IFH 161

IFH 161: Building an Affordable Cinema Lens w/ Veydra Lenses’ Ryan Avery


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If you’re an indie filmmaker and shoot your own stuff, the price of really good glass is generally too damn expensive and cinema-style primes lenses are totally out of reach…until now.

Until recently, the most cost-effective cinema-style primes lenses have been pre-existing stills lenses, which can create problems with matching and physical layout. You have the “pulling focus issue” that still lenses have (top marks vs side marks for the 1st AC to pull focus).

Enter Veydra’s Mini Cinema Primes. This amazing company has put the power back in the hands of the indie filmmaker at an affordable cost. These extremely compact lenses have an amazing build and image quality. They are light, compact and just gorgeous.

Today’s guest is the co-founder of Veydra lenses Ryan Avery. We discuss all things lenses, what cinematographers are looking for and the core mission of Veydra, to help filmmakers. If you want to learn a bit more about how cinema lenses work or how a couple of filmmaking entrepreneurs built a killer company then take a listen.

Alex Ferrari 0:01
So, today's guest and I have been playing tag for the last six months or so we've been trying to get I've been trying to get Ryan Avery on the show. And we've never been able to get our schedules right. Well, we finally got our schedule set up and got him on the show. Ryan Avery is a very inspirational guy. He is one of the cofounders of vedras Cinema lenses. And I am a big fan of these lenses because like anything else I really a big fan of it gives power to the people gives power to the filmmakers and gives good quality brand new cinema glass, for a very affordable price, almost probably a quarter of the price of what you should be paying for a for glass of this quality. But what I really wanted to talk about to Ryan about was not only about his glass, but the journey of how he built this company up his mission about what why he does what he does and why they do the company itself. And its core mission to help filmmakers and cinematographers get really good, affordable glass, how they started a Kickstarter campaign, asking for 50,000 bucks to make the prototypes and they got over a quarter of a million dollars. And of course, if we're going to have a lens expert on the show, we're going to talk about lenses. So if you are interested at all about knowing and understanding how a lens is built, what a good lens is what you're looking for to buy when you're buying a lens. This episode is definitely for you. It's a really great companion to my interview with duclos lenses, Matthew duclos, Episode 147, which you can find on any film hustle.com forward slash 147. I'll put it in the show notes as well. And we will be going deep into lenses and how to build a company and how to just follow your dream. You know, he had a he was in a normal job and he decided to open up his own company and go for it and he's doing well. And I think we can definitely find inspiration in Ryan's story without question. So without any further ado, enjoy my conversation with Ryan Avery. I like to welcome to the show Ryan Avery. Man, thanks so much for being on the show, man.

Ryan Avery 4:29
Thank you.

Alex Ferrari 4:30
I it's we've been going back and forth for what, six months.

Ryan Avery 4:34
It's been a long time we had a lot of back and forth. We finally wrangled our schedules and here we are.

Alex Ferrari 4:38
Absolutely. So thanks so much for being on the show. I'm really excited. I did an actual big post on the veydra lenses. Oh god almost a year ago now. And it went viral. It went really crazy. And I think is that the that's how you did that how you kind of found me did I find you I don't even remember it's been so long.

Ryan Avery 4:55
I you know, I think I know I read the article and then I obviously Appreciate it. So we shared it on our various various media channels because it really was a good summarization of the of the mini primes. And I'm sure we connected one way or another through there. So it's great. Great to be here.

Alex Ferrari 5:10
Yeah, I'm a big I'm a big supporter of anything that gives power to the people. And these lenses are definitely in that category without question. So let's talk a little bit about how to come up with that. Well, first, before I even get how did you come up with the idea? Tell me a little bit about yourself your background, I'm assuming you're a lens geek. So tell me a little bit about how you got started in the business in general.

Ryan Avery 5:33
Yeah, I worked in camera stores like selling I traded used lenses and for a number of years, and I also worked in several camera stores, including kids camera, which is now gone Ritz camera, which now exists only online, but then I worked for them they had like, over 2000 stores. Remember those? Yeah. And then I worked for sammies camera. And I took some time off to do some full time rock climbing and other things in the years in between and went to law school and did all kinds of stuff. But ultimately, I kept getting pulled back to photography and cinematography. And so I left sammys camera in 2006. And I started working for Schneider optics as their sales manager. And through that experience about that time a couple years later, Schneider came to me. And so they wanted to develop some cinema primes and those became the Schneider cinese Zener. Three, originally seen are one, two and three, I provided the design specification for those. So I talked to cinematographers, and then translate that to not literally translate in the English to German, translating to translate marketing speak, what what people are excited about. filmmakers are excited about seeing in lenses, communicating that to the engineers. And so we created the cinese er threes, ultimately. And then after that we did the Xenon full frame primes. I helped with the design specification for those. And after that I left Schneider in 2013. And we decided to start veydra. So that's what we did. It was a little bit of a project with me and my friend Jim Zang. And, and we decided, hey, let's make some small lenses. I told Jim what to make three or four revisions later, I still have the very first I should show somebody those what what veydra Mini primes could have been to show?

Alex Ferrari 7:29
Oh, you gotta, you gotta you gotta send some pictures.

Ryan Avery 7:32
Yeah, we got some pictures of the early prototypes. Now that veydra is our full full time real lens company. The beginnings so. But anyway, we arrived at the design of the mini primes. We manufactured them first, which is not something normally people do. So we took a big leap. And we went on Kickstarter, and everybody locked on to it. We raised quite a bit of money, I think almost $300,000.

