Social Media Invitation

Hi Everyone!

Social media is a mixed blessing for many reasons. One of the biggest problems we have as erotic artists is that any large corporate platform can ban adult material at any time (as has already happened on many previous occasions- Google AdWords, Paypal, etc.).

At the moment, Twitter is the most supportive platform, but we’re only one CEO decision away from losing our complete social media presence. As things like forums and interest-specific groups have fallen into disuse we are left at the mercy of large companies.

What would be ideal would be to have a semi-private platform which we control, a bit like the RE forum was back in the day, but which can talk to all the other semi-private platforms so people can still talk to each and discover each other’s work.

There’s an imperfect but promising solution to this called federation, and the most interesting platform for this at the moment is something called Mastodon. It works very much like Twitter, except that you sign up to a specific “instance”, a server which talks to other instances but which remains under the control of the admins who run it.

As an experiment I’d like to invite Restrained Elegance and Silk Soles members to join us on our new chat platform while we try it out. You can sign up here (it’s free): https://www.kinkyelephant.com.

There’s a GOTCHA – I think once you’ve signed up and verified your email, you need to sign in with your email address, NOT your chosen username.

OR: you can sign up via any other Mastodon instance, for example the big one run by the founder of the system at https://mastodon.social. Then you can just follow me: @RestrainedElegance@kinkyelephant.com.

At the moment what you’ll see is largely similar to my twitter timeline (because that is the easiest way to get some content on there to test it out). If the tests prove positive, I’ll be posting lots of teasers and tasters on there, and also promise to keep politics out of it! (Once it is up and running and no longer echoing my twitter feed anyway).

If this works, I’m planning to invite other models, photographers, fetish producers and fans to join us on https://KinkyElephant.com and build a kinky community that isn’t at the mercy of big business. I’ve no idea if it will work. I’d love to have you join in and help me find out.

Hywel

Photo and video gear for sale

Hi Everyone

I’m getting rid of some older photo and video gear to clear out some space in the RE kit room (and because Ariel has rightly gone on strike until the kit room is in a safer, less-cluttered state to work in).

I’ll be putting stuff on eBay, but I’d rather the kit went to kinksters who might shoot wicked things with it!

To that end I’ve got a few “package deals” on offer to anyone who would like to acquire a shooting setup.

I’ll get photos etc. together in due course as I’ll need those to post on eBay anyway, but if you’re interested in taking any of the packages off my hands as a job lot to shoot with, it would be a lot easier for me and a lot more satisfying to send kit off to a good new home. (I hate getting rid of gear, have I ever mentioned that?

General Note: Postage

I’ve not yet priced up posting and packaging, which is one of the reasons I’ve not got this stuff on eBay yet. So prices here EXCLUDE P&P. Happy to post stuff but we will need to add P&P at cost, email me at webmaster@restrainedelegance.com to discuss. Or you can collect in person for nothing, of course.

So what am I getting rid of?

Micro Four Thirds Shooting Setup

  • Panasonic GH4. Superb video/stills hybrid camera, the best small camera set-up for shooting 4K video. Used on many RE productions, including “The Underground” and Pony Girl series ES features. Also useful for stills- I have shot a few RE sets with it.
  • Panasonic 7/14 mm f/4 wide angle lens
  • Panasonic 12-35 mm f/2.8 – an excellent quality standard zoom lens
  • Panasonic 45mm macro lens
  • Gorgeous Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 “see in the dark” manual focus prime lens. It’s this lens that makes me most reluctant to sell the GH4, it’s a stunner.
  • Olympus 12-60mm f/2.8-4 4/3rd lens with 4/3 to micro 4/3 adaptor. Full pro quality lens, lovely optics, I’ve shot many videos with it and also landscape photos up to 24″ x 36″
  • metabones speedbooster adaptor for Canon EF lenses to micro 4/3
  • battery grip and extra batteries- all you to run all day (and into the night) on one set of batteries. I used this in the mountains for extended timelapse, but it is great for stills shooting as well.

Potentially also a Libec video tripod to give a complete video shooting set-up. (That’s what we shot with on the British Fetish Film Festival for example).

Potentially also including a Panasonic GF1 pocketable camera with detachable electronic viewfinder, 12mm and 20mm pancake prime lenses. Mostly useful for stills, does shoot video but only to 720p rather than 1080p I believe. Still, useful as a master wide cam for two camera shoots to cover yourself just in case the main cam is blocked, I’ve used it as such in the past.

Why I am Selling It?

Yeh, I’m asking myself the same question. Basically it is down to space in the kit room and space in the car when we go on location. Although the GH4 is a kick ass camera, it doesn’t share lenses with the rest of my set-up so easily. (The Metabones adaptor works, but it’s not as good as native lenses). This means an extra packing case on every trip, and I find myself increasingly relying on my Sony camera for all the stuff I used to use the GH4 for, because it kills two birds with one stone, being a great backup to both the Hasselblad and the RED.

