical!

Panasonic
Supposedly, they have a hybrid successor to the AF100/101 coming out. Not sure why they would go with a hybrid route on a non DSLR style camera body, but maybe it'll be killer? We certainly remember the HVX200 days and it'd be great to see Panasonic come out with a new ride.

Aside from major camera announcements, NAB always motivates vendors to release cutting edge products. Here's what else we'll probably see this year.

  • Lot's of Drones. GoPro is rumored to have one or two. DJI will probably have something new whether it be a drone or camera gimbal for the Inspire 1.
  • More Gimbal Stabilizers from a bunch of companies. DJI will probably have a new version of their popular Ronin.
  • Tons of great new LED lighting fixtures. We hope to see some new stuff from Kino Flo, AAdynTech, and Nila.
  • Boat loads of camera support and accessories. Everyone makes a camera cage now.
  • There should be plenty of new lenses being displayed. Hope to see someone making a quality set of cine primes or zooms at reasonable prices. Canon probably has some new zooms coming out. We'd love to see Schneider Optics make some cine zooms that fall in line with their Xenon FF primes.
  • We don't think they'll be any shortage of monitor and external recorder announcements.
  • Copious amounts of microphones, wireless systems, and audio recorders.
  • Bags and cases. Lots of bags and cases. 
  • Many more innovations and ways to deplete one's pocket book!

Thus concludes our 2015 NAB Show predictions. We can't wait to see how it all plays out.

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