CineD is always searching for a way to connect creators and manufacturers – and, of course, to help filmmakers show their work. This is why we teamed up with FUJIFILM to show our filming community work that has been done with FUJIFILM cameras. Please meet Arturo Engel and his wife Lauren (together: Arturo+Lauren), who specialize in architectural photography and cinematography. “In the Spotlight” is proudly sponsored by FUJIFILM.
Arturo and Lauren simply call themselves “Arturo+Lauren,” and you can check out their website here (and their instagram here). They live in LA and describe themselves as filmmakers and photographers of architecture, interiors, and hotels.
This passion is clearly reflected in their piece below, which is the subject of today’s interview. In it, Arturo & Lauren take you on a journey through the luxurious (and quite impressive) ME Dubai Hotel, designed by Zaha Hadid. Check it out below!
In the Spotlight With FUJIFILM – Arturo+Lauren
Currently based in: Los Angeles, California
Language(s) spoken: English, Spanish, Cantonese and Mandarin
Occupation: Filmmakers and photographers of architecture, interiors and
Q: How did you get started in our industry?
A+L: We both started doing real estate photography, and we “evolved” into commercial architecture and interiors over the years. Filmmaking was also a field that we first implemented during the “dslr video revolution” back in 2009.
During the last decade, we have been evolving and perfecting the craft. It was a challenging learning curve at the beginning, because architecture and interior videos were still new, so there were limited resources to learn from.
Our initial goal and motivation was trying to replicate 3D rendering videos in video form, which was a new concept. We were also inspired to capturing time lapses of light in architecture.
We recently finished a production in Dubai, where we filmed the only hotel designed by architect Zaha Hadid. We are also photographing and filming assignments on a regular basis as our clients finish their architecture projects every month.
Some of them are willing to appear talking about their project in the video, but others prefer us to rather focus on the narrative of the space.
What types of productions do you mostly shoot?
We shoot residential projects, but we like to mix it up a bit with larger buildings, commercial office spaces and hospitality. Our specialization is an interesting one because the variety of spaces and client needs that we find are pretty diverse.
For example, it’s so different to shoot a hotel for a hotel company, to shoot a furniture commercial, or a home for an architect.
What is your dream assignment/job
Well, architecture and design. Also, Lauren is very much into hospitality, and that’s one of the reasons why we lean into that field.
In the work that you are presenting us, now that it is done, what would you have done differently throughout the production?
I think we are pretty satisfied with the end result but as always, a few more production days would have been good for the final result.
What type of creative is 100% happy with the result?
It’s an interesting question, but I would say someone who is more into the business side of photography that sees it more than transactional and knows that decent quality will still attract clients, than being a creative that’s constantly trying to evolve.
What current camera, lenses and sound equipment do you use?
We have been using the Fuji X system for a few years now. We have a few X-T4 camera bodies and X-H2s. And we love the color and the overall image and feel that they produce. It’s also so surprising to see how these still cameras perform in video.
We were previously working with digital cinema cameras such as the Canon C200, Blackmagic Ursa Mini or Red DSMC2 and to be honest we are not missing much from them. The reason we decided to go for Fuji X was a super specific “problem” that we ran into. For our work, it’s mandatory to use lenses or other systems that allow shifting the lens in relation to the camera body; to maintain the straight lines and be able to compose much more freely.
Then we bought a Cambo Actus G view cam/tech adapter (link), and we realized that It doesn’t work properly with full frame cameras and cameras with thick grips. This is where we decided to go with the Fuji X. We use full frame glass for both stills and video, and we take advantage of the projected image circle by those lenses.
For photography, we lean more to the Cambo Actus system with modified Canon EF glass (Canon 11-24mm and 24-70mm II). For video, however, we prefer something more lightweight. That’s when we go for our Nikon prime lenses with a simple tilt shift adapter and a Nikon G to Canon adapter (Samyang XP 10mm, Samyang XP 14mm, Nikon 20, 28, 35, 50 and 85mm).
Aside from these “niche” lenses, we also have a few Fuji native prime and zoom lenses that we picked because of the compact size and good optical performance. Audio wise, we have a simpler approach; we use a few Comica lav mics and a zoom H1 recorder for ambient sound.
You chose to shoot your project with the FUJIFILM X-T4 camera. Did you impose on yourself any limitations like not shooting with a tripod?
We didn’t have any self-imposed limitation rules, but we always avoid filming fast movement, we prefer subtle movements and handheld as well.
What’s your favorite lighting equipment, and why did you choose that kit over other solutions?
We shoot with natural light 90% of the time, as It would be so crazy to light large spaces properly, specially for video. The understanding of the light path and the way that it hits a building in the different seasons of the year and weather conditions is our best tool.
Do you use drones/gimbals in your productions? If so, what is the most effective way you’ve found of deploying them?
Our golden rule for motion is no matter what we use to film with (slider, gimbal, drone) it has to look the same, same speed, same style.
What editing systems do you use and are you satisfied working with them?
We use Final Cut Pro X and Davinci Resolve. We prefer Final Cut for everything because it is so fast and computer efficient; except when we want to get rid of noise, flickering or create complex tracking masks, that’s where Davinci Resolve really excels.
How much of your work do you shoot in “flat picture profile” and what is your preferred way of color correcting?
Shooting in a flat picture profile is crucial for us as we always need the maximum dynamic range these cameras can offer as the lighting contrast when filming architecture and interiors is extreme.
We have been filming with a custom PROVIA profile for a while, where every value was dialed down for maximum flexibility in post-production. Based on our own tests, the results were better than with flog, but the story changes now as we like Flog2 more. The highlight retention and color flexibility is greatly improved with this new log profile.
How frequently do you travel and do you have any tips when it comes to packing your gear?
We often travel for work and when video sliders, gimbals, and drones started to evolve and get smaller it changed everything for us. There became no need for large drones, sliders or gimbals anymore, not even for local assignments.
When the slider track is not enough for the movement we have in mind, we simply use a gimbal with a hoverboard or with inline skates. Which is the same for when we use drones indoors from time to time. Especially, when a movement is so tricky to execute due to the shape or the distribution of the space.
We love documenting our process, that’s the reason we produce a behind the scenes video for every major project we do. It has helped us with our brand and with maintaining a strong relationship and familiarity with our clients and other people in the industry.
Full disclosure: This “In The Spotlight” series of interviews is sponsored by FUJIFILM.