It is a wrench, but Ariel is right, we need the space and having a complete lens kit for micro four thirds just takes up too much space.

Price

New, this set-up cost well over £7000! Based on eBay recent sales, the GH4 is worth around £500 and the lenses 400+400+300+400+250+400 = £2150. The GF1 with lenses maybe £250. The libec tripod around £100.

So there’s at least £3000 value in the package. Will anyone give me £2500 for the lot? It would set you up for video production nicely- you might need to add a shotgun mic (Rode or similar) and some lights if you haven’t got any, but potentially it’s a two-camera set-up, even.

DJI Osmo+ hand held gimbal camera

It’s one of these: LINK. It’s a handheld gimbal for steady shots as you move, built in camera with zoom lens, and you use your phone as a monitor. Shoots 4K, excellent for roaming around shots and the zoom lens makes it very much more versatile than similar stuff (or a gimbal for your phone, I know because that’s what I tried first).

Why Am I Selling It?

I LOVED the shooting experience and form factor of this, shot quite a few things with it at our location trip in Cornwall, including Ariel and Penny in the hot tub. It does slow mo, it’s generally a delight to use. So why I am selling it?

Because I liked the form factor so much I bought a hand-held gimbal for my Sony A7Rii, and I find myself taking and using that in preference to the DJI.

Price

New is about £580, eBay shows they are going for around £450 second hand, yours for £400 if you use it for kinky productions.

Canon shooting outfit: Canon 7D and L series zooms

Canon 7D used for countless RE films and stills sets, including top sellers like Sophia Smith Bedroom Slavegirl. Alexander Lightspear still shoots sets for RE using his 7D.

Canon L-series 24-70mm f/2.8 and 16-35mm f/2.8 zooms.

This outfit would set you up with a complete pro-quality shooting set-up for stills and video with older but top-notch-of-their-era zoom lenses. I’ve used this camera and lenses to shoot a wedding, vintage fashion, and loads of RE sets.

Why am I selling it?

I need the space in the kit-room. I don’t use these two zooms much any more – I prefer primes for stills (which I am not selling, sorry), and the Canon zooms I do use are staying on my RED. So I can part with this camera and the two zooms which work best on it without compromising my current shooting kit.

Price

Body is around £300. Lenses are 450 + 600 = £1050. Value £1350, I’ll sell for £1100.

Gekko Kelvin Tile LED video lighting setup

The Gekko Kelvin tiles are bi-colour LED 1×1 panels which were the workhorse video lighting for RE for several years; Slave Auction and most of the other early ES films were shot using them. They can be operated by mains or by V-lock battery (which is fantastic for location shoots). They are dimmable, and the colour temperature is adjustable from about 2500K to 7000K ish via dials on the back. They’ve got removable plastic diffuser panels on front so you can choose harder or softer light.

Add the Kelvin Tile Paintbox, though, and they transform to a complete coloured light solution. You can dial in primary colours, any gel colour you think of, adjust saturation and brightness, or control any of the six physical LED colours directly (each LED is actually a red, a green, a blue, a warm white, a cool white and an amber and all can be controlled directly).

Unlike cheap LED’s, their colour rendition is EXCELLENT- and more importantly, variable. You can dial in a plus or minus green/magenta tint with the paintbox controller, which is extremely useful when matching natural light or other lighting on location.

If you are a DMX wizard, you can control via computer, but for us mere mortals the control box is necessary.

Why am I selling them?

Because I love the technology so much that I’ve invested in their bigger, badder, actual-Hollywood-film brother, an Arri Skypanel S60.

There are two caveats about these lights. 1) Because they have six colours of LED and most of them are dimmed to give the right white balance at any one time, they are not as bright as some solutions. I ran them in banks of two or three to make up for this, which also gives the nice side effect of broader, softer and more flattering light. 2) The buggers do have a bit of a tendency to overheat and blink if used in a hot studio for too long (especially if run from the mains adaptors, which generate a fair amount of heat). They’re fine as soon as they cool down a bit.

Be aware of that and they’re really useful lights. I used them for years, and I only upgraded to the Arris for convenience of packing and carrying around the same light output and colour control in a more tightly integrated package. They’re fine for short trips, but getting them on ferries I needed a more compact fit-in-the-car solution. (Or maybe I should have just bought a van).

The reason I have six of them was that I could run four at once- two or three as the key light, one as a fill, one as a backlight, and have a spare or two in case any of them started to overheat. If you don’t do long shoots or don’t shoot in really hot studios, or mostly shoot on battery, you’ll be fine. But in all good conscience I have to let you know of the shortcomings.

