Matte boxes are fantastic filmmaking tools for a multitude of reasons. They allow you to have pinpoint control over the light that hits your lens (which is a must for discerning cinematographers). They make the process of incorporating optical filters into your setup so much easier and more practical than screw-on filters ever could. So why aren't matte boxes more prevalent in low-budget filmmaking? Well, the good ones are ridiculously expensive, and the ones that are more affordable are terribly-built and sadly lacking in the features that serious filmmakers need.
[Update 3]: The Kickstarter has been cancelled. Here is the message from the creators:
We are having issues with our manufacturer, and we have decided to cancel the project until our concerns are resolved. We decided to cancel now so that no ones cards were charged, and so that our backers did not face delays following the close of the campaign. Look for updates in the future concerning a re-launch.
[Update 2 -- Editor's Note]: We feel that the other matte boxes are just too similar and the amount of parts that are being taken off the shelf doesn't really warrant a crowdfunding campaign. At this point you can find plenty of models that have similar features and should function the same.
[Update]: We have found several variations on this product from various resellers. First, there's the Supamods Carbon Fiber Matte Box, which is on sale for $299. Then there is the Camtree Carbon Fiber Matte Box, which is $267 on eBay.
I spoke with Alex from Intellytech about the similarities between the ClearView MatteBox and these other products, and he assured me that the ClearView is being manufactured with several key design changes (including higher quality materials and mounting points) and with much stricter quality control measures. Also, based on the specs from these various manufacturers, the ClearView is significantly lighter than the other two by 300 grams.
And here's a quick look at some of the reasons why you most-definitely want a matte box on your next production:
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The price on the ClearView matte box is $495 when ordered through the Kickstarter page (a limited number are available at $475). You might be saying to yourself, "You lied to us! $475 is not super affordable!" But before you get out your torches and pitchforks, let's take a step back and look at some of the other budget matte boxes that are currently on the market. You have matte boxes from companies like Cavision that are quite a bit more affordable, but they're cheaply made, and severely lacking in features. Then there are several matte boxes that sit right around $4oo that have some of the features of higher-end matte boxes, but they're mostly a mixture of cheap plastics and they're not particularly well made either.
That's where the ClearView matte box excels. Not only are the build-materials and construction top-notch, but it's fully featured and only a tad more expensive than its badly built brethren. Some of the features that have me stoked about the ClearView are the fact that it has a swing-away arm that swings back more than 90 degrees, which makes changing lenses even easier than with matte boxes that only swing out to 90 degrees. The ClearView is also height adjustable, and the filter stage that is rotatable is independent of the other filter stage, which means that you can use a polarizer alongside a grad filter of some sort. This is definitely not possible with matte boxes that force you to rotate both filter stages simultaneously.
Additionally, as a guy who loves to shoot him some handheld, I can very easily keep the weight of my rig down with this matte box. The carbon fiber/ ABS engineering plastic construction of this matte box blows away the competition in terms of weight and performance. While there might be lighter matte boxes out there, none of them are as well-built or as fully featured as the ClearView.
What do you guys think of this matte box? Let us know down in the comments!