Specialist kit rental company The Lens Foundry has launched, catering for 4K, visual effects and aerial photography.
The outfit has been 18 months in planning and represents a six-figure investment from founders vfx supervisor Alexis Haggar (winner of the 2012 RTS Award for The Fades), camera/Steadicam operator Gareth Harfoot, and cameraman and stereographer Adam Sculthorp.
Sculthorp was 3D supervisor for the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms, and the forthcoming 50th anniversary episode of Dr Who.
“We aim to bring some of the unique camera trickery associated with Hollywood blockbusters into the scope of UK documentaries and TV dramas,” explained Sculthorp. “One of our key selling points is joining the camera department with vfx. Until now no one has really brought all those skills together under one roof.”
Key inventory includes a Sony F55, 3-axis stabilised 8-rotor aerial platform, a CineDrive motion control system and custom-built cable-cam.
“We are not going after the work that traditional aerial camera or motion control companies are supplying, but for productions looking to achieve parity with the style of specialist photography, aerial sequences or camera moves associated with top end budgets then we can make every penny count.”
It is supplying a fully crewed 4K F55 package for an international factual co-production where there is a possibility of cinema release.
“The increased cost of shooting in 4K isn't that significant even for shows which rely on archive film negative to be rescanned at 4K,” said Sculthorp.
“Our criteria was to select the most creatively adaptive gear we could find,” added Harfoot. “Our motion control system is totally modular. This means it has many different and varied applications, which gives us a huge amount of scope. We're also designing in-house adaptions which will allow us to mount it in some very unusual places.”
Haggar added: “While our main emphasis is on camera rigs, we wanted to offer the best 4K RAW camera package available. Over the years we have shot on just about every camera system available from film to data, and we looked at everything on the market before we made our decision. The Sony F55 offers a true 4K sensor and has a fantastic latitude of 14 stops in a small robust package, but its major advantage is the Global Shutter and 16-bit RAW, which are both essential for visual effects work.”
“Our other consideration when selecting the F55 was to allow us to offer an entire vfx specialist unit,” said Harfoot. “It means that productions shooting on a tight schedule don't have to interrupt the main unit. We turn up fully equipped to complete our sequence.”
The company is currently scouting for a permanent location with sites at studios like Pinewood Shepperton on its shortlist.
By Adrian Pennington