Price

Well, it depends. I have six of them, but only one Paintbox controller. I need to get rid of at least some of them to make space in the kit room. If I put them on eBay I might just sell two or three of them, keep the others and the control box myself. But if I can find them a good home as a complete set-up, you can have the control box and all six lights.

Hard to find prices on eBay but they were £1000 each originally, plus £500 for the control box. They are a bit dim compared with cheap bicolour panels today, but the complete colour control with the Paintbox puts them in a whole different category- they’re a creative powerhouse, and I had to spend a LOT of money to match them.

If you’ll take the whole lot off my hands as a job lot, I’ll accept £2500 for all six plus the control box. (N.B. if you need postage you’ll have to budget for that too as they come in around 7kg each with all fixtures and fittings).

Add a few cheap kit stands (they work just fine on cheapy ones) and you’ll have enough lighting to shoot feature films. I shot a mainstream feature with these plus a few cheap tungsten parcans and backlights for the scenery.

2x Core Flash CF-300 mains-powered flash heads

SOLD! (Provisonally!)

Two cheap and cheerful mains-powered studio flash heads, with reflectors, with slot for mounting umbrellas. Originally donated by RE member Merlin, they were used to light the white infinity cove in the old RE house for many, many photosets including the RE lexicon.

They’ve been sat on a shelf since we moved, I’ve decided to sell the cove sections so they’re surplus to requirements.

Great starter kit for getting up to speed with flash photography, just add a cheap Infrared flash trigger.

Price

New, a two-unit set up costs £400. Similar units seem to be going for £100 each on eBay, give me £150 and you can have the two.

Ronin Gimbal Rig

More of a specialised item, this is a full-blown camera gimbal rig. It’ll take the RED, but I used to use it with the Pansonic GH4. I’ve shot feature films and many RE videos on it. This is the original full-sized Ronin, not the later Ronin M, and it can take any dSLR and heavy lenses, all the way up to cine cameras. Comes with a remote control box and dedicated flight case.

Why I Am Selling It?

Tennis elbow. I’ve been forced to switch to using a lighter hand-held gimbal set-up, even though this one is technically far superior.

Price

New it was £2000. They are going for around £900 on eBay, yours for kinky purposes for £750.

Welcome To Silk Soles!

Hi Everyone!

We’ve had quite a few new members join us over Xmas, so I just wanted to say hi and welcome!

To celebrate I’m putting up a fab video this Friday starring Ariel and Penny in the hot-tub from our recent Silk Soles location shoot.

We stopped shooting SilkSoles video for a while because sales didn’t seem to justify it.

So we really hope the new members and the increased sales from the shopping cart will make it feasible for us to start shooting more! We LOVE shooting them for you!

Happy New Year from Ariel and Hywel!

 

P.S. apologies for the on-going problems with rating sets on the site. My programmer friend Ian will be taking a look at it when he gets back from his break. We think it might be related to the set filenames, but we need to investigate further to fix. Apologies.

Equipment To Get Started

Every so often people ask me what equipment they need to get started producing their own bondage images or video clips. This has changed (for the better) recently so I thought I’d post about it.

The good news is that pretty much any recent camera can do the job. You could even get started with a smart-phone camera, if you have a relatively recent phone. You’ll probably find that quite limiting, but plenty of models are selling videos shot on their iPhones.

The equipment you need is going to depend on what sort of work you’re aiming to produce. If the aesthetic you like and want to produce is “gritty” point-of-view bondage, an iPhone or a GoPro could be exactly what you need. If you’re planning on shooting video and aiming for a higher-quality aesthetic, more like you see on other BDSM websites, then a video camcorder might be right thing. If you think you would like to try stills and well as video, an interchangeable-lens camera like a dSLR will probably be more suited to your needs.

If you’re interested in my work, I’m going to assume you’d like to produce something a bit glossier than point-of-view kidnap videos. In that case the most versatile option would be an interchangeable-lens camera, because as the name suggests you can swap lenses to get different look-and-feel to the footage.

I started to write a mega-long post but then I realised that this literally needs to be a book. I will try to write one next year. I can give a much shorter answer.

Almost any modern digital camera system with fast lenses which covers moderate wide angle, “normal” (50mm equivalent focal length) and a mild telephoto for close-ups will do the job.

If I were starting today, I’d get a Canon 80D, a Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 zoom, a Canon 50mm f/1.4 prime lens, and a Rode VideoMicPro R. If funds were tight, I’d opt for a second-hand Canon 70D instead.

San-disk Extreme Pro are good SD cards, the 95 MB/s versions are fine for all but the most cutting-edge cameras shooting high bit rate video.

If money allows, a boom mic on a C-stand and a radio transmitter/receiver will give even better audio but the shotgun-mic on camera works well for a lot of people.

