Matte boxes are incredibly useful and talked about very little. They are relatively simple and do a very specific job of blocking stray light to limit flare and holding your filtration. It also makes your rig look professional. There have been improvements and good matte boxes are definitely more accessible to your everyday filmmaker, but nothing drastic.
At least not until the Tilta Mirage Matte Box showed up. It’s modular, portable, and can actually be motorized for controlling your variable ND filter with a remote control. If you are curious about the Mirage, then this video from Bestboy Adam takes a deeper dive into its features.
The Mirage is very portable. Being lightweight makes it a better fit for smaller lenses as well as for use on gimbals and other supports. They also designed some new circular filters that are smaller, lighter, and cheaper as they rely on dedicated holders.
Being used in these holders also allows you to quickly swap them out instead of having to spend time screwing and unscrewing other circular filters. Tilta has a ton of options, including special effects filters, so you should be able to get the look you want.
Compared to rectangular and standard filters, this new design is much more efficient. And this efficiency helps solo shooters keep a reasonable rig and work much faster. If you already have a collection of older filters you can still use them in the Mirage. There is a clamp and adapter to mount them just fine.
The big filter improvement is with the variable ND. It weighs only 100 grams and has a unique frame that includes a gear to make adjustments. Quick shots show it looks good too.
For mounting, you have a couple of options. For ultra-compact kits you can use an adapter to mount it directly to the lens’ filter ring. The other is a more traditional adapter for mounting to 15mm rods. Either works well.
If you want to make it even lighter you can take advantage of the modular design. You can remove a ton of pieces to configure it as you need. You can even remove everything except for the variable ND filter for a minimum of weight.
An interesting call out is that the matte box is supposed to be designed to be more aerodynamic. This should mean that your rig should handle situations with high wind, such as if you mount it to a car, gimbal, or even drone.
Heading back to the filter conversation it is time to talk about the ability to wirelessly control the variable ND. With an optional micro motor and remote control, you can control the strength of the variable ND just like you would use a system to control lens focus or zoom.
If you have a Nucleus Nano, you can even use that by picking up an adapter. The wireless controls work up to 100 m, though there is going to be an extra tool you can buy to extend that range to 2 km, making it extra useful for drone use.
This makes a lot of sense for remote rigs. Anywhere you are leaving the camera set up and need to control it remotely this remote control will help a ton. Using the ND instead of other controls means you can maintain the look of your footage. No need to change depth of field or motion blur with the ND.
Another good example is using photo lenses without smooth iris control. You basically can’t use the aperture ring mid shot since it’ll be a dramatic stepping effect. The ND is perfectly smooth.
On the other hand, you now have even more creative control. You can use motors moving in opposite directions to essentially rack depth of field without ruining exposure. As the exposure changes when you change the aperture the ND filter can compensate for it.
The final good part is that the price is very reasonable. It’s a little over $100 for the base model and a bit over $300 for the full motorized VND kit. That’s very reasonable for what you are getting out of it.
this is a solid release that is configured well for modern filmmakers. Are you interested in picking one up?
[source: Bestboy Adam]
- Tilta Mirage Matte Box (B&H, Amazon)
- Tilta Mirage VND Kit (B&H, Amazon)
- Tilta Mirage Motorized VND Kit (B&H, Amazon)
Claim your copy of DAVINCI RESOLVE - SIMPLIFIED COURSE with 50% off! Get Instant Access!