Joel Byron is a UK-based filmmaker who uses a mix of digital and analogue techniques. He is the creative director at BigPlus and recently made a short video of his trip to the South of France using the Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I'm an analogue and digital film-maker/artist. In 2007 I established BigPlus. We’ve grown a reputation by producing inspiring projects. We aim to craft beautiful, and effective films that often encourage people to take action. Over the years we’ve forged strong partnerships with leading brands, pioneering tech companies, and charity organizations spearheading social media campaigns, producing promos, creating brand stories, and capturing all sorts of live events. Our films have been screened and exhibited globally at festivals, cinemas, and galleries. From script to screen it’s all about telling stories in honest, new and exciting ways.
In terms of shooting video, how did you find using the lens?
The Petzval 58 lens reminds me of a vintage kaleidoscope, not just in appearance but in the way it transforms life’s images into a lucid dream. The glass on the lens has been fashioned in such a unique and special way that the video frames feel almost painterly. It's different to the average lens, with the focus on the side of the lens and the aperture controlled and shaped via inserting metal plates.
What did you choose to shoot?
My family has been visiting the South of France since I was a child. Each year I take various cameras (Fuji Rensha, LC-A, and Nizo Professional) as tools to capture images from the Languedoc region. The area is peaceful and visually enticing, rich with Vineyards, and secret hideaways…like the waterfalls in the film I captured.
The scenic views and natural surroundings make it an ideal location to play with the Petzval Lens. Images seemed to emerge from the camera like paintings, Van Gogh doing his best Monet impression!
What advice would you give to other videographers who want to use this lens?
I prescribe play and practice! Whilst the ring offers control, the bokeh still needs to be tamed. I experimented with the lens but by no means mastered it. If filming in bright sunlight, invest in a set of ND Filters. I was fortunate in that my camera has a built-in variable ND, useful when filming with a Plate Aperture system. Whilst it could be viewed as a specialist piece of kit I can see how it could add something very special to a fashion shoot, wedding film or music video, approach with an open mind and have fun. It’s a unique tool.
What’s coming up in 2017?
Always balancing the commercial with the artistic! Lots of projects on the go … we’ve just begun production on a Kickstarter for a tech company who’ve developed a visual recognition system capable of automatically indexing photos and video. Intelligent searching that analyzes images based on content – faces, scenery, objects etc etc…collating searches all into one place! Also, I’m currently working with an artist called Marcus Levine who sculptures pictures using a hammer and (thousands of!) nails. He’s recently completed a stunning installation celebrating David Hockney’s 80th Birthday. Worth a Google! I believe in artistic collaboration, it’s fascinating what you discover about yourself, and your own creative process as you work with others. My films are reactions to their work but innately include parts of yourself as a maker. I shoot both digitally and with film, the output often culminates in audiovisual pieces screened on vintage TVs and performances using multiple Super 8mm projectors.