“Spiegel im Spiegel” by Paul Hamilton & Caleb Vinson

Steve says: “This film has some of the best cinematography I've ever seen. The framing is unique and wonderful. I feel like all of these new kids are not into close ups and this is the first time I've really seen wonderful close ups with a 7D.  I love all of the wonderful textures they captured, especially the close up of the fingers on the fence.  It was just stunning. My only complaint was that this video needed to be ¼ of the length that it was.  It is way too long.  They didn’t need to use the entire song.  Maybe they needed that for the performer but the director’s cut needs to be no longer then 4 minutes.” 

Spiegel im Spiegel is a beautiful short film by Paul Hamilton and Caleb Vinson.  It is part of a live music/cinema performance called "Dream" composed by Arvo Pärt and performed by Rebecca Zimmerman on cello and Paul Hamilton on piano.  Rebecca Zimmerman is also featured as the woman in the video.  We chatted a bit with Paul Hamilton and Caleb Vinson about the making of Spiegel im Spiegel.  The video was shot near Lake Michigan and on the north side of Chicago on a Canon 7D. 

The concept of the film was to express a dream within a dream and for an abstract concept, it comes across pretty clear.  It was shot with natural light and the slow motion really compliments the rhythm and arc of the music.  Hamilton and Vinson shot and edited Spiegel im Spiegel with a minimalist style, which goes to show that you don’t need to have a ton of money or a large production crew to make a quality film.  The crew used Cinema Tools to conform the footage 60p to 24p, Final Cut Pro to edit, and Magic Bullet for grading.    

“The 7D was affordable, and offered various frame rates and frame sizes,” says Hamilton, “Caleb studied digital filmmaking at the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale. I have two degrees in piano, and am self taught. We have fused our styles, and we shoot with each other in mind.”       

Hamilton goes on to say that writing the story was the easy part.  The hard part was waiting for the right weather conditions to arrive with a fast approaching deadline. A lot of filmmakers probably wouldn’t be so happy about shooting in such extreme conditions but Hamilton and Vinson loved it.

“We wanted to shoot while it was snowing, so we made a pact with Rebecca that we would always be available when it snowed.  This required patience,” Hamilton said. “Rebecca endured the conditions with elegance and grace.  She delivered a lovely, restrained performance, with no previous acting experience!  It was astounding to discover her talent.”  

Rebecca Zimmerman and Paul Hamilton met as musicians and decided to perform a recital together. Rebecca is an accomplished Chicago cellist, who also happens to be exceptionally talented in front of the camera.  She chose this piece for the recital which was written in 1979 by Arvo Pärt. His minimalist approach is beautifully displayed here. Rebecca and Paul also recorded the performance you hear.

Hamilton and Vinson paid great attention to detail when shooting Spiegel im Spiegel.   By playing with textures and shooting a lot of close ups, the team had complete control over what the audience saw and got to play around with the intimacy that close ups reveal.  The textures really establish the physical space of the location.  With this shooting style, you really get to see a lot of things you wouldn’t normally get to see in a wider shot.  This is not an easy task to accomplish, but it would have been ever harder without a Zacuto Z-Finder.       

“The Z-Finder is definitely our favorite product. It allows for pinpoint focus and exact framing.  It’s simply the very best DSLR add on that exists!  Zacuto's products are designed and manufactured with the highest standard of quality. Along with the products comes Zacuto's superb customer service. We're local, so we have the advantage of working with Zacuto face to face,” Hamilton says.


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5 Responses to ““Spiegel im Spiegel” by Paul Hamilton & Caleb Vinson”

  1. Steve Weiss on April 14th, 2011 9:08 pm

    Paul and Caleb,
    I’m so proud to have you on the Zacuto website.  Your work has progressed as I have been following you.  Congratulation on being selected as a Steve’s pic.  There are not that many pics and I am very selective.

  2. Paul Hamilton on April 15th, 2011 12:07 am

    Steve – thank you so much – Caleb & I are grateful for your interest in, and support for what we do. And we’re also proud to be featured by Zacuto, AND proud to be neighbors.

    Spiegel is our favorite project so far – and it was very difficult to achieve. Rebecca is utterly natural in front of the camera, and is a brilliant cellist as well. The musical piece by Arvo is actually difficult for the cello and piano: long bows are very difficult to control on the cello, and repeated patterns and timing are difficult to control on the piano. Musically it should sound effortless. As the film relates to the music: Caleb & I decided to shoot it all in slow mo, and cut to the visual rhythm instead of the musical rhythm. This was also difficult to achieve, as we had to implement extreme restraint, in the music, in the filming, in editing and in acting. Caleb and I shoot together and edit side by side – so everything is done as a team. I hope you can meet him some day – he’s an exceptional human being.

    Again – thanks for creating the Striker rig, and of course the Z Finder – I am able to use it with or without contacts or glasses. The ability to pin point focus is unparalleled. It also enables me to exactly level my shots, and frame exactly the way I want to. It’s a “must have” for a DSLR. Cheers, and have a great last night in Vegas!

  3. Kevin on April 22nd, 2011 3:59 pm

    Paul & Caleb

    Simply beautiful! Love the shots, slow motion and everything else! Great job you guys!


  4. Anonymous on May 3rd, 2011 4:55 pm

    Thank you Kevin – hope all is well with you!

  5. taunya hagan on April 26th, 2012 7:30 pm

    So beautiful and soothing!