Alex Ferrari 7:56
Yeah, you guys had an initial goal of 50.

Ryan Avery 7:59
Yeah, we an initial goal of 50. We wanted to we really only needed $50,000 to pay for some final tooling and some cost overruns that we had done in development. And it turned out that Kickstarter ended up being a huge advertising platform as well, which wasn't something we were expecting. We really just legitimately needed $50,000 to make it happen. And yeah, we raised almost 300 so I was waiting.

Alex Ferrari 8:21
What was what was it like when you started getting that kind of reaction from the public from from from our filmmaking public?

Ryan Avery 8:27
Yeah, I mean, it was it was awesome. We got a huge amount of support. Folks like Adam wilt, who writes for pro video coalition, or did time anyway. And some other people jumped in and did some pretty extensive tests comparing them to things we weren't intending to compare them to like ultra primes. And it it really was well received. And a lot of my friends I have a lot of friends in the filmmaking business, independent shooters, directors of photography for major feature films all across the board and all of them jumped out and bought these lenses so and it's continued sense and the story has developed and new mounts and new lenses and all kinds of fun stuff.

Alex Ferrari 9:06
Now and what made you come up with the idea to even go down this road of trying to compete in the cinema lens cinema prime world?

Ryan Avery 9:15
Yeah, as well. I remember I did it. Although Schneider is definitely not the largest brand in the motion picture optics business. It is a major brand. And we did. We did a lot. I learned a lot and my time at Schneider and when I left I said you know I was actually trying to make these under a different brand name for a number of years. I've been working on this project since since I had had the idea for it since 2010. Actually, but it The timing was not right. There weren't any cameras at the time in 2010. You got to remember that was I think the Canon seven D was kind of the height of it all are the five there was there wasn't a lot read

Alex Ferrari 9:55
on read was just coming out. Yeah, well

Ryan Avery 9:58
read. Yeah, I was actually at nav 2006 where red was launched. So I was there the day of red one. And yeah, and I watched that develop and by 2010 they were well in the game, but there wasn't a thing in that low price point. The gh gh for I don't think was quite a thing like Magic Pocket or even black magic. Yeah, so so that's where we kind of had the idea and and really what it was about wasn't so much The world doesn't need another lens brand. It was more like I thought, I've noticed all these people I'm big you at the time, I was a heavy user of Twitter, I've kind of transitioned over to Instagram and Facebook in more recent years. But at the time, I was really heavy on Twitter, and I saw a lot of people posting pictures of adapters. And as to mention Adam wilt again, he said in one of his articles, he had a Blackmagic Pocket camera quote, hanging for dear life off the back of a 70 to 200 Nightcore.

Alex Ferrari 10:49
I said to myself, and I

Ryan Avery 10:50
just thought to myself, like man, that's the case. Like all these huge lenses, you know, they're great lenses. I mean, you gotta remember at the time, it was like the CMP twos. Yeah, yeah, I was just like, Man, this, this is these lenses are great, but they're really big. And there's this tiny little optics. So I said, let's just take the whole thing and shrink it down. And part of doing that was was making the mirrorless because there's differences in lens designs as to the physical size. And so if we made them really what we call short flange or mirrorless design, it would make them super compact. And I looked at all kinds of stuff. We looked at rehousing things. And we realized really quickly, that rehousing, existing optics wouldn't work because when you rehouse photo lenses, you still get breathing and image shift and other things that a still optic just isn't designed for. So it became apparent to us that we had to do a ground up design. So we made a whole new ground up design for the first four focal lengths. And so that's kind of where the idea came from was all these big lenses or big lenses on tiny cameras and said why not tiny, tiny lenses for tiny cameras,

Alex Ferrari 11:52
high quality, tiny lenses, on tiny cameras? And what were some of the main challenges of actually creating, you know, the first Daedra lens,

Ryan Avery 12:03
the biggest challenges, I think we're getting the physical communicating to the to my engineering partner, Jim, that you know what exactly we needed, because he's an extremely talented optical and mechanical designer, which is actually very rare. It's very rare to find someone that can do both optics and mechanics, when cinema lenses are made inside companies, usually a team of mechanical people and optical people, and they talk to each other and make it work. But Jim did bolts. So the biggest challenge for us was communicating to him. Exactly the look and details. You know, the little fine details that make veydra lens is completely different than most people aren't aware of like the fact that you don't have to shim the lens, you can just slide the focus scale to your appropriate setting. Things like interchangeability of the mounts within the mirrorless system. You know, the common at France, all these things that people just don't really think about. And that was our biggest challenge was getting all those little details in there for the price that we wanted. Vader lift is really should cost $2,000 a piece, there's no reason that they shouldn't other than the fact that we decided that we wanted to give something to the filmmaking community and not make it so much of a profit driven business and more about getting just enough to get it out there and get real tools into people's hands. And that's what we've accomplished.

Alex Ferrari 13:23
That's that's very admirable, especially in a world where people are more profit driven than anything else.

Ryan Avery 13:30
Yeah, I mean, you know, one day, we're probably going to have to raise the prices of Vader lenses just because it was becoming an increasingly larger company. But at the moment, we are able to maintain that that spot, so now is as good of a time as ever to get a veydra lens. Before they may cost more, it's a real thing. And eventually businesses get to a size where Vader is now we've sold 1000s and 1000s of lenses. They're used major feature films all the way down to our bread and butter, which is obviously independent filmmakers. So you know, we're really excited to continue to provide those tools.

