Live event production experts Funicular Goats put Fujinon’s cinematic box lens through real-world application during its development. Now, they’ve created a video celebration to mark its official arrival
Despite its recent release, FUJINON DuvoTM HZK25-1000mmF2.8-5.0 CineBox PL Lens has already achieved great things. Fujinon’s latest box lens is the star of Funicular Goats’ new promo video, but in the months before production for the short began, the superzoom was in the team’s capable hands on a much larger scale.
The concept behind the social ad is joyously simple, but bringing it to life demanded a generous amount of skill. Thankfully, Funicular Goats have decades of experience to lean on. Co-founder and producer Aaron Cooke explains more.
“We’ve known a lot about HZK25-1000mm since long before it was even announced, so our excitement has been building. When we knew we’d be getting delivery of our own model, we wanted to make a splash,” he explains.
Ultimately, we’re trying to achieve next-level visual delivery of both recorded and live content – and this helps bring those two elements closer together
“The question that inspired it all was: exactly how long is this lens? We’d just been in Tokyo for a project, and had the chance to meet Kasai and the other engineers who designed it. We imagined a shot of them there that continuously pulled all the way back to Los Angeles. That’s how long the lens feels. So, it’s a funny, exaggerated way to highlight the key functionality.
“For such a short commercial, it was a fairly complex production. Our visual effects team composited the huge zoom out, to sit between the establishing and landing shots. It required a lot of people over multiple days, which was fun to accomplish. Seeing it finished has been incredible.”
While HZK25-1000mm can’t truly zoom across continents, its real performance is only marginally less impressive. It combines colossal coverage with fast apertures, cinema-quality optics, and stabilizing vibration compensation. It’s been a seamless fit within the Funicular Goats’ advanced technical workflow, during a handful of live events.
“The new Fujinon fills a void that’s been present since we started doing multicamera cinema capture 15 years ago,” notes Morgan Kellum, co-founder and head of business development. “In this market, if you want to use cinema cameras and lenses, you typically have to be within a certain distance of the talent. With HZK25-1000mm – especially at shows we’ve covered this last year in bigger arenas – we have an actual cinema optic to capture that distant position.”
“Previous box lenses had some trade-offs, whether it’s a couple of stops of loss, or a less-than-cinematic look,” Morgan adds.
“We’d also experience aberrations, as a result of light between the mount and PL adapter,” says James Coker, partner and lead engineer, covering more of HZK25-1000mm’s new ground. “That was a necessary step when using many box lenses with a Sony Venice or ARRI. As a native PL mount, the Fujinon is easier to match with our other setups, and the extra quality is an advantage.”
Broader resolving power is another consideration – especially in today’s landscape of increasing sensor and display fidelity. Resolution can only be as high as a system’s lowest common denominator. When surrounding tools match HZK25-1000mm’s clarity, a minimum of 4K is comfortably achievable.
Despite working predominantly within the live space, Funicular Goats’ visuals are distinctly cinematic. Beyond practical benefits of versatility and workflow, HZK25-1000mm’s look is one of the team’s favorite features. Among notable productions, coverage of recent halftime shows* stand proud.
“We had the chance to use another of Fujinon’s cine box lenses with the same F2.8 aperture in 2022 at the big game in Los Angeles,” Morgan recalls. “Looking out at Dr. Dre on the 50-yard line, the depth-of-field of our original broadcast lens was so deep that we could see people in the stands behind. We put the Fujinon on and Dre snapped into focus with beautiful fall-off behind him. The bokeh was so dramatic. It perfectly illustrated the degree these lenses allow stories to be told, with the aesthetic and emotion they deserve.”
“That year, we anticipated darkness going into halftime, but a fast first half of football meant it ended up being a daylight show,” Aaron continues. “HZK25-1000mm was part of our front-of-house stack, so being able to adjust settings and maintain the look we were aiming for was essential. It did justice to the performers, and was a critical visual cue that the audience at home reacted really well to.”
“This year, for Rihanna’s performance, we also adapted the 9-pin serial to add a follow focus system to the lens,” James reveals. “Having a focus puller gave the operator a fighting chance with such a shallow depth-of-field. He’d have been moving, zooming, and focusing the lens otherwise. So, that capability was a huge advantage, and we’re working on incorporating a few other accessories. It’s great to have compatibility with these different tools, to adapt HZK25-1000mm to a more cinematic workflow.”
During the Halftime Show in 2023, FUJINON HZK25-1000mm went to even greater lengths. The Funicular Goats team seized the opportunity to maximize focal length via the lens’ built-in 1.5x expander.
“We had the lens mounted in the stands, about 40 feet above field level. It was a critical tool, used for close-ups on Rihanna as she performed. Paired with the higher base ISO of Sony Venice 2, HZK25-1000mm delivered a flawless image. The results we’ve been able to achieve are truly incomparable,” Aaron concludes.
Now finalized and launched, the only question that remains of FUJINON Duvo™ HZK25-1000mmF2.8-5.0 CineBox PL Lens in the possession of Funicular Goats is, what next?
“World domination,” Morgan laughs. “No, it gives us an extra tool we can use to meet the visions and aesthetics of directors, DOPs, and other creators. Ultimately, we’re trying to achieve next-level visual delivery of both recorded and live content – and this helps bring those two elements closer together.”
“The Fujinon team’s technical support has been amazing,” James adds. “The whole time using the lens throughout its development, they’ve been willing to visit probably 75% of our shoots, to see how it’s performing in real time. We’re proud to play that small part in its release.”
“Fujinon has responded impressively to what the market was asking for,” says Morgan in closing. “They’re curious, then dynamic to act on where that leads. To complete a lens like this in such a short time frame is incredible. We were excited to include Kasai and his engineering team in the video, to honor them in our small way.”
*Not an official sponsor of the NFL.
FUJINON DuvoTM HZK25-1000mm F2.8-F5.0 PL Mount Box Lens (“HZK25-1000”) features a native PL mount, offering a beautiful bokeh that brings a cinematic look to live production.