Tripod

If you are shooting any video at all, you need one. Even arch-technophobe Ariel Anderssen uses one.

Get a video tripod with a fluid head. Moving camera looks cool on video, but shaky-cam is just annoying. Any tripod will do to get started. You will throw it away and buy a better one within weeks, though. You get what you pay for when it comes to smooth pans and solid footage. Something like this would be a decent starting point, but a proper video tripod from someone like Manfrotto will last you a decade.

Lighting

Yes, you need it. You should spend more money on it than you want to, because it is important and a decent set of lighting gear will outlast your camera for sure.

If money was tight I’d buy Tungsten continuous lighting (something like this: tungsten kit )

If funds allow a decent bi-colour LED set up is much easier to use safely. It’s also more versatile, mixing with available light either in daytime or night-time, dimmable for style, and runs cool so danger of a hot light burning anyone. Something like two of these: Lite Panels bicolour. There are cheaper LED options, but the colour rendition may well be crap. Green skin is not a good look.

If you are AT ALL interested in stills, it is worth investing in some flash lighting. Flash is SOOOO much cheaper for the light output than anything you can get for video, and this will make a considerable difference to the quality of your stills. Something like this Bowens kit would be a bottom-end starter. If you’re really serious, look into Profoto or Hensel. I really like the battery-powered studio flash units that you can use on location away from power sockets.

Can you get away with just continuous lighting?

Changing lighting systems is a pain on set. Buying a second set of flash lighting equipment costs money. Would it be better to just buy a really bright set of continuous lighting and use that?

Until very recently the answer was very simple, even for top-end pros: No. Even Hollywood HMI lights didn’t really compare with what you could carry around on your back with a flash set-up.

With the latest generation of multi-colour dimmable bright LED lights like Arri SkyPanels and L10’s, it’s not so clear-cut for top-end pros, but these lights cost mega-bucks.

If you are sure that your primary interest is video, consider spending a lot more on lighting and you can may be able get away without flash. You’ll need fast lenses and a modern camera with good low-light performance.

Personally, I still love being able to carry a battery-powered system with me that can over-ride direct sunlight, and the only thing which can do that is flash.

Safety

Buy several sets of safety scissors (EMT shears) and a set of bolt cutters if you’re going to be doing metal bondage. Take yourself on a bondage or shibari course if there are any near you. If there aren’t, budget to travel to one. You might be able to combine it with shoots if you find a model and/or rigger with studio space.

Computer

I’m sure you can do this on a PC, but all my pro work is on Macs so that’s what I’m going to recommend.

Get a second-hand iMac or MacBook Pro with three external hard drives to store your footage. Use one as working space, one to back up the working space (copy files across as you pull them off the card) and the third as a back-up in a physically separate place that you update after each shoot so at least the raw shots/footage are safe. Don’t wipe the card until you have copies on all three hard drives.

Edit video in Final Cut Pro. You can start with iMovie (which is free) but FCP is a big step up and is capable of growing with you all the way up to full-blown movies so getting started with it sooner rather than later is a good idea.

Edit photos with Lightroom; personally I don’t like Adobe software or Adobe price plans but it is hard to argue with success. Capture One Pro is a great alternative.

Put the rest of your money on-screen

Spend your money on models, studios, locations, bondage gear, clothes, gags… all the things which will appear on screen.

What To Shoot To Get Started?

Shoot video. Open a store on Clips4Sale. It’s much easier to market that way, C4S handles most of the technical side and all the billing for you, and provide a built-in marketplace. You will find you need to update frequently to get much attention.

Stills are harder to sell; bentbox.co seems to be the best platform at the moment. If your heart is in stills by all means go for it, but be aware that the market seems to be smaller and there isn’t anywhere with the critical mass of customers than Clips4Sale provides for video.

In terms of content, shoot what you love, what you personally want to see. That way you’ll be happy to be doing it even if you make no money, and you’ll do a better job of it too. Don’t chase the market, certainly not while you are getting started. Concentrate on making stuff which you think is of good quality, both in technical terms and in terms of showing on screen something which you think is really hot. If you think it is good, other people might too.

Book professional models and ask them for advice, showing them a small number of shots through the day. Do this DURING the shoot, budgeting them time as part of what you are paying them for. (They can’t afford to give you free advice outside the shoot, they need to be working to earn a living, and they don’t want to be bombarded by hundreds of shots). But working with them to improve shots and lighting during the shoot is a very sound idea.

Book a studio or two with their own lighting so you can play around and see what works for you before buying your own kit.

Promote on Twitter. Other platforms may be OK, depending on what you shoot- Facebook is famously unfriendly to nudity, for example, but I know models who get great results on Instagram.

Good luck and have fun!