Alex Ferrari 14:04
Nick, can you tell me Okay, well, can you tell the audience because I know there's a couple of a few novices out there who probably don't know a lot about lenses. Can you talk about the difference between a cinema lens versus a standard photo lens?

Ryan Avery 14:17
Yeah, the the key the key differences are a few. Number one is obviously the mechanics, which some people have addressed with rehousing. I have good friends at rehousing companies like GL optics, and even duclos lenses, you know, Matthew does some stuff. And those are where you take the mechanics of the mechanics is the first thing the 0.8 module gear to accept a follow focus or a wireless follow focus. Or even just provide that a lot of people obviously pull with their gears by hand and that tactile experience that you know your hand isn't going to slip because you've got that gear in your hand. So the gears on the iris and the the the stepless Iris where there's no where it's a smooth, I And then the gear is on the focus. Right? Yeah. And then in that mechanics is the degree of focus throw. So you need at least preferably around 203 100 is more appropriate cinema. Focus, throw it to the bedroom lenses have.

Alex Ferrari 15:15
So when you say focused or so just kind of like break it down for everybody listening, when you say focus throw means like, on some of the on some photo lenses, when you focus, it's very quick. So you just like kind of move a couple inches. And if you're focusing where you mean throw is like you really got to move, you have a long turn to get into focus. So that means you can really dial in focus and have a better a better kind of cinematic focusing experience is that make sense?

Ryan Avery 15:40
Yeah. And still in still photo, it's all about speed, the optic, the glass has to move as quickly as possible to get to a set focus point that either the camera or the operator has determined. And so they use a very short focus through a very, very short movement. But where, for example, maybe a half an inch would represent the entire infinity to close focus. But if you're shooting motion, where you're trying to get that slow, gradual pole, it's really, really hard to do, unless you have those that full. So the veydra gives you almost two turns of the barrel just to get there. So you can you can really do a nice slow, beautiful focus poll with a with a proper cinema mechanic. That's true of any of the most of the real houses, some of them, they'll do mechanics to try to stretch that out a little bit from the base photo optic. So that's what we're talking about.

Alex Ferrari 16:29
Can you talk a little bit because you've mentioned the term infinity a lot? Can you just tell us the basics of what infinity focus means?

Ryan Avery 16:36
Yeah, infinity focus is when basically the, the depth of field is mitigated to the point that it everything is in focus, and you're focusing on the far horizon or what the lens sees, or what the sensor is capable of seeing as the far horizon. So so it's it's that point where everything in the foreground all the way out is in focus, depending on your aperture setting, which directly plays into it, but that's what infinity focus is. And then sometimes if you can't get infinity focus, that becomes a problem. Yeah, and infinity focus is really key. Because it's the hardest one to get on a cinema lens, it's all lenses, they, the sensor has to be the rear element, or the elements have to be an exact precise distance from the sensor. And if it's too if it's too close to the sensor, then you can achieve infinity focus, and again, if it's too far, so it's a very precise calculation, which is related to the wind

Alex Ferrari 17:35
amount. Now, speaking of mounts, I asked you off off off air about this. And that was when I saw the Vader's a very first thing I said, I was like, Oh, why isn't it for an EF mount? You know, can you talk a little bit about why the Vedas in their current state cannot be on an EF mount.

Ryan Avery 17:54
Yeah, and again, it's tight, it's tied to this concept of being able to achieve infinity focus, which is directly tied, that's the distance of the elements to the sensor or the film plane. And in this particular case, we're talking about flange depth, which is, which is basically the mounting point where the where the lens meets the camera. The distance from that to the sensor is different for different types of camera mounts. So for example, we divided into two categories short flange and long flange. So short plans is what veydra lenses are, which are veydra Mini primes or short plans designs. And those ones have a flange depth of 20 millimeters. So the distance from the back of the lens to the sensor is about 20 millimeters. And on the Pl and EF mount cameras, it's like 52 to 54 millimeters. So there's a huge difference, it's almost double the difference the distance and so how that comes out in veydra lenses and the reason that many Prime's cannot be PL or EF mount is because there's 20 plus millimeters nearly 25 millimeters of space in there, that has to be closed. So the lens would have to be either 20 millimeters further away from the sensor, which means that it wouldn't even be mounted to the camera and we'd have to have all this extra metal to close that gap. Or if you put a veydra Mini prime on a PL camera it would have to go inside the camera so far that you couldn't even reach the gears if we've made an adapter and then again, that's infinity focus so so it's not that we can't do it. It's it's physics. In some cases, it may not physically fit inside because you have to go inside the camera body to make a short flange lens you have that rear element 20 millimeters from there, which means it would have to be all the way inside the Pl mount, which isn't really possible. So

Alex Ferrari 19:44
but but it will focal reducer

Ryan Avery 19:46
help at all? No again because you have to focal reducers work on the concept of taking a long flange like a PL and EF mount design and adapting it to a short flange camera. So the metal that's closing that gap Is the adapter and then their optics inside of there which are doing other things. But so that's why it's not possible to use a focal reducer with many primes. Many primes are made only for mirrorless. There are no adapters possible. And we sell them the hard mounts for a very low price on our website that go from two different mirrorless mounts. So like C mount Micro Four Thirds Sony e mount, Fuji x mount most recently, those are all short flange designs, but EF and PL just are not physically possible what they require a whole new series from Vader to do that

Alex Ferrari 20:34
so and is that in the works? Yeah, we've

Ryan Avery 20:37
been working on a, an EF and PL series for quite some time, it is probably the number one email we get. Be behind what why doesn't this work on EF and PL The next question is always Well, are you working on a new series? And? And the answer is yes, we've been working on one for a while. However, we've had some significant challenges. And we're considering exactly how to move forward on that. So one way or another there will be a veydra f NP L series at some point when that is is still up for debate.

Alex Ferrari 21:12
Now if you know if you put a EF mount down, I'm just asking, if you take the Micro Four Thirds mount and just get an adapter and throw it on an E f, what would happen?

Ryan Avery 21:25
We wouldn't physically fit because the lens would have to be inside of the camera body to work.

Alex Ferrari 21:30
So wouldn't work. So you wouldn't get any image?

Ryan Avery 21:32
Yeah, you would? Well, if you if you just made an adapter where it just went on there and you didn't worry about infinity focus, you probably would only be able to focus at a minimum distance of maybe you are a maximum distance of maybe 10 feet or 15 feet. So in other words, you could never get that horizon shot where everything is in focus, it would only have to be close focus or interviews or something like that.

Alex Ferrari 21:55
So it would be a world that you couldn't make it work, but it just wouldn't be using it at the full extent of what the design was for.

Ryan Avery 22:03
Yeah, exactly. You wouldn't be able to do your wide establishing shot unless you happen to have something five feet in front of the camera or 10 feet in front of the camera kind of thing

Alex Ferrari 22:11
fairly limiting for a lens. Yeah, exactly. Why we don't make it. Now can you talk a little bit about the Micro Four Thirds format in general and what kind of a game changer that was because it was introduced in in, like 2008 or something like that 2000 9am I mess Yeah, it was a still

Ryan Avery 22:28
photo, it was a still photo, we have to thank our friends at Panasonic for that it was a still photo camera. And then they said, Well, hey, let's put some video in this thing. And so I believe that well, there was there were people using the GH one remember with firmware hacks and different things, but the GH four was really the first 4k camera that came out from them in that footprint. And the advantages of the Micro Four Thirds system is it costs a whole lot less, the chip is smaller and cost less to manufacture. Therefore the camera cost less to buy. You gain advantages in workflow because you can, you can use wider lenses and get a little more field of view out of less expensive optics. Again, it just falls through the chain the sensor is less expensive, the image circle is smaller, therefore lenses are cost less than manufacturer. And then you also gain depth of field because obviously with the file, one of the reasons that people really locked on to the Canon five D Mark two in the beginning is because it you could produce a very shallow depth of field at f f 2.8 on a photo lens. And on a Canon five D ob you know a very pleasing shallow depth of field look. But that actually works the other way in video if you're doing documentary style shooting or a number of styles of shooting where shallow depth of field is not possible because you're in a running gun type scenario. That's where the smaller sensor actually plays strengths into that because it gives you a more shallow depth field F 2.8 on a on a micro four thirds sensor versus a Canon sensor. Much of the background is in focus in most situations. Whereas in a bigger sensor, it's actually out of focus so so depends on your style of shooting and what you're looking for.

Alex Ferrari 24:11
Now with now if I would put the wagers on a Blackmagic cinema, am I going to get the full focal length of it or is it get cropped?

Ryan Avery 24:21
Yeah, so we get that that's the you're hitting on all the questions we get every day. But dozens and the first one is people always ask me that question and the answer is focal length is focal length. A 50 millimeter is a 50 millimeter the world around the field of view that you get out of it is different and that's what people are talking about. What we're used to shooting the standard reference is 24 by 36 full frame 35. So like what the Canon five D has, or some of the other like Sony A seven cameras and full mat. Those are 24 by 36. And that is because people were shooting still photography and that was the fourth Math that they used. And they're used to seeing that field of view. So what a normal lens, when we consider a normal lens, if you just take your hands and block out your peripheral field of view, approximately somewhere in the 40 to 50 millimeter range field of view. And that's what people are used to seeing is that 4040 or 50 millimeter focal length, creating that that degree of field of view. So if you take that same lens, but you use a smaller sensor, like a micro four thirds sensor, or even smaller, like on the pocket camera, which is you get a small slice of that field of view. So you just take that little box, that's the size of the sensor. And if you imagine that your hands blocking out your peripheral view, field of vision are the 24 by 36 cents, or the full frame sensor. If take your hands and move them in about 20 or 30%, that's going to be about what you see of the same scene. So it's just the sensor is taking a smaller slice of that scene, and therefore the field of view is smaller. So a 15 millimeter, we speak in terms of equivalency. So if a millimeter would be equivalent to what is an 85 millimeter would look like or similar, I can do the exact math, it's about point eight times so. So if we have a 50 millimeter, it's actually about 144 millimeter on a five D. So you took 144 millimeter lens and put it on a five D and then you took a 50 millimeter put it on the pocket camera, it would be the same field of view. So got it, it's a little confusing, but at the end of the day, it's all about field of view. So a 50 mil is a 50 mil is a 50 mil but the sensor field, it depends on the size of your sensor, and they talk in crop factors. So so it's roughly the the five D sensor, the full frame sensor is roughly 2.8 times larger than the pocket camera. So you have to multiply your focal length to get the same equivalency

Alex Ferrari 26:49
that this is this is why I didn't do well in math. Yeah,

Ryan Avery 26:54
you got to know is I mean, we actually have a new tool coming to veydra.com. That's going to show people visually exactly what that means. So to help people understand, but at the end of the day, the smaller the sensor, the wider the lens, you need to get the same field of view you would get on a full frame camera.

Alex Ferrari 27:10
Got it? Got it unless you're with it with the with the Micro Four Thirds format with a mirrorless format.

Ryan Avery 27:17
Yeah, there's multiple mirrorless formats, the pocket camera being the smallest, and then you know the microphone,

Alex Ferrari 27:23
I'll be, I'll be honest with you, man, I mean, I've become a huge fan of the micro of the pocket camera. And I know everyone's going back to going to forward going like I want to go 8k 20k 50 for what the image is out of that little camera. If it's depending on the kind of kind of look you're looking for is pretty outstanding. And with the Vader's I've seen the footage, it looks gorgeous. It really explains

Ryan Avery 27:50
we're not allowed to say but there are a large, quite a few large major feature studio films that use a lot of visual effects that actually use the pocket camera combined with the veydra Mini primes to create that look. Because the advantage for production on the high end is that it costs on in their opinion, virtually nothing what we would consider a full setup, they would consider camera. D camera, we're talking like z camera exactly way out there. So they add they'll add 10 of those on a shot because they can capture every possible angle and get it in maximum resolution. So

Alex Ferrari 28:27
So let me ask you a question off. And it's obviously off the record, but on the record, and you're not saying who and what but what would they do? Like if you're shooting a major motion picture, obviously, they're not mastering in 1080, they're going to be mastering a probably a minimum of 4k. So what do they do with that 1080 image? Are they blowing that image up? Is it that good that it can blow it up and match it?

Ryan Avery 28:46
Yeah, they're they, they they have resolution, they'll appraise it or but a lot of major feature films are actually finished in 2k. So like for projection purposes show most of the stuff we're seeing. In fact, I just saw some films yesterday in Hollywood that were private screening, and they were shot in for an 8k but mastered in 2k. So I mean, there's a lot of or not mastered in for an 8k, but finished in 2k. So there's a lot of there's a lot of finishing in 2k going on. So those 1080 piece still still have a world there because you're talking about 2k at that point. And so it's a minimal blow up. Yeah, I mean, there's a lot of heavy grading and obviously these are used as VFX reference shots, so they're just going to be grabbing, like a floor or a sky or something and then all the robots get added in later so

Alex Ferrari 29:36
Exactly. And it's a lot more cost effective than getting a whole bunch of Alexa's out to do the exact same thing.

Ryan Avery 29:44
Exactly it's all about application and speed of work and angle. I mean I know some major television shows that use you know Sony A sevens frequently and because the cuts are so fast, you know, nobody notices even though the show is shot on Alexa

Alex Ferrari 29:58
We'll be right back after word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. right fit. I've heard to go even use GoPro sometime, depending on what you're doing. I'm FC. Yeah, I've heard that a lot, too. It's it's a little, it's a different world now than it used to be. Absolutely. That's all about hiding the trick as they say, exactly. Now, I saw Matt, Matthew duclos, who was on your Kickstarter video, what role did he play in the creation of the veydra.

Ryan Avery 30:31
Matthew is a good personal friend of mine and known him for many years. And the key, I came to him with this idea, and mostly I use, I go to Matthew a lot to talk to him about uses of the cameras. And because he's he talks to a lot more filmmakers, I spend a lot of time talking to filmmakers. But he spends even more time because of the nature of servicing their lenses, selling lenses to them. So he told me, you know, some things that he would like to see. And then I just asked him, I said, Listen, would you like to be in the video and explain your perspective on you know, still versus pro optics. And he talked about the mechanics, and then some things we didn't talk about earlier in this podcast. But there's other things like image shift and holding image size when you rack focus, which photo optics do not do? Yeah, I was gonna ask. Okay, well, yeah,

Alex Ferrari 31:24
I'll ask you continue your train of thought. But that is a question I wanted to ask you.

Ryan Avery 31:27
Yeah, so we'll finish that up. But really, Matthew appeared out of interest in properly explaining the differences between the optics, or at least hinting to it and, and also his support of us as an up and coming lens brand. And he really jumped in with us and helped us out but he was not involved in any other way other than he is one of the number one dealers for Vader lenses. Plus lenses provide some excellent service in terms of focus, scale, marketing, and some other features that can be added to make your lenses even higher performance. So that's where Matthew comes in today. But at the beginning, it was he liked us, we were friends, and he wanted to appear to support the brand and see where it could go.

Alex Ferrari 32:10
And now when you were talking about optical shift, if you did you say, yeah, image shift, image shift. So when you're doing image shift, like, Can you explain a little bit about that prompt? Because I know, I know, a lot of a lot of filmmakers listening, you know, and then something I asked actually Matthew at when he was on the show, I'm like, Look, when you are I've seen this in major, major motion pictures, it doesn't matter $200 million, or in The Godfather, it doesn't matter. There's this kind of sometimes shift, especially when you rack a focus from far too close. And there's sometimes there's that shift is that what you're talking about, or is that

Ryan Avery 32:48
what you're talking about is focus breathing, we just think a related yet different concepts. So there's two concepts we're talking about here, in addition to the mechanics, so it's not enough to buy a lens that just has mechanics and looks like a cinema lens. There, it actually has to have the features that that work for motion image capture. And those are two issues is image shift and focus breathing. They're separate but connected. So image shift happens, where if you focus on something that's perfectly frameless, you have a very tightly framed scene where you have like a coffee cup sitting on a on a counter or something. If you if you rack focus, so you go in focus, then out of focus, let's say the shot has something that comes in the foreground, and then you go back to the coffee cup. And in the background, what will happen is image shift is where the optics move, when you focus the lens, the optics are actually moving, they're not just moving back and forth, they're actually moving small amounts left to right. And that has to do with just a kind of slop if you will, that's a bad term. But everything in lenses even photo lenses is done to a high degree of precision but but in photo optics, it doesn't matter if those those elements slop around a little bit, just small amounts because the image isn't it's not noticed you don't go back when you go back into focus. Usually you've reframed or, or whatever. So it doesn't really matter for still photo but in video, you see it physically. So what happens is, if you focus that coffee cup and dead center, and then you rack focus to something close, and then you go back to it, that coffee cup can appear to have moved two or three inches to the right or left, because it's image shift where the optics have shifted to the left or the right a little bit and it's created it made it look like the coffee cup moved even though it didn't. So that's kind of the idea behind image shift. Now is there is there a lot of that in there obviously is no image shift are very minimal and the very, very minimal in the vedras. It's even better in higher end optics. It has to do with the concept of tele centricity, which is basically how the light moves through the lens and the way that the elements are constructed and held in place as they move. And so that is something that's present only in cinema Cinema designs, because when you're Making a true cinema design such as the vedras, what you get is you, we pay attention to that image shift and make sure that things return to the same spot by by ensuring that the elements do not move because we're not interested in speed of movement, which is something that's very critical for still photo lenses. But in cinema, you're actually looking at the opposite, you're looking to slow things down and make it appear more beautiful and fluid as it moves through the image rather than this kind of quick, jerky motion, which ends up creating images. Now,

Alex Ferrari 35:29
um, how are the lens constructed like materials are there any special glass or coating that makes them special,

Ryan Avery 35:36
we do apply our own coating formulation as all manufacturers do it has to do with the glass type, the look of the lens has to do with the glass type in the glass and the in the coatings that are selected, we made a very special calculation for these we went for a little bit of a lower contrast, more almost vintage appeal while still remaining the 4k resolution. And that has to do with the coatings in the glass type that we selected. But we had a unique challenge with Vedran that we had to hit a certain price point. So rather than have these lenses be a little bit better for $4,000. We said we don't really that's not the poor purpose, the purpose is to get low cost high quality primes into independent filmmakers hands. So so we made some, some changes and some some hard decisions. And so we actually use all spherical elements, they're all kind of rounded a lot of a lot of more expensive lenses will use a spherical elements that aren't perfectly round to create sharper corners and things. But we went with all spherical design with some special coatings. And the result is that you can you can almost choose the amount of flare if you use a matte box or you don't, you're going to get a different look, we made them kind of a variable look based on how much light you lead into the lens and how you use it as a true creative tool rather than just that and as far as construction goes, they're all metal, there is no plastic in the major lenses other than the lens caps. They're they're a real solid hefty piece of equipment.

Alex Ferrari 37:03
And what kind of flares does it give you?

Ryan Avery 37:07
It gives you, we can actually get some pretty crazy ones. In fact, there are some reviews out there with people complaining about the flavor, but we consider that to be creative choice. So if you shoot it with no matte box, no shade because it takes a regular you know $10 ruin rubber shade. Sure. If you shoot it without that and you point the sun right down the barrel, it's going to flare to the point of creating a low a very low contrast, like if you had a low contrast filter. And we could have made the lenses physically longer and eliminated that with a few tricks. But we decided to actually leave that with a shorter put the elements right up front and leave it there so that you can decide how much flair you want based on how you shade the lens.

Alex Ferrari 37:45
I actually was at when I was at cinna gear, I just missed you. But I was at your booth and I grabbed I forgot what the camera was, but we aimed it at the sun. Yep. And it starred It was like a star filter. It was beautiful.

Ryan Avery 38:00
Yeah, that's when you stop down the lens. The major lenses have a variable Iris. So it's another feature that we have in them, where they're the iris appears more rounded at the wider settings. And it appears more like a star pattern at the longer setting at the like the t 16 t 22. So if you really want to minimize that star Look, if you want to maximize it, then take out your ND filters and just put it on there it takes regular 77 screw in indies or a matte box. But if you want to get that look, then you leave it out. If you do don't want that look, you want a more rounded you put the iris a little bit larger setting like t eight or T 5.6 and put some indies on there.

Alex Ferrari 38:39
And what and what kind of bokeh does the Vedas give you in your opinion,

Ryan Avery 38:44
it gives you a it's not the most rounded because irises are very expensive and it's one of the things that would have made them much more expensive, but it gives you a nice round shape at the T 22 or 32.2 we actually limited the Vader lenses these could have been announced and we could have marked them as T 1.9 lenses probably would have sold better but the reality is that when we shot them at t 1.9 in the original design, they were very soapy looking at the 0.95 lenses on the market that are in micro four thirds all are really really super soapy low contrast look and we just decided to mechanically limit the iris to T 2.2 something that we get a lot of criticism for particularly in the Micro Four Thirds format, because T 2.2 is not very fast and micro four thirds for that shallow depth of field. But we decided to go for quality of image so we went to T 2.2 which still gives you a nice pleasing round smooth bokeh, which we have present and it's more noticeable obviously in the longer focal lengths but it's there. Now you but

Alex Ferrari 39:49
when you shoot this wide open, you get a nice crisp image. Yeah, can you soften it vignetting or any softness on the edges.

Ryan Avery 39:55
That is exactly why we created it at t 2.2. Even though it's technically A much faster lens inside. If we d limited it, for lack of a better term, you would, you would actually get more light in there. But it would not be the same quality, we were going for a certain quality and contrast and consistency. And to do that we had to limit the T stop to teach you point

Alex Ferrari 40:15
two. Now the one other one other thing I wanted to kind of point out to everybody is that the prime the mini prime set all way the same, correct.

Ryan Avery 40:24
For the most part, it's we've departed from that a little bit, unfortunately, because the longer focal links in our new 19 millimeter is a little bit heavier. But in general, they're within a few ounces of each other and the original four, original four or five are all the same way, the 1216 2535, and 50 are all the same size all the same way, the 85 in the 19 are physically longer. But the gear position is the same for a fast workflow. But they weigh a little bit more so But mostly, we have a tons and tons of gimbal users it's probably one of the number one applications for veydra lenses is people put a gh five on an orgy h4 on a gimbal like a Ronin and go for it. So it really helps with that because you don't have to balance and change your setup each time you change your focal length.

Alex Ferrari 41:09
So basically, I just want to impress upon everyone listening is you know, a lot of times you see these prices, like you know, the prices of a lens are 800 $1,000 2000 $4,000 there's an immense amount of technology and man hours to get to that point. Is that a fair statement?

Ryan Avery 41:25
Yeah, I mean, it's the average cost for development of a series of primes from any company can range from 1 million to 510 million plus, and you got to realize what and that's just to make a wins, that's, you know, four to $5,000. So there's a lot of lenses out there. And that represents a huge amount of work from the people that have done that. With veydra. We did our own investment. And then we received future and further investment from Kickstarter. And the combination of that just barely made it happen. And

Alex Ferrari 41:54
yeah, that's a pretty, pretty affordable startup.

Ryan Avery 41:57
Yeah, exactly. And we maintain our pricing to be as low as it can be. And we will always do that. Even if we change our prices, it will always be the lowest possible price based on the current manufacturing. But there's a lot that goes into it. There's a lot of glass elements, coatings, polishing, you know, and to get that smooth feel because all the majors have a nice smooth focus, an iris feel, really an experience of a $5,000 Cinema lens, or a $4,000 Cinema lens in a tiny format, or tiny size for carrying around and shooting so

Alex Ferrari 42:29
and where did the word where the name Pedro come from?

Ryan Avery 42:32
Yeah, so actually, I can think my friend, Phil Holland, who I was talking to, and I said, Look, man, I got to name this lens company. And I had some names, and we all had names. But at the end of the day, he had veydra. That was he said, Hey, you can use Vader. And I said, Thank you. And it probably regrets that decision today is it's become a big

Alex Ferrari 42:53
a big because the product is good.

Ryan Avery 42:54
Yeah, exactly. But you know, it's kind of funny that that was his baby, his name his baby. And he was saving it for a different project. But he ended up letting me use it. And so I eternally thankful to Phil for that. But at the end of the day, when it comes from is the Greek word fe which ph h E, which the root word which means bright. And so it's a play on words on the term bright.

Alex Ferrari 43:16
That's awesome. That's awesome. So I'm going to ask you the same three questions, I ask all of my guests. So prepare yourself, these are the Oprah questions. All right. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life,

Ryan Avery 43:31
probably the lesson that took me the longest to learn is the importance of people. The people are the reason we do this. And I invite all manufacturers and really anybody doing anything to recognize that and it was a hard lesson, I had to learn over the years that people are the most important thing. And so we carry that philosophy into veydra and other businesses that I operate in this in this market, or in this industry. And I can tell you that we are extremely focused on people at veydra. If you buy a Vader lens, I guarantee you there is no other company in the world where you'll spend $1,000 on the lens, and we will overnight lenses to you if anything happens like we do what everything we can to make sure that you're happy with your purchase, and know that the company is behind you. And you're supported. And it's that focus on people. So that's something for me personally, that also carries over into veydra.

Alex Ferrari 44:22
So you're not like a nameless, giant corporation that it will remain nameless. But if you say oh, there's something wrong with the lens, you can't even get to tech support or even anyone even respond to you.

Ryan Avery 44:33
Yeah, I am the CEO of veydra. And even though veydra is a quite a large brand now I still personally answer every single tech question. If you get to ask a question to veydra Ryan Avery is gonna answer it every single time so you can get the guy that actually did the design specification, runs the company and telling you exactly what you need to hear whatever it is you want to know.

Alex Ferrari 44:55
See, you're a very large mom and pop operation.

Ryan Avery 44:59
Yes, we are And we work very hard on maintaining that. And we've had a lot of opportunities that go away from that over the years. And I've said, No, it's just simply not what Pedro is. And if it gets too big, then we're not servicing the people. And then there's no point to it.

Alex Ferrari 45:15
Fair enough. Now, what are three of your favorite films of all time? Oh, boy, let's

Ryan Avery 45:20
see. I like any other guy. My age, I probably like Goodfellas. A little bit too much.

Alex Ferrari 45:26
Yes, amen. Yeah.

Ryan Avery 45:28
You know, and there's classics like the Godfather films. I always liked Some Like It Hot. I just think that that's a great film. And, you know, Marilyn Monroe and her best so I, you know, a little bit of everything, but I'd say pretty much anything. Some of the films from the 90s I think the night early, early to late 90s was a really great filmmaking time for for, for my generation. And, you know, the older phones, obviously, but I would say those three are Goodfellas, Some Like It Hot and maybe. I blanked on The Omen godfather that I really like, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 46:03
Now where? Where can people purchase vaginas? And where can people find you?

Ryan Avery 46:08
Yes, you can find us on Vader calm. That's our main site. If you pose a question there, it will be answered by me. If you want to use one of our retailers, which we recommend, they offer tremendous value add. We I mentioned duclos lenses, we have multiple dealers, but duclos lenses, b&h photo, Amazon, there's a large number of places Basically, any way you want to buy our lenses, there will be a way for you to buy it. And we have a great network of smaller dealers all across the country so you can get local service if you're in the United States. And we have a huge international dealer network. We have some awesome representation in companies like the countries like the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, Italy, Japan, Hong Kong. I mean, we have we have presence around the world now. How

Alex Ferrari 46:57
is Asia being received around the world?

Ryan Avery 47:00
Yeah, so it's interesting. We actually manufacture our lenses in our own factory in Shanghai. This is not some some, you know, company that's making them it's actually veydra making them. And ironically enough, China is our smallest market. We haven't had anybody really pick those up. But the biggest place that we have people pick them up seems to be Germany and the UK I think the UK has really that's in part due to our dealers there in the UK, we have MTF services, that does a great job in both service and sales of veydra lenses. And UK market from the beginning the Kickstarter was huge. I've actually met some of our backers in airports in Europe that were just happened to be passing in the night and said, oh, let's meet up. So it's it's really a very dedicated group of people in the UK, in Germany in the Netherlands. And I think that's in part due to our very strong dealers that we have. They're

Alex Ferrari 47:51
very cool. And if anybody wants to get a hold of you just just a website,

Ryan Avery 47:55
yeah, where you can email us directly [email protected] I will answer it.

Alex Ferrari 47:59
Man Brian, thank you so much for being on the show and answering the questions and as a filmmaker I really want to thank you for for putting out such a cool product and such a giving power to the filmmaker with high end optics at an affordable price and I truly do appreciate it man.

Ryan Avery 48:16
We appreciate everyone all of our independent filmmakers and anybody whatever level you're at, we're here to help and we really appreciate everything and thanks for having me on today.

Alex Ferrari 48:24
Thanks man. I hope you guys got something out of that I know I did. And I wanted to thank Ryan so much for being on the show and dropping some some really nice knowledge bombs and inspiration man I mean seriously guy just you know bootstraps himself goes on Kickstarter and builds up a you know fairly large mini mom and pop shop for lenses in the world of lenses which are is pretty competitive. And when things cost millions and millions of dollars to develop these guys were able to develop an amazing little lens for you know, 50 50 Grand 100 grand to get their their prototype up and try to help filmmakers out is pretty inspirational man. So I hope you guys got some inspiration from this interview. I know I did. So I'm gonna go build my lens. Now. Now I'm joking. Don't forget, if you want the Show Notes for this episode, head over to indie film hustle.com forward slash 161, which has all of the links that we discussed and things that we discussed on the show. And yes, mag is coming soon. We will be releasing mag in early August. I'm locking down a date yet for iTunes. But please keep that date open. We are going to be talking more and more about it in July about how we're going to release Meg on iTunes, our strategies and what help I need from you guys to break iTunes. That's right. We're going to try to break iTunes and I'll tell you how we're going to do that. And I know a lot of you guys have been emailing me mess Jimmy asked me, what's the next project? What's the next film I'm doing? What's going on? What are you up to. And right now, I'm still deep in post production on that Legendary Pictures show that I did call the space program. And we should be almost done in post, hopefully by sometime in July. But I've been preparing and planning my next, hopefully two feature films, I'm going to shoot back to back. So stay tuned. And also, by the way, I thought it was really exciting to let you guys know that this is Mike was at the Cannes Film Festival, not in the festival, it was in the market, we have a distributor there representing it for international. And we got some interest internationally, which I thought was amazing, you know. So we'll find out more about where this is made will be played internationally. Other than the on demand, stuff that the VOD that we're going to be doing ourselves. But I thought that was just really cool that this is this is mag was sitting at the at Can you know and, and people and buyers were looking at it. So it's pretty amazing that that little film was an amazing journey. And I'm very, very proud of it. So I cannot wait for you guys to see what craziness we did last year last summer. It's been too long. And I want to get it out there as soon as humanly possible. So thank you guys so much. Don't forget to head over to filmmaking podcast calm. And leave us an honest review on iTunes. It really helps out the show a lot. And keep an eye out for some really cool stuff I'm going to be doing in the next coming months. I have a lot of plans after I get off this show. So prepare yourselves because there's going to be hopefully an avalanche of content coming to you. And hopefully we'll be able to help you guys on your filmmaking journey. So keep that hustle going. keep the dream alive and I'll talk to you soon.




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