[Video] Why You Might Need a Mattebox

For any of you DSLR video shooters out there, you might not know why you may need some of the equipment you often see on some of the larger rigs found on major studio sets. Well the guys over at Cinevate show you exactly why you might need one of those tools called a mattebox. Matteboxes are essentially barn doors for your camera lens and allow you to control flares and the subtleties of light that make a good film into a great film. They also show you how using different filters can really make parts of your movie stand out.

No mattebox.

With a mattebox.

A cloudy sky shot with no filter.

The same sky with the addition of an ND filter.


You can check out the rest of their examples and their original post at the Cinevate blog.

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Why do videographers always use matteboxes and still photographers (who may be using the exact same camera and lens) never use a mattebox? 

Maybe cuz they can be kinda heavy? Still photographers like to hand hold.

Let's Go DSLR's picture

I use a lens hood, which as far as I can tell pretty much accomplishes the same thing, no?

I have a cinema bundle (pretty much what you see at the top of the thread) and at first I got it because I wanted to make film , but then started to use it for landscape and time lapses and to be honest it really makes a difference way beyond the lens hood.
With a good monitor you have a closer look at what your final print is going to look like (I am an on camera guy , hate cropping in post), the ability to control flares and "square" your frame on camera is a great help once you get used to it.On the other side and this is NOTHING TO DO with photography itself , the psychological impact on people when you are going to shoot open spaces portraits and composites is quiet something. Models see you behind that huge thing on a tripod preparing your lights and one can tell they see you different. Comments from experienced models like "Wow , I never felt like Hollywood before" . They take it way more serious and work a lot harder to be easily directed... as I said this is NOTHING TO DO with photography itself , but it does change things.

Tran-Shawn Yu's picture

I think they got the audio mixed up, because after applying the ND filter and going from F11 to F4, he said you get more depth of field... using a ND and going from f11 to f4 would do the exact opposite and give you less depth of field. 

Cinevate's picture

Oops! You're totally right, don't know how I missed that. I'll be adding a correction note to the video description and blog post. Thanks for picking up on that!

Someday I will make a short vid on how and why a mattebox can make a huge difference in your still photography ... Call me crazy , but I am very happy with my results even if that means carry a coffin with me and walking 3 hours to the peak of a mountain.