Seman Takes Cine Xenar III Lenses Through Extremes

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Thu, 11/29/2012 - 19:00 -- Nick Dager

Director of Photography Colt Seman is always looking for the latest tools to enhance the variety of high-profile projects that come to his Long Beach California based company Sweatpants Media.  When Seman and partner director Jonny Zeller heard about Schneider’s new line of Cine Xenar III lenses they had to put them through their paces. “We chose a variety of projects with a variety of challenges ” says Seman. “We did a 30-second spot for NBC and The X-Games in LA. We also do an ongoing series for Red Bull where the lenses have to keep pace with a racecar driver. We also did a spot for mophie juice pack Pro where they went one-on-one with a machinist’s sparks. And when we went to Nicaragua for a Panasonic launch they had to endure the endless rainforest. In every case the results were outstanding.

“Jonny and I are extremely tough on our gear since we rarely shoot in a studio and are almost always on location ” he explains. “Plenty of equipment doesn’t last a day with us let alone a month. So when we pushed the abilities and durability of these lenses to the max we were extremely happy with the results. They took everything we threw at them and got us gorgeous pictures too.”

 For a Toyota shoot Seman and Zeller needed to capture several different locations with varying lighting situations. “The Cine Xenar IIIs performed excellently ” says Seman. “We used the 18mm to get great interior shots of the cars. The close focus is so much closer than what we’ve used in the past. We got such a pure image.” For traveling to remote areas in Nicaragua the team needed a lens that was portable but also built like a Sherman tank says Seman. “Hands down the Cine Xenar III lenses are built to take a heavy beating ” he adds. “We were in environments like the rainforest and we didn’t have to worry about moisture getting into the lens and making it stick. On this shoot there was a downpour twice a day every day and we never had any issues. It isn’t waterproof true and you don’t want to take the lenses swimming but they handled a Central American rainforest without any problems.”

 The team’s final shoot was probably the most challenging. It was for mophie phones – in really low light. “The close focus ability of the lenses was key to the success of the shots ” Seman explains. “We mounted the camera to a motion capture rig to get precise camera movements. The studio was almost totally dark with three 2Ks lighting it. We threw water dirt and at one point a jet of flaming hairspray all of which needed to be captured at an extremely high frame rate. The low T-stops all the way down to a 2.0 allowed us to do just that.”