Coatwolf's 'Bellflower' Played Sundance with Cinematography from a Hand-Built Custom Camera

Film collective Coatwolf's short Bellflower played in Sundance's NEXT section, and from what I can tell had a unique aesthetic. Why? Because they pieced together their camera from dozens of parts. Here's a look at the ridiculous (not in a bad way) contraption in action:

Video is no longer available:

Of course, one does wonder why exactly all of that was necessary -- presumable the full SI-2K rig was too expensive. Here's an inspirational behind-the-scenes video on their Sundance selection:

And a closer look at the contraption:

The Coatwolf crew were also lucky enough to be visited by Ted from RED, who stopped by with their new EPIC camera.

Link: Coatwolf

[Thanks, Ryan Doyle]

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Kudos for the ingenuity, but why go to all that trouble for a 2/3" sensor?

February 2, 2011 at 9:10AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Well, you can tell from the footage that it's a very shallow DOF -- they're filming an intermediate screen, a ground glass or something similar.

February 2, 2011 at 11:37AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Ryan Koo

It is just a small sensor CCD with an enourmours 35mm adaptor, that takes 3 people to walk around with.
It would have been easier using a 5Dii but hey, it is a free world and eccentrics are allowed to make films.
Maybe it is just a technical distraction to a poor script or they are really geniuses trying to make a simple thing harder.

February 3, 2011 at 6:09AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Not a ccd but a cmos, also a great workflow with a superbly robust codec (cineform). I am pretty sure also that Evin already owned that SI Mini beforehand.

February 3, 2011 at 12:41PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Just a note, their film is actually a feature, not a short.

February 3, 2011 at 1:10PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I'm not too sure, but I may have seen an article here before about a similar project—basically a handmade, crowdsourced-type camera. I remember following the link to another site where you could see the videos from the prototype but they were still encouraging other enthusiasts from the web to contribute.

Can't find the article anywhere, and can't (for the life of me) remember the name of the project. I was wondering if any of you guys (Ryan or his readers) can direct me to that one/remember what it was called. (If it helps, I vaguely remember the draw being a wide number of frame rates, though I'm super hazy on if that's true or if it's my brain tricking me.)


And just to put in my two cents on this thing, I think that the point of showcasing a group that hand-built their own camera isn't to be amazed at the camera itself (though we're welcome to do that) but to admire the attitude that these filmmakers exhibited going into the project and be enthusiastic about the potential for cameras in the future that are highly customizable to the taste/s of the filmmakers, especially independent filmmakers.

February 4, 2011 at 4:24PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


what's funny about this is that there are like five people engaged in managing this camera setup. while I applaud the grass-fed, kickstarter, boot-strap, legume-eatin' approach, it's also a little sad that it's easier to find five human beings, with all that potential stored up inside all of them to wrangle a camera, than it presumably is to find five, 4K film resolution digital cinema cameras for them to use (one as a main, 4 for coverage and alt angles).

gear is still too expensive if human labor is considered easier to find.

March 17, 2011 at 1:58PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

what's funny

It's a spinning ground glass, 4" x 5". There is nothing out there that exists like this. 5D is BIG...but not this big. This is the only way they could get the look they wanted. Quite ingenious.

October 6, 2011 at 7:35PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


othera0(this vlog can also be linked up with Project Marriage ata0Life Without Pinka0anda0MommyFriend)3.)a0Wildcard! You can do any past prpomt you want – just be sure to tell us which one you are

March 18, 2014 at 10:08AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM