New matte box, but... [Movie camera related]

My new PROAIM matte box arrived today, for my Aaton LTR-54 camera. I’m quite impressed by its construction, and doubly impressed that it only took six days from the day I ordered it to arrive from India. Can you imagine how excited I was to mount it on my camera?

The matte box came with a variety of ‘doughnuts’ – rings at the matte box/lens interface to keep light from hitting the lens. I chose the one that fit my lens. I put the French flags on. I put the filter holders in the slots. (More on that in a minute.) And then I mounted the matte box on the Aaton’s support rods.

Oops. The matte box is 1 cm too high for the lens. The box itself is attached to the mounting block by two arms. One is a flat piece of aluminum (except for one side, which is machined hollow). The other is an integral part of the block. No way to remove it. I’ve emailed the company, hoping that with the inexpensive workforce they can whip out a new mounting block. But that, of course, is a long-shot.

The right side bracket attaches to the integral arm of the mounting block. According to my Swiss Army Knife, the integral arm is 1 cm thick. That’s convenient. I should be able to merely move the bracket from the top of the integral arm to the bottom, and that will lower that side by the required 1 cm.

The left-side arm, the flat one, is attached to the block with two screws. It is attached to the matte box by one screw, which runs through a ~3 cm spacing tube. That will have to be replaced. I don’t know where I can get a small piece of aluminum stock. Assuming I can find one, I think I can make a new arm by removing the existing arm, tracing the angled bit that attaches to the block, rotating the arm such that the end is 1 cm lower than the original, tracing that, copying the tracing to the aluminum stock, cutting it out with a hacksaw, drilling three holes, finishing it with a fine file and some steel wool, and then spray-painting it black. Or just see if I can find a machinist in the Yellow Pages.

I mentioned the filter holders. The matte box has two stationary, and one rotating stage. The front stationary filter holder slid in snugly. The rear one went in about 3/4 of the way and then stopped. WTFO? There’s nothing in the slot to stop it! Eventually I discovered that two screws on the rotating stage were protruding slightly into the stationary filter’s slot. I used the hacksaw on my Swiss Army Knife to cut the ends off, and everything is hunky-dory as far as the filers go.

This might be easier than I thought. I’ve moved the bracket to the bottom of the integral arm, and the lens and hole are aligned. I think I can shave off a bit of the stand-off on the left, and just make a 1.5 cm oval with a couple of holes in it to attach that side to the arm.

Glad you have a new toy to play with. :smiley:

Isn’t a Matte Box what they used for superimposing scenes and masking before computers were invented? :rolleyes:

Here’s the kind I got. They have two primary purposes: To keep light off the lens, and to hold filters. You could put a matte (e.g., binoculars or keyhole) to give the impression of looking through something, if you want. Not so much ‘superimposing scenes’ though. Here’s an article on mattes.

With this matte box I can have, say, a UV filter and a #85B daylight correction filter in the stationary stages, and a polarizing filter in the rotating stage. Or a graduated filter in a stationary stage and a pola in the rotating stage, or whatever combination I need. Much more handy than stacking round filters on the end of the lens (which could cause vignetting).

These aren’t mine, but here’s what my camera looks like with a matte box and follow-focus attached: one, two.

The technique mentioned in your linked article is what I think of when I hear the term Matte Box. I seem to remember reading that the painted glass thing was used in “Gone With the Wind”, am I right?

I used to have some Cokin filters for my 35mm still cameras years back. I think I used a graduated brownish filter for sunsets. Done with Photoshop now of course.

Enjoy your new toy.

It ain’t pretty, but it works.

Front view
Rear view
Right bracket

It was still used as recently as the 1990s.